Looking back: Android

In this two part series we’ll be looking at over the past 5 years how both iOS and Android app’s have changed and developed. From the UX to the UI. In this edition we are focusing on Android and rather than looking at obscure apps no ones ever heard of or interacted with, we’ve gone for some of the biggest apps that have been around for this time period.

 

Facebook

Facebook 2010-15

Left to right 2010 to 2015

 

Facebook in 2010 wasn’t the prettiest sight… especially looking back. From the gradients to drop shadows and indents and clashing colours it was a minefield of crazy visual aesthetics, but it was much like on the iOS counterpart the overload of information that really highlighted the apps’ issues. Fast forward to 2015 and the gradients have been removed, the colour scheme has been tightened, typography has been given a new lease of life and the menu system has been redesigned. To give an infinitely better experience all round, especially thanks to the new ‘Material Design’ tools allowing for sub-content to be shifted back out and giving space to the main news.

 

Twitter

Twitter 2010-15

Left to right 2010 to 2015

 

The Twitter of 5 years ago was a very different place. Visually skeuphormism was mixed with the very early days of flat design, but quite possibly most annoyingly was the textured nature of the app with backgrounds on backgrounds making reading anything quite difficult. A lot of the UX has stayed the same with only some tidying up being done to make the process much simpler, while ‘messaging’ has been refined and reworked since 2010 (though still annoyingly limited to 140 characters). While the visuals have truly been stripped back using subtle shades and spacial typography, resulting in an app that is a joy to use.

 

BBC

BBC 2010-15

Left to right 2010 to 2015

 

The BBC has been an institution in the UK for over a 100 years but it took quite some time for it to really embrace the internet and more specifically apps. The 2010 look of BBC (News in this case) kept a lot of the ‘web’ issues the BBC already had. Visually it was very much in line with the times and style… it wasn’t innovative but at the time you wouldn’t have really complained all too much. Its the UX and small quirks though that really stand out looking back. The spacing is ridiculously tight, Call To Actions (CTAs) aren’t clear, overlays are weak and make type difficult to read and the colour palette is boring and negative.

The 2015 version of the app on the other hand is gorgeous. Everything has a clear hierarchy, the iconography is clear, the type has been given a facelift and the colour palette has evolved with the times from the 2010 version. 5 years well spent.

 

Maps

Maps 2010-15

Left to right 2010 to 2015

 

Maps have had a home on Android since the beginning and in many ways have been one of the biggest selling points for the platform and Google for all these years. In 2010 the app was already a great success but comparing it to the current version you really do realise how much Google have pushed ahead.

The 10s’ incarnation was obviously visually quite different (and more harsh) but its the missing features that make the biggest difference. From directions to seamless searching to voice control, among a myriad of others things were not present back then and the craziest thing is that even with all of these additions in the 2015 version, it still looks cleaner and better designed.

 

Ebay

Ebay 2010-15

Left to right 2010 to 2015

 

Ebay has never been a brand with a great aesthetic. If you’ve spent more than a couple of seconds on the website ever since its inception its abundantly clear that Ebay quite simply doesn’t care. In 2010 the app actually didn’t look that bad… even when comparing it to the current website the brand use. Yes, stylistically everything is outdated, but the big buttons, big/clear iconography and lame UX make the app easy to use. The 5 years have given the app a slight visual facelift and a bigger UX turnaround; from re-arranging the header, to making the menu system smoother and limiting the huge buttons, but the gradients still remain. In all honesty the only way you’d be able to tell apart one app from the other is the weird background textures seen in 2010 that are missing in 2015. Simply put, the UX worked then and in many ways still works now.


Having seen how much (or little) these Android applications have changed over the last 5 years, next week we’ll be delving into a select number of iOS applications and seeing how they have changed. Until we finally delve into the OS’ themselves and compare / contrast the changes the have made in that time.