When Android TV debuted back in 2014, many apps on the platform shared the same design language, but that disappeared over time as that UI became dated. Now, at I/O 2023, Google is introducing a new set of components for app developers to speed up developing apps for Android TV OS that brings a new look for those apps.
However, the problem is that no one pays attention to this. In Android, there are dozens of applications that do not follow Google’s design guidelines, and there is no control. This creates inconsistency in the system. This is where Apple wins.
Android TV Guidelines
Google is introducing a new set of design guidelines for apps built for Android TV OS – the underlying platform for Android TV and Google TV. The new guidelines give developers a point of reference when designing for the platform and include a few key elements:
- Featured carousel
- Immersive lists (with visual content)
- Lists (with text content)
- Navigation drawer
- Tabbed interface
The new guideline actually looks like Google TV’s home screen. The entire UI is full of rounded cards and buttons, with an easy-to-understand and navigate grid of content.
Lack of Control
The problem with Android is that there is no control over the implementation of design guidelines. Unlike Apple, which has strict guidelines for app developers, Google allows developers to design their apps as they please. This creates a problem in Android where dozens of applications do not follow Google’s design guidelines. This leads to inconsistency in the system.
The Advantage of Apple
This is where Apple wins. Apple has strict design guidelines that app developers must follow. This leads to consistency in the system. When you use an app on an iPhone, you know exactly what to expect. This is not the case with Android. With so many apps not following the guidelines, users are confused about how to use certain apps.
Google’s new design guidelines for Android TV OS are a step in the right direction, but the question remains: will developers follow them? The lack of control in Android means that it is up to the developers to follow the guidelines. With no repercussions for not following them, it is unlikely that all developers will follow them.
Compose for TV
To assist in bringing these new designs to life more quickly, Google is bringing all of the core elements to Compose for TV. This new design language won’t be a requirement for Android TV OS apps going forward, but it’s reasonable to expect we’ll be seeing some apps, especially from Google, adopting the new look over time.