Well, this post by Min Ming on Android UI fragmentation has certainly been doing the rounds today, and while there is no doubt that UI fragmentation across Android, and even some of their Google-branded offerings exists, instead of looking at how it’s headed in a positive direction, the post chose to pick on some disparate cases. Hey, it wasn’t made up, and the point stands, but below are how the core Google apps in Ice Cream Sandwich are doing things right in terms of unification, and setting a standard developers and UI dudes and dudettes can certainly use as examples.
By the way, Google, you can do SO MUCH MORE to make things easy for developers in providing some rigid guidelines, and ultimately, for your end users, getting accustomed to a consistent experience across the OS and applications. I mean, really, how hard is it to set up some UI patterns like Android Patterns.
Click to embiggen images! This reduced size view does their gloriousness no justice.
The More icon AKA the new Menu
The action bar may sit at the top or bottom (called the Split Action Bar when at the bottom) dependent on the use case of the app, but the more icon remains the same; a vertical ellipsis. Granted, this works because of the presence of purely virtual buttons, essentially removing the Menu button, and the hit or miss guessing game users played by tapping it and wondering if anything else was hidden from them.
The action bar
No lines between the icons. OK? Cool.
The search bar
Throw in voice search where need be, or allow the More icon to apply search filters, but it looks pretty standard across the board to me.
Actually, I realised that @meinhyperspeed’s post on UI patterns and elements of Ice Cream Sandwich will help crystallise things too.
Maybe I’ll do a part two to cover the rest, but I hope you get the point.
Thanks to Nick Butcher from Google for providing some further clarify over on G+.