Google now lets Apple’s UIKit come on in place of Material Design

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Google has announced that it would abandon Material Design in favor of Apple’s UIKit in its iOS apps.

Google applications for iOS have employed a Material Design custom UI that closely resembles that of their Android counterparts for the past decade or so, offering a unified Google experience regardless of platform.

However, as Apple’s design language has grown, Google applications have become increasingly disassociated from the rest of the iOS experience. Therefore, now is the moment to make a change. Google has just announced that it would stop using Material Design user interface components in its iOS apps in favor of Apple’s own UIKit. The changeover should result in less work for Google’s iOS development team, but more crucially, it’s probable that Google’s iOS applications will seem less like intruders on Apple devices as a result of the shift. They should appear and feel more like they belong on iOS, rather than following Android’s UI traditions.

Material Design is Google’s in-house design language, which was launched in 2014. It has been used to unify the appearance and feel of the company’s apps and services across several platforms. Google put its open source iOS Material component libraries into maintenance mode early this year, according to Verkoeyen, after doing a “deep evaluation” of what it takes to provide a “hallmark” Google experience on iOS. It discovered that many of the custom elements it began developing over a decade ago to bridge holes in the UIKit design language are no longer required. In a series of tweets, Google software designer Jeff Verkoeyen shared the news.

Google’s iOS design components have “slowly drifted farther and further away from Apple platform foundations since those fundamentals were also developing year after year,” according to Verkoeyen. As Apple’s design language has grown, Google applications have become increasingly disassociated from the rest of the iOS experience.

Google placed its open source iOS Material component libraries into maintenance mode early this year, according to Verkoeyen, after doing a “deep evaluation” of what it means to provide a “hallmark” Google experience on iOS. Many of the bespoke features it began developing over a decade ago to remedy gaps in UIKit’s design language are no longer required.

“With the introduction of SwiftUI and significant UIKit improvements in iOS 14+, it’s never been easier to build a great branded experience with a tiny amount of code.”

Verkoeyen anticipates that by switching to UIKit, his team will spend less time writing bespoke code, resulting in faster and more frequent releases. Furthermore, the adoption of UIKit should allow the firm to integrate its products more tightly with iOS. Those advantages, though, may be outweighed by the fact that the company’s apps may wind up seeming more at home on Apple devices.

The change in strategy will likely result in Google applications seeming more “native” on Apple devices like the iPhone or iPad, as well as less work for Google’s iOS design team. A practical illustration of how the change may be implemented would be the replacement of Android-esque buttons in Google apps with more iOS-based features.

Many people are reading Verkoeyen’s terminology in this thread — notably the statement of “tighter integrations” — as implying that Google’s iOS apps would follow more of Apple’s mobile OS design guidelines in the future. For example, this may mean utilizing fewer custom buttons that appear like they belong on Android.

 

Jason Snell, a long-time Apple writer, put it like this: “This is good news. It’s good for Google’s developers, who no longer have to build that custom code. And more importantly, it’s good for people who use Google’s apps on iOS, because with any luck they’ll be updated faster, work better, and feel more like proper iOS apps, not invaders from some other platform.”

According to Verkoeyen, the business is now able to “really make goods feel great on Apple platforms” by abandoning Google’s bespoke code and developing custom code.

Of course, if you’re like many of the TrustedReviews team, you hop between these two mobile platforms on a regular basis, this news might not be so welcome. Nonetheless, the prospect of improved appearance and performance in iOS apps such as YouTube and Google Maps seems attractive.

Google has lately been hiring for its Apple development team, according to MacRumors, indicating that it is moving forward with these more native-feeling iOS apps.

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