The Must-Know New Features for Designers and Developers on Android 10
Tuesday October 29, 2019
At the end of 2019, Android’s global market share of smartphones was a staggering 74.45%—which equates to nearly 2.5 billion people according to Stats Counter. That means that when an Android update goes out, engineers and designers are forced to reassess their building process and either find brand new ways of interacting with users or evolve their existing products.
The launch of Android 10 in September 2019 with its number of new and upgraded features is cause for much excitement, as well as a little trepidation as product builders work to find the next innovative way to leverage Android’s features to create impactful user experiences. At Connected, we view an update as an opportunity and have gone through the new features to identify which ones are most likely to influence the end users experience and why they should be a focus area for product builders.
Impactful New Features
Dark Theme is intended to be a system-wide dark mode—although thus far it is limited to a few menus and apps. With users consistently having issues with bright screens, smartphone-induced migraines, and readability, designers and developers should be factoring in dark mode into their design considerations.
As more and more apps plug into Dark Theme, nothing will prove to be more jarring and off-putting for a user than having a brightly-lit app that doesn’t offer the feature. This is particularly true given that Dark Theme automatically turns on when users move into low-power mode at critical times when a charger isn’t available.
After the success and popularity of iOS’ Screen Time, Android has hit back with their own version that helps drive a healthier relationship between users and their smartphones. Digital Wellbeing not only gives users the ability to track how much time they spend on their phone, but also has two further features within it: Focus mode and Family Link.
Focus mode allows users to silence all of their apps for a set amount of time and Family Link gives people access to their loved ones’ screen time data so that they can ensure that they aren’t losing sight of the day to day in exchange of living their lives on their devices.
For product builders, these two functions open them up to increased scrutiny, with the worry of being perceived as harmful, addictive, and a time drain added to the list of building considerations. For Focus mode, this means designing with either value-add elements that mean that your product doesn’t consistently find itself “turned off” or preempting the user so that you are helping them identify moments of focus. Building with Focus mode in mind will also help perception in Family Link so that parents (in particular) don’t begin to demonize your product for monopolizing their children’s/teenager’s time.
After the success of Smart Reply on Gmail, Google has brought the same feature into Android 10. Now users will be able to respond to texts or other messages without opening the app with the assistance of machine learning.
For product builders, this means that text messages don’t have to interrupt the usage of their own apps in the same way as texting currently does. It’s now a crucial consideration to design with the interruptions in mind and in a way that doesn’t lessen the impact of your product.
At Connected, we have worked with several clients to promote accessible product development from a legal necessity, to a genuine design consideration with a view on end-user impact. Android 10 has stepped up its accessibility credibility through the development of Live Caption and Project Euphonia.
Live Caption auto-subtitles audio and visual clips in real-time without needing to use the internet and Project Euphonia is designed to better understand the transcription from users with a speech impediment. As different markets open and smartphones continue their trajectory toward being the only piece of tech (almost) everyone on the planet has, designing with accessibility in mind will become more important. Android is setting the gold standard, and as builders it is on us to build to that standard.
In our product-filled world and our product-loaded smartphones, it is the product strategists, engineers, and designers that look for the tiniest areas for improvement that define the marketplace for everyone else.
At Connected, our delivery process incorporates the curiosity that usually defines great discovery work—the ceaseless need to deliver real-world impact to users. And with the release of Android 10, our designers and engineers are once again re-answering our defining question: How do we build better products?