Google to release optional design guidelines for Android 4.0

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Google is planning to release a new set of design guidelines for the latest version of its mobile operating system, Android Ice Cream Sandwich.

Many critics have pointed out that Android doesn’t have enough unifying elements among third-party applications (unlike Apple’s iOS), which leads to a broken user experience. However, a set of design and style guidelines could give Android more consistency that would in-turn improve usability overall.

The guidelines will offer developers in-depth instructions (sort of a best practices) for design and style when they’re building new applications, according to Director of Android user experience Matias Duarte.

Duarte, who made the announcement while speaking to The Verge at CES today, said the design guidelines would be made available on a new Android Design website. The guidelines themselves will be built out over time to include more detailed instructions and advice.

Initially, the guide offers information about suggested design elements like typography, color palettes and more. It also contains a list of components that make up the Android UI.

Since Android is an open platform with no centralized hub to approve each application before making it available to the public, developers aren’t required to use the new set of guidelines. Duarte said the guides are intended as developer resources.

The design guidelines won’t give Android instant consistency in regards to the user experience. Yet, I feel pretty confident that over time I’ll personally receive fewer Android smartphone-related questions from parents, friends and other not computer people.

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