How do you imagine your perfect day? You wake up, check your smartphone, have a cup of coffee while reading news feed on a tablet. Then you take a short run and listen to your favorite music on your player. Later your smartwatch tell you that it's time to go to work, you take a car with a built in control panel which knows the route, and then you arrive to your comfortable office where you spend a day with your great helpers – P<U+0421>, laptop, and any other gadget you have at your disposal. What helps you seamlessly interact with all the things mentioned above? It’s a cross-platform UI which unifies various platforms and devices, creating an amazing ecosystem. Is there any consistent cross-platform UI today? How many of them do you know? See the infographics below to dive deeply into this question and find the answers.
For a long period of time there were a lot of endeavors to create a perfect cross-platform UI. You know the major of them: iOS by Apple and Windows by Microsoft. Each one has its own pros and cons, but they both are widely used.
Windows 8 was released when Microsoft realized that it was time for a change. As a result, the world got an operating system with a focus on people and a greater emphasis on a consistency of design across Microsoft products. Windows 8 appeared to show that the “function” can be beautiful. Its fast and fluid interface designed in Metro style based on cleanliness, readability and usage of bold, flat colors became a real boom among millions of users. Screens of Nokia, HTC, Samsung, Windows Phones, Huawei phones and tablets, so as desktops of PCs transformed into colorful blocks in 2012. And gamers were glad to receive Xboxes with the same interface.
Was this release successful? Some users complaint about inconvenience of home page in colored blocks on PCs, and the others found this “Windows shell” structure thought-out and extremely convenient. You can still observe this Metro style in the later version of Windows, and only the future will show what will happen next. One thing is for sure – Microsoft is going on in its intentions to create one application platform for all devices that run Windows.
Apple has always been boasting of its intuitive and easy interface, and its 7th version is not an exception. It’s easily-learnable experience was the trigger for pushing people to choose devices by Apple during the previous years. iOS 7 offered users a clean refined interface without any skeuomorphic elements (opposed to the previous versions). Clear geometric shapes, refined typography, new icons, translucency – these changes in design increased a number of Apple fans. As usual, there were nay-sayers who found Parallax effect annoying, the iOS 7 navigation less intuitive than in previous versions, etc. Anyway, it didn’t affect the annual demand for Apple devices.
As experts say today, a step away from skeuomorphism and a choice of clean flat design was a key point of this UI success.
Whilst Microsoft and Apple developed a cross-platform UI for their ecosystems, Google took it a step further. Google thinks really big and announces the release of Material Design, a cross-platform design language, a truly revolutionary step forward in interface design. It’s grounded in tactile reality, inspired by paper and ink study, and works across all platforms from Android wear to auto. Synthesizing classic principles of a good design with the innovation and possibility of technology and science, Material design gives an opportunity to interact with everything from watches to cars naturally without any problems. All its principles are announced by Google and put in a doc, which most of you have already read.
Material design is based on physical laws and properties that are similar to the real world. All that visual clues that it gives to the users make its easy-to-understand and extremely user-friendly.
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Today Material design turns out to be the most successful attempt to create a cross-platform UI. iOS 7 by Apple and Windows 8 by Microsoft are really great, but Material design is an important step forward in interface design. The ecosystem where it’s used (phones, tablets, PCs, Android TV, Android wear, Android auto) is larger than in Apple and Microsoft, and seems to grow bigger in the nearest time. Its thought-out principles offer really intuitive interface that is easy to work with. Clean and minimal aesthetics of Material design became a huge trend of 2015, accepted by a number of designers worldwide. It works across all the declared platforms soundly, is universally adaptable, responsive to screens of all sizes, and even of different shapes. It’s a huge and a successful step for creating a reality with a unified user experience.
Infographics below will show you a long road to finding a perfect cross-platform UI. Let's start it from the very beginning!
P.S. This infographics is not a comparison chart of all existing cross-platform UIs, but a practical information showing the innovative direction in UI design.
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