Best designed Android apps – Google’s new picks

by: Bogdan PetrovanDecember 27, 2013

best designed apps winter collection

The Android Design team from Google HQ published a new list of Android apps that “go above and beyond the guidelines” when it comes to design.

Google first published a Beautiful Design collection in July, praising apps like Pattrn, Pocket, Flipboard, or Pinterest, for their masterfully crafted design elements. Since then, a new batch of beautiful applications have hit the Play Store, while several apps were updated in line with Google’s design guidelines.

The new Beautiful Design Winter 2013 app collection contains apps “with masterfully crafted design details such as beautiful presentation of photos, crisp and meaningful layout and typography, and delightful yet intuitive gestures and transitions”.

In a post on the Android Developers Blog, Marco Paglia from Google’s Android Design team highlighted three apps in particular:

  • Timely – this alarm clock app is rich in “liquid smooth” transitions, and using it feels like interacting with a real object. In a few words, Timely makes setting an alarm fun, says Paglia.
  • Circa – Google praised this news reading app for its “fast, elegant and full of beautiful design details throughout”. One of the finest design traits of Circa is its sophisticated typography.
  • Etsy – a “wonderfully detailed” app, Etsy impressed Paglia and his colleagues with its thoughtfully designed transitions and subtle design elements.

Also making the top are these six apps:

Finally, two apps from the previous list are also present in the Winter Collection:

What are some of the best designed Android apps in your opinion?


  • Jayfeather787

    The Android Authority App!

  • Foramex

    Continue the good work app devs! The best phone isn’t worth anything without great apps to come with it.

  • Android Developer

    Isn’t it odd that Google puts so much effort telling developers to keep apps having “pure android” look&feel , yet some of the apps they’ve chosen here look like IOS apps?

    Apps like “Pinterest”, “Tumblr”, “Yahoo Weather” and “Grand St.” – all have weird action bars that make them look more like IOS apps.

    As far as I remember Google said on some lectures and articles that apps that don’t follow the design guidelines won’t get featured, and here they choose such apps as having the best designs ?

    • D.B

      I think users would like the design of iOS apps… They are premium designs. Everyone knows Apple Apps are far better than Android. Developers would be fools not to implement high end graphics as they would on iOS. Now that apple’s design is now flat. There is no difference between the design on the two platforms.

      • Android Developer

        No, there is a huge difference, and Android developers expect things to have the Android look&feel and not of IOS look&feel.
        I’m not talking about icons “flat” design, which Android already had before in some manner (check the Holo design, which was introduced on Honeycomb) .

        I’m talking about UI components.
        Check out those links:

        not to mention so many Google IO lectures talking about designing Android apps…

        • aergern

          iOS designs are “premium” because Apple has told the population at large that they are and they should be thankful for them. A company/dev that just reuses iOS designs and graphic are just plain lazy during the process of bringing their apps to Android. Pure and simple.

          • D.B

            I love their laziness! Great designs on iOS. If it’s not broke, why fix it? I’m just glad those idiots at CNBC got a real app. That is the TRUE definition of laziness. They made a mobile app, which was really just a image with link, that LINK you to the mobile version of their website. It was a JOKE of a app. Glad to say, they finally got off their butts and made a nice app. Made me proud.

          • Android Developer

            No, you are wrong. This is not laziness if you force the UI to look like other platforms.
            Often, it makes the app more buggy, slower and ultimately cause low ratings. it might even take more time than to use the native look & feel.

            just look at the comparison of Hotmail app vs Outlook app.
            it doesn’t matter how much MS has worked on this app and how much PR it got on many blogs – users didn’t like the app and it has low ratings even now.
            users gave the older app, with the native look &feel, more ratings than it has now , even though it was outdated.
            see here:
            it still has 3 stars. before, it had 4.2 stars, and that’s for an outdated UI :

            apps like pinterest, facebook and instagram do not follow the guidelines, and they keep succeeding only because they are already in the big league, where users keep coming in just because other users are inside.
            in fact, facebook has a low ratings even now, though it was much worse before when it was HTML based.

          • D.B

            Can you develop some apps for TABLETS!!!!!!!!!!!!? How can I buy a Nexus 7 if there aren’t any apps made for it?

          • Android Developer

            Anyone can develop apps for tablets. Not just me. If you wish to learn how to develop for tablets, you can watch some Google IO lectures or read articles about it.
            Of course you can buy a Nexus 7. It also doesn’t cost much.
            What do you mean by “there aren’t any apps made for it” ?

            The apps are made for Android devices. Developers can choose which screen sizes their app should run on (it’s in buckets of sizes: ) .

        • D.B

          iOS 7 changes those design specs. Everything is squares and rectangles. No curves, just like Android. ;) they will merge soon. Only difference are bottom tabs. Makes sense, Android has that hard coded in, so no need. Either way, Android has no authority on how one chooses to design their apps. It’s not like they are going to deny you. ;) They even allow malware in the play store. So, you should be fine with whatever you choose. And the companies that had balls of steel and designed how they felt like designing got the best design. Not even sure anyone would even listen to Google on how to design “your” app. xD no “real” developer would listen to Google in terms of design.

          • Android Developer

            No, it’s wrong to just copy the IOS app, since usually it has less features and power than what Android apps have, and it’s confusing less-techy users who got used to how things work.
            even about icons, the share icon is a very common thing across apps, and it looks like a dot that splits to 2 dots (hence sharing something from your to multiple people), but on IOS it’s completely different and looks like a horizontal rectangle that an arrow just goes outside of it .
            it’s not intuitive for people who got used to something on the OS.

            You don’t need to watch Google lectures to see this point. each platform has its own “atmosphere” of how things look like.

            oh, and companies do it usually because they wish to save money on designers and developers. they sometimes use Phonegap to make the app “cross platform” , but the result is noticeable.

            i think only games can have this excuse of cross platform, but even there there should be a meaning to android features (like what the back button should do).

          • D.B

            Well buddy, when you get the balls to design an app that looks similar to iOS is when you will get best design! Good luck. I look forward to your apps.

          • Android Developer

            IOS apps maybe have the best design for IOS, not for Android.

            When you choose a different UI, you are alienating Android users.

            And there are already apps that look similar to IOS, like those:

            Whoever installs them, want to have the same look as on IOS.

            Anyway, if you ask about my experience as an Android developer, I can tell you that I’ve been an Android developer for over 3 years now.

          • D.B

            3 years is great. Now please design some HIGH quality apps please. We want optimized tablet apps, with iOS design schemes! Trust me, it’s what the people want. ;) We only use Android for the freedom, not the design. Design can use a lot of improvement. I’m sure many others will agree.

            Since you’re a developer, you can start the trend on Android? Or better yet, I have an app I need you to make. How great are your coding skills? I’m creating a bank (in a sense) API’s, Encryption, and much more will be required. I already created the design. ;)

            Here’s a sample. :D Learning to code as we speak. I only know basic C++ and learning advanced Java. :(

          • Android Developer

            I don’t think so. reasons:1.I’m not a freelancer.
            2.I already have a job. I should have a very good reason to leave my job before doing such a thing.
            3.I already have side projects that I make on my own
            4.If I choose to make a side project, it should be unique , fun to develop, and I should be feeling that it has a good future.
            5.I do not wish to make apps that don’t look well on Android, especially if I have a choice. I am an Android user, so I hate when other developers and designer do this mistake. Even if I ignore it , I can see they always have buggy/slow UX just because they tried to use an IOS design. Sadly many Israeli apps do this, but I think it’s because they wish to pay less money for the design.

            About designing HQ apps, who said I don’t? Of course, it depends on the client I work for too (since he makes the decisions of the UX and the app itself), but I try my best to make it have the native look & feel, fast, and without bugs.

            However, if you wish, I can show you links that could help you to develop for Android. I can also help you on StackOverflow if you wish

          • D.B

            I see. You hate changing the future of of the wallet. :( shame. Check out the app “Circles” Probably the best design ever to be put in the Play Store. Sure isn’t a Android design ;)

            However, I need you to start making some money. Make some apps for “iOS” and make millions. :) Nobody buys apps on Android. Only on iOS do people purchase apps! SyncMe $1.99 iOS = $3,000,000. Enjoy.

            I have plenty of links to learn. I’m in a Java and C++ university class. We work with coders from the top companies to critique our work and help us along the way. Had a conference with Oracle last month and YouTube a few weeks ago. I have plenty of resources to learn. What I don’t have is time. It’s going to take months, if not years to learn all the languages to build iOS and Android apps. I’m a Finance major. I guess I will need to head down to the Computer Science section. They can code like 7 different languages PERFECTLY :O masters!

            PS: looked at your app. I’ve used it many times. Don’t they have an iOS version? Not bad, they finally fixed the UI. Didn’t like the previous one.

          • Android Developer

            I don’t hate “changing the fureture of the wallet” . Wish I could work on everything and learn everything, but I’m a mortal and so I focus on what’s interesting for me and what I feel comfortable to work on.

            Searched for “circles” on the play store. Found so many apps but I can’t find what you meant.

            About syncme, It’s not my app. I am involved in making it. I do not make the decisions (especially not the big ones) of this app.
            I do not program to IOS because I don’t want to (I like Android more).
            About links, if you wish you can check out “the new boston” for learning many computer languages (and other stuff) for free.

            You don’t have to take the same road of learning via the university as I’ve done. It might be different at your country (and year), but for me, the university gave mostly theoretical knowledge and with almost no teaching of programming languages. The reason I guess is that technologies change, but ideas live forever.
            It doesn’t matter how many programming languages you know (especially because many are quite similar). It’s how you use them.

            The IOS version of syncme does exist, and it exists for longer time. It has its own UX and features, while Android has its own.
            For now, everything on the Android version is free while some things on the IOS version isn’t .

            Good luck!

  • Masson Liang

    I love Timely, but it isn’t optimized for ART yet.

    It takes several seconds to open the app.

    • One of those guys

      Try clearing the cache, doing an uninstall/reboot/reinstall cycle. That’s helped several apps regain their speed under ART for me.

      • Masson Liang

        Yes, I’ve tried this numerous times.

  • celze20

    iOS apps are smoother and more “buttery” than most Android apps. Take Google search for iOS for example, transitions are better and smoother than Android version of the same app. Once Google get their animation API’s up to snuff, the difference between the two platforms will widen.

  • I absolutely LOVE Timely. Beautiful application!

  • Groud Frank

    Cal: Calendar is gorgeous.

  • Albin

    Fairly new to smart phones, I’m increasingly finding apps just a nuisance when compared with equivalent well-designed mobile-optimized web sites I can bookmark in the browser and leave the irritating updates to the cloud dwellers.

    I’d like to see an article on well-designed web sites that make apps redundant, and see more effort by Google, which is doing so much with Chrome browser, to applaud the more efficient and less irritating user experience.