The mobile industry is already seeing a dramatic shift in how things are designed and built. Instead of building applications for a single mobile surface, a new generation of tools and infrastructure is being created to allow for applications to run across a wide array of devices, mediums and form factors — all at the same time. The arrival of wearable products like the Samsung watch, in-home cloud-connected appliances and wall-panel interactive displays is a big sign that the customer experience is being distributed across many different surfaces and devices.
Apple's new iOS8 and Google's new Material Design reflect this trend.
The new iOS8 ties everything together with "Convergence". Apple continues to improve extensibility by integrating seamlessly into services and devices. HOMEKIT helps connect your home, a protocol for the "internet of things" (IoT) & HEALTHKIT helps with the integration of wearable technology. iOS8 also includes the new programming language, "Swift", to help make Mac OS and iOS apps flexible and faster to build. Apple also beefed up its enterprise support with greater control over security of mail messages, expanded data protection for all major data types (Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Messages, Notes, Reminders), new productivity features (mail & calendar), and better device management tools.
Last June at the I/O conference Google presented their new Material Design framework. It may be old news to some but there are some great ideas to share from the Google’s approach. Before I was a UX/Interactive Designer I was a motion designer so I am delighted with the new possibilities and the use of animation.
Google worked together with Android, Chrome & across all Google create one consistent framework for mobile, desktop & beyond. Clear simple and intuitive to understand. What if pixels had depth & surface that can transform by touch? This new way of thinking is called Material Design.
Animation is used to delight and reward users with motion. Material surfaces can slide around with physics and respond to touch with subtle ripples.
Google also made it easy with tools and guidelines. They created baseline grids that work across all screens for designers to ensure consistency across screens. The guidelines allow for you to adapt the UI so users already know their way around your app no matter what screen they use.
For developers UI building blocks have been updated to include rich, animated touch feedback, so creating seamless animations from screen to screen is easier. You can also colorize all framework elements to match the theme to your brand.
As you can see the lines are disappearing quickly between devices and screens. The frameworks are in place to make development easier across surfaces & devices. In 20 years time, will we look back at 2014 as the sunset of single surface apps?