When Android first emerged as a viable alternative to iOS, it was not an aesthetically-pleasing platform. It had features out the wazoo, but there was no cohesive design style, nor any guidance from Google about how an Android app should look. The story these days is very different, however, with Google having a set of design guidelines for the platform, showcasing a look that lacks the skeumorphism, and unnecessary UI flourishes of iOS, but has more personality than Microsoft’s purely-digital look.
In the interests of promoting good design for the platform we all love, and promoting the developers who embrace its unique features and style, we at Ausdroid have prepared a list of applications that we think are not only beautiful, but also functional.
First up is Pocket Casts, a beautiful podcast application made by Australian developers Shifty Jelly. Pocket Casts makes excellent use of Android’s design guidelines, but adds its own identity with its use of colours and large tiles. The application has a great tablet UI, and has both dark and light themes.
Pocket Casts lets you add your favourite podcasts, which are updated automatically when new episodes become available. It supports cross-device syncing, variable speed playback, smart playlists, homescreen widgets and both video and audio podcasts.
SeriesGuide is a stunning application to track the TV shows you watch. By default, the application uses a dark theme with blue highlights, but there are a number of options, ‘SeriesGuide Light’ being my favourite, making good use of the Holo Light Dark Action Bar theme. The application automatically downloads information about the shows you select, such as episode synopses and ratings, DVD cover artwork and stills from individual episodes; and it syncs with Trakt to keep a list of watched episodes and shows you like updated across devices. If you watch any TV shows at all, this application is a must.
It includes a homescreen widget for upcoming/recent episodes, as well as DashClock support and tablet mode.
If you work in an industry that works by billable hours, it’s important to keep track of the time you spend on various projects. Jiffy is a beautiful timekeeping application, and is super straightforward to use. On the main screen, you simply tap ‘Add Project’, fill in the project and customer names and then you’re good to go. From there, you tap on the project name on the main screen to start and stop recording time. Couldn’t be easier!
The application also gives you a summary of the time spent on various projects, in either chart form, or overlaid on a calendar. It also has a neat tablet mode, allowing you to see more information at once.[app]com.nordicusability.jiffy[/app]
Eye in Sky
The Play Store has no shortage of weather applications, but in my opinion, Eye in Sky is the best. It has a beautiful minimal design, with a variety of different weather icon choices, and it supports tablets, homescreen widgets and has a DashClock extension.[app]com.citc.weather[/app]
HD Widgets – Colurform Theme
HD Widgets has been around for a long time, starting out as a clock and weather widget, heavily inspired by HTC’s clock widget, but has since evolved into a fantastic set of widgets in its own right. Android design has come a long way since HD Widgets was released though, and the widgets don’t really fit within the Android 4.x style any more. Enter the Colourform Theme pack, which provides a whole new set of widgets, which fit perfectly into Android’s style now. My homescreen doesn’t feel complete without a clock/weather widget, and the beautiful minimalist style of the Colourform HD Widget, with its myriad colour choices is perfect.