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Ask designers what their choice desktop operating system is, and almost everyone will point you to Apple’s OSX. The ratio has been pretty one-sided when it comes to their mobile platform of choice as well, but things have been changing rapidly of late. Android, which started as the second choice for creatives around the world, has been gaining tremendous popularity over the last few years and that has reflected in the number of quality apps for designers available on the platform.

Whether you are a graphic designer, an architect or interior designer, the choice of apps on the Play Store is big enough to be confusing at times. What follows is my hand-picked list of some of the best Android apps for designers. It includes tools to help you create, manage your work and participate in design communities across the web.


With Android 4.0+, Google introduced the Holo scheme of design principles that promoted clean and digitally authentic design. Many third-party apps have since adopted these design themes, but the phenomenon isn’t exclusive to just social networking clients and calculators. In this roundup, we’ll be taking a look at fifteen awesome Holo-inspired games that you can grab for your Android handset from the Play Store today!


Every year there’s one Monday morning in June where the company Google loves to hate takes the very same stage that previously hosted Android announcements to present updates to iOS, amongst other things. This year was no difference but with a rumoured significant design change, the 2013 instalment is perhaps one of the most anticipated.

iOS 7 has delivered a new design with a skeuomorphic-less, flatter design somewhat resemblant of the design principles of Google’s Holo and Microsoft’s Metro. In this article, we’re going to take a look at iOS 7 and see how it stacks up to the incumbent versions of Android.


Earlier this week, we shared with you a collection of more than 30 beautiful and Holo-designed apps. Had Connor set out to write this round-up a year ago, or even six months ago, he would have had trouble coming up with decent apps. Yet nowadays, most developers seem to have adopted — and adapted — the Google design language in their apps.

This, in turn, has been superb for us users. Apps that are still plagued with the Froyo/Gingerbread dark grey tabs on top are becoming rare and irrelevant in the face of fierce competition from newcomers that not only value functionality but also esthetics.

Looking at my own usage, I know that I was a lot more forgiving a year ago. I placed features above design, and picked my apps based on that. However, I have the privilege of using an ecosystem that offers choice and variety. Whatever functionality I need, there are probably more than five apps in the Play Store that offer it, if not ten or more.

So now I simply can’t forgive an app developer who’s stuck a few years behind their times. I want apps that I can enjoy looking at as well as using. As a matter of fact, the only relic I have on my phone is SafeWallet, a password and personal data vault that I have invested in and that works with my other phones and computers.

What about you? Is design becoming more and more important in your app decision process? Or are you still OK with yesteryear looks as long as the app does what you need it to?

Holo first saw light in Android 3.0 for tablets and has since found popularity in Android 4.0 and above with Ice Cream Sandwich and Jellybean. No doubt the best looking aspect of stock apps, it was only a matter of time before the design principles started to make their way into third-party apps.

In this roundup, we’re going to take a look at some of our favourite Holo apps that you can install to give your phone the design unity it deserves!


Back in the good’ol Android days, when the operating system was still trying to get its feet on the ground, we were spoiled with choice in regards to form factors. Manufacturers were trying all the known designs with Android: candybar QWERTY, slider QWERTY, dual-screen clamshell, as well as the now popular touchscreen slab.

However, the more we got progressed, the less bold designs and form factors became, and the bigger the screens had to be, which pushed all devices towards the very boring — albeit arguably most practical — touchscreen candybar or slab form. With each new announcement, each new flagship, we seemed to see less design innovation and more of a reiteration on what has proven to work.

We’re now at a time where any device with a non-slab form factor is reserved to select markets or operators — clamshells for Japan, a few sparse QWERTYs for the USA. For the rest of the world, it’s all touch, touch, touch. And it has gotten to a point where people who prefer other form factors don’t even have a choice anymore, unless they want to be stuck with outdated specifications and software.

I have owned, used and abused an HTC Desire Z for over 19 months, and despite my love for the hardware QWERTY — I use medical jargon, abbreviations, English, French and transliterated Arabic, a mix that no software keyboard could possibly handle well — I eventually had to admit that I needed a new, faster, better smartphone. Given that I wanted the best device, and something that would still be relevant in a year’s time, I caved in and purchased a Samsung Galaxy S3. It wasn’t an easy decision, and had there been a modern and relevant equivalent to the Desire Z available to me, I wouldn’t have even considered the S3.

This is where I stand, but what about you? Were you forced into the touchscreen slab form factor by the lack of other decent choices? Or do you think that it’s the best compromise between size, volume, and all the different functions that a smartphone could provide?

Early in 2012, Google released a set of design principles to aid developers in creating apps that complement the Ice Cream Sandwich user interface, also known as ‘Holo’. These guidelines aimed to allow for apps to ‘enchant’ and ‘amaze’ users, and simplify the user experience.

Now, while developers do not have to oblige Google and adhere to this aesthetic, many have embraced it with good results. This roundup highlights a few such applications worthy of your attention. Some you’ll know and probably already use, but there might be a few surprises too.


SketchBook Mobile from AutoDesk accomplishes what I believe many apps fail to do: provide a simple yet powerful way to make drawings on Android. This app is well thought-out, designed, and built. This effort pays off as the app in the right hand can produce some amazing results. Check out theSketchBook Flickr group for some amazing showcases, and read on for my review of the app itself.


This week, the Android Developers site got an impressive update with a stylish new look and a reorganized layout to display their new guide on how to design, developer and distribute Android apps. The site now supports developers a lot better and goes into even further detail on the different aspects of app development.

I think the new look definitely gives away some signs of what Google believes to be most important. Upon first visiting the site you see a very striking image accompanied by the text, Make your Android apps look great.


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, you’re probably aware of the battle that has been raging between the iOS and Android platforms. Loyalists on both sides have been taking turns throwing punches at each other. For a good few years, the one punch Android fans were having a tough time deflecting was about the visual quality of apps on iOS. Make no mistake: to this day, iOS apps trump their Android counterparts in the aesthetics department.

Things have been changing pretty rapidly though, and since our first roundup of beautiful Android apps, a huge number of new contenders have arrived. Here, then, is a look and some more Android apps that are gorgeous to look at and – in most cases, if not all – also do a stellar job of functioning as well as they look.


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