Overall I’m not impressed with anything about Android. The iconography lacks sophistication, the typography is derivative and there’s an overall lack of cohesion to the experience of the operating system. Android clearly feels like a system built and designed by engineers, not designers.
It comes as somewhat of a relief that some of my favorite apps look/feel/work almost as good on Android as they do on iOS (Instapaper and Dropbox come to mind). The problem is, even when apps are great, the OS they live in feels clunky and poorly designed. It’s like driving a Porsche on horrible road in a rundown town.
Those are the opening paragraphs of Michael Mulvey’s short but descriptive article, DESIGNING FOR ANDROID. I am not a designer like Michael, but as a user, I have pretty much said the same thing for years: Android lacks finesse. It is almost vulgar.
My best Android OS smartphones have been those that largely hide vanilla Android away – and even at that… iOS is by far more refined, and Windows Phone is heaven. None of these stop me form using an Android smartphone for the OS’ great customisability and apps. I have owned and used more Android smartphones than I have phones running any other OS. But it has to be said: Android OS needs polishing. A long overdue polishing.
Michael ends his article with the following lines:
Whether you step back and look at the entire ecosystem of Android or closely examine to the user interface, iconography and typography, it’s just not fun to use, beautiful to look at or enjoyable to design for.
As a user, I agree about usage and looks. I will leave the design aspect to designers.