Jason Snell has written an interesting piece at Macworld, berating Google for using its Material Design user-interface in iOS apps. In other words, Google ignores all the iOS conventions and instead makes its iPhone and iPad apps look exactly like Android ones. This can be seen in everything from the ‘white card on gray background’ overall design all the way down to small details like using vertical rather than horizontal dots as a menu icon.
He argues that Google is acting like Microsoft did back in the early 90s, suddenly making its Mac apps look and behave like Windows ones. It is, he suggests, arrogant …
Participating on someone else’s operating system means you’re on their turf. Resisting the local conventions and importing design from a different operating system is as offensive as an American going to a far-off country and expecting everyone to speak English and accept U.S. cash.
Maybe it’s not just arrogance. Perhaps Google is trying to offer iOS users a ‘sneak preview’ of Android, in the hope that some will be tempted to take a closer look and perhaps make the switch.
Either way, it’s an ill-considered approach. Google apps don’t look right on iOS devices because they don’t fit in with the expected design language. If you live in an iOS world, Material Design apps just look like they are half-finished.
You’re less likely to think ‘hey, this is an interesting UI, let’s find out more about it’ than you are to think ‘Wow, Google has no idea how to design apps.’ Far from making it more likely for iOS users to be tempted over to the dark side, it makes it significantly less likely.
Snell points to Apple Music as an example of how to play nicely in someone else’s environment: the Android app drops Apple’s icons for sharing and menus in favour of the ones familiar to Android users (iOS left, Android right).
It’s perhaps a small complaint, but I think it’s a valid one: the behavior isn’t just rude, it’s also dumb.