User interface Stories March 24, 2016

Google’s easy to use ‘Accessibility Scanner’ analyzes apps for accessibility issues

Google has published a new tool to help Android developers improve the user interface and experience of their apps. Accessibility Scanner can analyze any app with an eye towards accessibility issues that might not be a problem for most users but may cause user experience problems for some.

User interface Stories August 17, 2015

In a sign that its Hangouts messaging platform is becoming more important to the company, and that Google+ is becoming somewhat less important, Google has given Hangouts its own dedicated website found at hangouts.google.com.

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Right on the heels of Google unveiling the official name for Android M — it’s Marshmallow — the company has released the final preview version of the operating system bump along with the Android 6.0 SDK and access to all the new APIs that Marshmallow includes…

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User interface Stories July 13, 2015

moto360ad

Google is working on some tantalizing new features for upcoming versions of the Android Wear software, according to a new report published by Phandroid. Citing anonymous sources, it claims that the next update to Google’s wearable OS will include direct watch-to-watch communication along with some new interactive watch faces. Purportedly, these features were due to arrive on July 28th, but are now not likely to appear until August.

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User interface Stories July 6, 2015

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Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 11.51.25 AM

Google Developers, the team at Google which creates tools and learning materials for developers to take advantage of, has released a front-end web framework for building sites to the Material Design specification.

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User interface Stories February 20, 2015

New search box user interface rolling out to Play Store Android app

A server-side update is rolling out the Play Store Android app that packs a pretty subtle-yet-big update to the way search works. Currently, there’s a large toolbar at the top of the app labeled “Play Store,” and searching for something means tapping the magnifying glass icon in the top-right corner. This update, which was first posted about on the Google+ page of Kirill Grouchnikov, replaces that toolbar with a much more prominent search box.

Additionally, users will notice that tapping the magnifying glass from elsewhere within the app will slide out the search box from the right. This update will bring the Play Store app more in line with the design of some of Google’s other apps, the one you’re most familiar with likely being the Google Now launcher:

According to another post on Grouchnikov’s Google+ page, the update is coming “soon”. And, as mentioned, this is a server-side update that Google will push over-the-air. Don’t bother checking the Play Store because the app is going to be updated behind the scenes. Like magic.

User interface Stories September 29, 2014

android-auto

We knew back in June that Google’s in-car operating system Android Auto would run with a user-interface designed by Google itself. All developers are able to do is choose a particular template, then send the text and data from the phone app to the interface, so that everything appearing on the car display will have a consistent look & feel. It’s the same approach Google has taken with Android Wear and Android TV.

Arstechnica today pointed us to a developer overview for Android Auto providing a good sense of the visual appearance of the interface. What is shown above is the generic interface, on the left, and an example of how developers are able to customize it on the right …  expand full story

User interface Stories July 17, 2014

maps

Google this afternoon updated its Maps app on Android to version 8.2 with a plethora of new features, enhancements, and changes. The biggest changes come to the biking routes that Maps offers. With this update, biking routes now show elevation, including the ability to compare the elevations for various routes. This, of course, means that you can now easily tell which bike routes will be the easiest on your legs. This feature is listed as beta for now, though.

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User interface Stories July 16, 2014

Google Play Store flag as inappropriate

The ability to flag content on the Google Play Store as inappropriate, a feature long available on Android, has recently hit the Web version as well. The link to do just that can now be found on the web interface under Report within the Additional information section of the content’s description. While the feature is likely targeted toward apps that may violate some policy or have a lower-than-appropriate content rating, it does extend to other media like books, music and TV shows, and music distributed on the Google Play Store as well.

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User interface Stories April 15, 2014

bgr-a-phone-2

Boy Genius Report has posted its knowledge of Amazon’s next smartphone. Although it technically hasn’t been confirmed to be an Android device, it is almost certain that it will be powered by Android at some level, given Amazon’s existing Android ecosystem. BGR claims to have the first pictures of the phone, shown above.

According to the report, the phone will feature a 3D interface. This feature is enabled through a set of four front-facing Infrared cameras that track the position and orientation of the user’s face. The user interface can then update in response to facial movements. Apparently, the four sensors are located in each corner of the front face. The Wall Street Journal reported that the product would feature a 3D interface last week and is set for a June launch.

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User interface Stories April 3, 2014

Google-2-0

Yesterday we got a look at a beta version of the upcoming Gmail app for Android which includes new Travel, Purchases, and Finance categories in addition to the Social, Promotions, Updates and Forums categories currently available. Also present is a pinning feature for making emails of your choosing remain at the top of your inbox as well as a “snoozing” feature that allows you to delay an email for a set amount of time much like hitting snooze on your alarm clock. Within a slightly tweaked UI you’ll also notice a new toggle at the top of your inbox that allows you to switch between showing pinned emails and having them return to chronological order.

Our sources had previously told us about this update but without confirmation. We sat on the story. Now that we have some confirmation that this is coming, we can discuss the whole of what we’ve heard. expand full story

User interface Stories February 19, 2014

BitTorrent for Android updated with new user interface, selectable downloads, more

Popular file sharing app BitTorrent announced an update to its Android client today bringing an overhaul to its user interface.

In addition to the new look and feel, BitTorrent for Android also includes the ability to manage specific downloads within a torrent. In its announcement, BitTorrent says its user base has crossed the 50 million mark.

BitTorrent 2.0 for Android is available for free from the Google Play Store.

User interface Stories January 20, 2014

ui

We’re not fans of manufacturer overlays, preferring our Android experience undiluted, but a leaked screenshot suggests that a revamped version of Samsung’s TouchWiz user-interface may actually be both attractive and useful.

Leaked by usually reliable source @evleaks, the screenshot shows live updates covering everything from flight delays to delivery notifications. It’s not known whether Samsung is grabbing the data from Google Now, and merely overlaying its own user-interface, or creating its own data feeds …  expand full story

User interface Stories November 19, 2013

Image: theverge.com

Image: theverge.com

A patent application spotted by The Verge gives some clues to what Samsung has in mind for the user interface for the wraparound screen Bloomberg reported last week.

There are a few boring ones, like slide-to-unlock and a battery meter at the side, but also some rather interesting ones, like ebook chapter bookmarks.

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User interface Stories September 6, 2013

myglass

MyGlass, the companion app Google created to allow you to screencast your Glass view to anyone with an Android phone, has now been updated to allow it to control Glass, reports Engadget.

The move was in response to feedback from Glass Explorers that “controlling its UI via swipes, nods and voice commands can sometimes be… awkward” …  expand full story

User interface Stories August 20, 2013

Google Play Services 3.2 now rolling out to all devices

Google today announced its finishing its roll out of Google Play Services 3.2, the latest version of its platform for delivering updates to its own apps and third-party apps using Google APIs. Version 3.2 includes a number of notable new features that end-users will benefit from, including a new compass mode for PhotoSphere that lets users navigate through PhotoSpheres by moving their device, and an improved InstantBuy UI that supports offers and loyalty data.

A few of the new features available for developers include improvements to location based services and hardware-based GPS geofencing:

The Fused Location Provider now supports the selection of a low-power mode option when requesting location updates, and the ability to inject mock locations — allowing you to more efficiently test your apps in a variety of simulated conditions.

The geofencing APIs have been updated to support hardware-based GPS geofencing on devices that have supporting hardware, such as the Nexus 4. Hardware geofences consume significantly less battery, and best of all your app will automatically take advantage of this feature on supported hardware without you having to make any changes.

Google also noted that a new Snapshot feature for the maps API will let devs “capture a bitmap image of the current map in order to improve performance when an interactive map isn’t necessary.” A simplified sharing control feature in the latest release will let developers using Google+ sign in (which also receives a shiny new animation) to simplify sharing to the social network.

The Google Play Services 3.2 release is now available for developers to test through an updated Google APIs emulator image in the Android SDK Manager. More info is available on the Android developers blog here.

User interface Stories April 3, 2013

Google refreshed Google Places for Business last night with a new look and feel.

The streamlined interface now makes it easier for businesses to update their information, and a helpful widget will even outline what they should do to fully complete profiles.

Profile edits will also now appear across all of Google’s products, like Google Maps, within 48 hours, but the improved integration doesn’t stop there. The official Google and Your Business blog has the story:

Through this upgraded interface, you will be able to access your local Google+ page to take advantage of social features like sharing photos, videos, or posts. For businesses who also use AdWords Express and Google Offers, managing your ads and promotions is easier than ever. You can check results and make edits directly from your upgraded Places for Business dashboard.

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User interface Stories January 28, 2013

Google Wallet updated with refreshed UI and performance improvements

Google Wallet has been updated today with a few new features including enhancements to the overall user interface. As for the UI, the app’s navigation has been moved around slightly with loaded cards stored in the “My Wallet” tab apart from your default card.

Google also noted “improvements to the user interface, application stability, and battery life” in the update’s release notes and highlighted support for all cards from Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover.

Google Wallet is available on Google Play here.

User interface Stories October 18, 2012

Today, Facebook is announcing a major overhaul to its Android SDK with the release of Facebook SDK 3.0 Beta for Android. As it recently did for iOS developers, it is also launching a new Android Dev Center with resources and tools for integrating Facebook into mobile apps. In a blog post on the company’s Developer Blog, Facebook’s Michael Marucheck said the new SDK “makes it easier to build more immersive social experiences, as well as better distribute and promote your app.”

With this update, our SDK provides advanced functionality that makes it easier to build more immersive social experiences, as well as better distribute and promote your app. With our SDK and Open Graph, now it’s even easier to get more people to install and use your apps regularly.

Some of the new features in the Beta include: new native UI controls, simplified session management with new tools for authorization and authentication, and better Facebook API support with batch SDK requests, enhanced Mobile install measurement to “measure clicks and installs for mobile app install ads,” and other improvements.

Facebook highlighted some of the new native UI controls included in SDK 3.0 that are “more efficient and responsive” for web developers than web dialogs:

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User interface Stories October 15, 2012

Google released a preview for all developers, as promised at Google I/O, showing off the update to the Google Play Developer Console—the website that allows developers of Android apps to manage them. A select amount of developers was able to preview it over the summer; and now, Google said in a blog post today every developer is able to try it out. The website has been updated with an overall speed increase and features an updated UI that is much easier to manage. “It’s bright and appealing to look at, easy to find your way around using navigation and search, and it loads quickly even if you have a lot of apps,” said Google.

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LG announces Jelly Bean update schedule

With tons of rumors regarding the upcoming Jelly Bean-powered LG Nexus, other LG device owners will be happy to know an update to Android 4.1 is coming to their device as well. While we do not get confirmation for all of LG’s U.S. devices, but we do get word that the company will begin rolling out Jelly Bean updates as early as next month.

LG issued a press release today giving a bit more information about when to expect Jelly Bean updates for a few different devices. The LG Optimus LTE II will be the first to receive the update in November followed by the Optimus G in December. Other devices confirmed in the release include the Optimus Vu and Vu II. They will both receive updates sometime in Q1 2013.

User interface Stories September 24, 2012

Netflix just announced a new user-interface experience for Android smartphones.

“Compared to the previous version, the new Netflix experience on Android phones is much more immersive,” explained Netflix on its official blog. “It is much closer to the Netflix experience on tablets, which got a major upgrade late last year.”

The updated app now shows more titles and galleries, bringing it up to par with the tablet version, and it features a new browse row at the top of the screen that lets users continue watching content previously started. Just tap the browse menu to access genre lists.

The Instant Queue, which is available in select regions, is now on the Home screen under the Top 10 list, and a new experience area further below displays several rows filled with personalized recommendations. Tap on any title to view more information or double-tap to start instant playback.

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User interface Stories August 24, 2012

Android Police pulled some nice quotes from a recent Reddit thread on the future of the Facebook App on Android…

FB: Facebook is committed to both Android and iOS, and you’ve now seen what we can do. Stay tuned. (There are things in the Android app that aren’t in the iOS one today, like mentions in posts and comments, photo multi-upload, event creation. Since version 1.9 the Android app has tested faster than the iOS one, but FB-iOS 5.0 obviously changes the game.)

Android presents some unique challenges for developers, especially those with a large user base, but we do and will power through them. A lot of time is spent dealing with device-specific issues and limits, and you really have to fight with the toolkit to get iPhone-smooth interactions. Some vendors have a different HTTP stack (!), none implement the Camera APIs consistently, and reliability of hardware acceleration is…imperfect, GC pauses are terrible, lots of the toolkit insists on doing real work on the UI thread and allocating recreationally. On iOS you can test on 5 devices and basically have the market covered. We have to test on many dozens to get to the top 1/3 of our users, and then the tail starts to getreally long.

Q: Do you know when we could expect a native app too? I realise you probably can’t give away too much but are we talking weeks? Months?

A: Nobody is more excited about the state of our current development version than we are, and we will get it to users as soon as we can. One of our awesome PR people is standing next to me (10,000 miles away) with a gun (frowny face), so I can’t say more. Also, I have been doing software 20 years too long to make estimates in public. Experience and quality determine the time. I am utterly confident that you’ll find it worth the wait, and I wish I could give it to you today.

Q: Pretty much everyone I know has problems with the app even loading anything at all, and that’s before complaints about performance issues. This has gone on for ages, how come something as important as this has been unresolved for so long?

A: There are lots of reasons that people can experience problems, and we work through (and fix) different ones all the time. We have pretty detailed metrics on different aspects of performance, stability, load-time, load-error, etc. We can see them getting better in meaningful chunks, but that spreads out across 130M users in a way that isn’t to anyone’s satisfaction. (This is one area in which neither the inherent characteristics of the Android webview nor the OEM-specific tweaks that occur are our friends. Really, they aren’t even cordial.) We’ve been on fixed-date release cycles since 1.9, and we’re now down to every 4 weeks (where we’ll stay); this was a shit-ton of work for a large number of people, but it means we can get improvements out to users faster even while investing in longer-term features or architecture changes.

Q: What’s the best way for us, as users, to make it known that something isn’t working right with the app and make a difference? As of right now I could make quite a list of things that don’t work with the app, however it would feel a bit like a drop in the ocean for all the feedback you probably receive and feels like it would go unnoticed…We want to help :)

A: There’s a bug reporting mechanism either via the website or the app that someone on my team reads and rolls up for the developers weekly. My internal build has another mechanism for it, so I embarrassingly can’t tell you in more detail right now. :-/

Q: Is it true that Facebookers have been forced to use the android app to get a feel for how bad it is?

A: Neither the assertion nor the implication are true to my knowledge, and I am virtually certain that my knowledge on this issue is complete.

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User interface Stories June 28, 2012

Google gave an update regarding improvements to the Google Play store coming to Android devices and elsewhere yesterday during Day 1 of its Google I/O keynote. However, information on what was in the works for Google TV was notably left out from its presentations (despite two identical Google Glass skydiver demos from yesterday and today). Today, Google made a blog post confirming features that were announced for Android devices yesterday. A new UI, subscription billing, and movie, music and TV shows will also come to the Google Play store on Google TV this summer:

You already have access to a variety of apps on Google Play, and soon you’ll be able to find movies, TV shows, and music from Google Play to stream on Google TV. Google Play works across devices, so you can rent and start watching a movie on your Google TV, keep watching on your tablet on the move, and finish watching on Google TV. The TV & Movies app will also show Google Play content, adding to the more than 100,000 TV episodes and movies available in the app. The full power of Google Play will be available later this summer on all Google TV devices.

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User interface Stories June 27, 2012

Chrome for Android officially out of Beta

Google confirmed on the Google Chrome Releases blog today that Chrome for Android is now a Stable Channel release and officially out of Beta. The download is available now on Google Play for devices running Android 4.0 or later.

This update picks up important stability and performance fixes since the last Beta, along with some minor UI adjustments, especially for tablets. Known issues are available on the Chrome support site.

User interface Stories June 26, 2012

Mozilla refreshed its Firefox for Android app today and promised an “a snappy and dynamic upgrade” that will improve everything from page load times to performance of web apps. On top of the performance upgrades that Mozilla claimed make Firefox “two times faster” than the stock Android browser, the newly updated app also received a few new features.

First, you will notice the UI has been streamlined, and it now includes a “personalized start page” called the “Awesome Screen.” The new start page, as highlighted in the video above, allows you quick access to bookmarks, browsing history, passwords, and data from your device that are stored in Firefox Sync. Mozilla also gave us an update on changes to the web platform:

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User interface Stories May 16, 2012

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LG announced this morning that it developed a new LG Optimus 3.0 overlay.

The press release claimed Optimus UI 3.0 is “unobtrusive and simple” to use, and its primary design function has speed in mind. For example, a new memo function called “Quick Memo” allows users to jot notes on the screen in a “more convenient” method, and then users can share the scribblings through text messages, email, or social networks.

“With smartphone hardware becoming more and more similar, it’s important for manufacturers to differentiate their products from the competition through the user interface,” said President and CEO of LG Electronics Mobile Communications Company Dr. Jong-seok Park in the presser.

Other features include: an unlock function that allows users to drag anywhere on the screen; a preset Pattern Lock that enables the most frequently used function to automatically open; an easier method for organizing the primary applications, a new Voice Shutter for capturing images through voice commands; a camera feature for shooting the best picture within multiple images; an Icon Customizer that allows users to set their own images as icons and shortcut; and a Download category for the main menu.

The Optimus UI 3.0 is initially slated for Ice Cream Sandwich devices, because it debut on the LG Optimus LTE II that unveiling this week in Korea, and then it will roll out to the LG Optimus 4X HD in June.

LG’s full press release is below.

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User interface Stories May 11, 2012

Verizon to launch LTE in horde of US cities May 17

Verizon is expanding its LTE rollout by giving the green light on May 17 for many northeast cities in the United States.

PC World tested 3G and 4G wireless data transfer speeds last month for the top four carriers —both indoors and outside with multiple devices across 13 major cities in 130 testing locations— and discovered some surprising results: AT&T won the 4G crown. It clocked the fastest speeds in all but four cities when compared to other 4G network providers. With that said, AT&T may soon lose its place as Verizon vastly continues to increase LTE presence in the country.

Check out Verizon’s full rollout list with each presser linked below:

  1. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
  2. Benton Harbor And St. Joseph, Michigan
  3. Mansfield, Ohio
  4. Oil City And Franklin, Pennsylvania
  5. Ashtabula, Ohio
  6. Toledo, Ohio
  7. Defiance, Ohio
  8. New Castle, Pennsylvania
  9. Lima, Ohio
  10. Bucyrus, Ohio
  11. Somerset, Pennsylvania
  12. Erie, Pennsylvania
  13. Northern Cambria County, Pennsylvania
  14. Youngstown And Warren, Ohio
  15. Canton, Ohio
  16. Fredericksburg, Virginia
  17. Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley
  18. Martinsville, Virginia
  19. Williston, North Dakota
  20. Dickinson, North Dakota
  21. Delaware Shore Points
  22. Northern Vermont
  23. Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  24. Lancaster And York, Pennsylvania
  25. Jersey Shore

User interface Stories April 10, 2012

Netflix for Android was updated to version 1.7.1 this afternoon. The update is welcomed, because it adds a sleeker user-interface and a slew of bug and speed improvements. However, Netflix does not mention what the fixes are exactly. The UI enhancements are said to be specified around the volume controls and fast forward/rewind buttons. Did you download it? Let us know what you are experiencing in the comments below.

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User interface Stories March 22, 2012

Google released an update for the “Google Voice” Android app today that allows Android 4.0 visual voicemail integration.

Software Engineer Yong-Hoon Choi explained on the official Google Voice blog that the app supported visual voicemail since 2009, but jumping between the call log and Google Voice app proved cumbersome.

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User interface Stories January 19, 2012

AnandTech does its typical thorough job of reviewing the Galaxy Nexus and, as you can see above, there is an in-depth analysis of the mobile landscape.  The conclusion was not much different from ours, however.  Spoiler:

As far as Ice Cream Sandwich is concerned, it really is Android perfected. Everything is smoother, faster and nearly all of our issues with the OS have been addressed. ICS brings Android into 2012 and gives Google a great platform to begin to introduce new features going forward. Android is now very close to UI performance parity with iOS, which eliminates a major tradeoff you had to make in the past. If you were hoping for ICS to be iOS with a Google logo on it, you’ll be sorely disappointed. However if you’re a fan of Android and just wished it were smoother and more polished, Ice Cream Sandwich is what you’ve been waiting for.

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User interface Stories December 8, 2011

Works now for both Android and iPad. expand full story

User interface Stories November 14, 2011

As promised, Hulu Plus just hit the Amazon Appstore.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be able to be downloaded for any devices (including my Galaxy Tab 7) besides the Kindle Fire (check Android market for full compatibility list).  Strangely, even after “Whistper-synching” it over to the Kindle Fire, it hasn’t shown up.

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User interface Stories November 9, 2011

Curious about some of the details in why Google switched to their new Roboto type face in Ice Cream Sandwich? Matias Duarte, Android director, took to Google+ this evening to explain it in great detail. Switching from Droid type face to Roboto type face was mainly due in part to the higher pixel density screens, Matias explained. As screens get bigger, and more pixel dense, certain font schemes can lose their luster.

The other big part of the new type face was also due in part to the design strides Google is trying to make with Ice Cream Sandwich. You’ll notice in screenshots that fonts are much more crisp and tie in better with the rest of the UI.

The Android team is devoting themselves to continue working on the font, and the overall UI. We can’t wait to check it when we get our hands on the Nexus Prime in a few weeks.

User interface Stories November 5, 2011

You have to wonder if someone is playing a a joke on the Verge.  Someone sent in a box cover that purports to hide a 6-inch Android 2.3 tablet that does double time as a remote control for your cable box.  If this isn’t a Punk’d-ing, the device is with cable company testers right now and will be used to control the cable box, GoogleTV be damned.

 The box calls it a “dedicated controller,” but it also seems to show the tablet wirelessly displaying its entire UI on the TV, so we’re guessing it can be used to watch and stream content in addition to serving as a remote control for one of Motorola’s cable boxes. (That would also explain the hardware power and volume buttons next to the display.)

We don’t know much specs-wise, but the box says the design is “optimized for low cost,” so we wouldn’t expect anything high-end inside. It also looks like it says something “OS” in the upper left, so it seems like a fairly custom version of Android. There’s also IR control and RF4CE, which is a ZigBee-based RF control protocol, as well as a high-capacity 4,000mAH battery

Of course “Corvair” is also a car that Chevy built in the early 60s that makes every “worst car ever” list and was the subject of the Ralph Nadar book, Unsafe at Any Speed.  We’re hoping that Motorola’s naming/branding department is playing a joke on us in this case.

Also, as Motorola gets folded into Google, this will likely get folded into GoogleTV, which is to say, cancelled…just like its namesake.

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User interface Stories October 15, 2011

Android Police has gotten exclusive screenshots of the Gmail, Calendar, and Email widgets for the upcoming Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich. As you can see with the Gmail widget above, the Ice Cream Sandwich version features a slightly upgraded UI, but is missing Labels. Below is calendars expand full story

User interface Stories August 22, 2011

We already showed you how to give Google’s new search UI a try, but yesterday The Next Web discovered that you can also give Google’s new sign-in page a try. The new sign-in page goes along with the rest of Google’s general new design we’ve been seeing spring up across products, ever since the launch of Google Plus. Enabling the new design is much easier than what we showed you yesterday. You could just go and click the option to preview the new sign-in page, but here’s the link to make things easy.

While there isn’t much of a change, we do like the new colors and general spacing.

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