Chapter 2

What Makes Android Different

For many years since its release, the Android OS has been behaving like a teenager in the grip of raging hormones. Growth has been nothing short of explosive, and the changes have been sweeping and profound. With the release of Ice Cream Sandwich, the user interface (UI) standards and design elements have changed dramatically, and the platform has matured and stabilized somewhat. Nevertheless the OS has retained its rebellious hacker DNA with unique features that are authentically Android.

Welcome to Flatland

The first thing you might notice when comparing the Android OS apps with Apple iOS is that the world of Android apps is flat. Flat are the buttons. Flat are the content areas. And flat are all the toolbars and controls. Just like the Flatland people from Rudy Rucker’s story, “Message Found in a Copy of Flatland,” Android does not “see” anything outside two dimensions. Nor does it pretend to be anything other than a pure digital artifact: a thing imagined and created, not real in any physical sense. It’s a piece of software that runs the hardware, not the other way around. And that, as far as I am concerned, is a very good thing. Why? Because dispensing with the need to make things “real” and “pretty” allows the content to shine and sets a stage for the authentic minimalist digital experience for your customers. In many ways, Android 4.0 uses a flat digital visual scheme similar to that used in Windows Modern UI, another mobile operating ...

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