Google planning more than UI changes: Project Hera bridges Android, Chrome and Search

by: Andrew GrushApril 7, 2014

gmail new features

Last week we not only learned about a possible redesign coming to Gmail, but another rumor suggested that the new design would be applied to all of Google’s core apps. Over the weekend Android Police further expanded on the rumor of a major overhaul coming to the next version of Android.

AP’s sources not only confirm that an app redesign is on its way, but Google is also getting ready to dramatically change up the way their mobile OS works with what is being internally referred to as Project Hera. While not all the details are clear just yet, Hera is allegedly Google’s attempt to further bridge Android, Chrome and Google Search.


Renders showing off the alleged app redesign that will come with Project Hera

The idea is that Hera will introduce a special Chromium build that allows Android and third-party apps to run certain tasks through the web. What does this mean exactly? Basically Hera will be replacing the current multi-tasking view, bringing us mini-HTML5 applets that let us quickly perform specific functions without opening the full (native) version of the app.

Not only would you be able to reply to messages without opening full apps, you’d also be able to get a quick view of your navigation app and respond to the information presented, tweak your calendar and much more.


The new HTML5 card “multi-tasking view” (render)

Improving the way we use our mobile devices and the web

As you can imagine, Hera would certainly make it much easier and quicker to perform key tasks from both Google and 3rd party apps, but it sounds like the HTML5/Chrome integration will go a step further than this. Google has already done a good job of using Google Now cards and other efforts to more seamlessly bring together our desktop and mobile experience, but Hera may expand on this.

Imagine starting a task within the mobile or desktop version of Chrome, only for this information to show up in the multi-tasking view on your Android device. Essentially that means any task you perform in Chrome (Search, Gmail, Google Drive, etc) could potentially be presented within the HTML5 card view.

Bottom-line, Google wants to bring Google Search and Chrome technology to the forefront of our mobile and desktop experience in an even bigger way than we’ve already seen, while also providing a seamless experience regardless of what device we are using. Now some of the examples we’ve heard and seen might not prove completely accurate, but if the core idea of the rumor proves correct we could be in for the most radical change to Android that we’ve seen since Android 4.0.

What do you think, like the idea of deeper integration between Google Search, Chrome and Android? Interested in the potential of a seamless experience that follows you no matter what device you are using? Let us know what you think in the comments below! Here’s to hoping we learn more official information at Google I/O this summer.

  • Very good

  • Shark Bait

    Sounds like chrome os and android are beginning to come together.
    Also looks like their taking after some of paranoid androids ux

    • Mur

      Chrome OS is so much more limited than android though, all it is is the chrome browser with some bookmarks pinned to the bottom.

      • Shark Bait

        Your right, I don’t think they could ever fully merge, but this could be a nice coming together. I’ve always wanted more integration between my phone and Chromebook so maybe this could be that

        • RarestName

          Install Linux on yours!

  • Pan Szym

    This is our future – smartphone as a brick if you can’t connect to the web.

    • Brian

      its already that way now.

    • Marc

      That’s kind of the way it is already though… If my connection is not working on my phone, there isn’t a whole lot that I can use it for. Playing music maybe…

      • Mur

        Or… you know…CALLING :P. Unless by connection you also meant cellular networks, in that case yeah it’s as good as a brick

        • Winston Purnomo

          I love it when stuff do everything they’re not supposed to do just fine but suck at the things they should be doing. My phone often fails to perform calls well. =)

  • Mark Washington

    Please be wrong? I don’t like it! But we will see.

    • It might become better when they release it :)

      • Mark Washington

        Very true!

  • Bradley Uffner

    This sounds awesome! The ability to use custom layouts and respond programatically to the user within the multi-tasking view will be a massive productivity boost.

    I like the general layout changes coming also, but the size of the app title bar seems a bit too big and wasteful in these screenshot. It might just be cause the title bar and the status bar are the same color, but it looks huge. I hope that get tweaked or, better yet, made customizable.

  • Stavros

    And this is how it begins! Smartphones will be all in one devices soon. It’d be really could to plug your android phone on a monitor/tv and then you would have a chromium set. I’m sure that this will make android the best OS. (iPhone user). ;)

    • KK

      Well actually smartphones are already supposed to be all in one devices, but with so many people liking the iphone the growth of software complexity had to slow down in order not to alienate people. And If you think plugging in your phone to have a computer experience is cool, well guess what? Motorola did that a few years ago and it bombed. Hopefully the world has changed since that because i think that feature is pretty awesome as well.

    • Mur

      Screw chromium, it’s the most limited desktop OS out there! Your idea in general would be pretty awesome though.

      • KK

        Sure its limited, but it does contain features that Android does not have. So by adding it to Android will only be beneficial

      • Marco Scannadinari

        Chromium is not an operating system

  • Jeldo

    these renders are def. not by a ui/ux designer. so lets wait. a lot. i/o can’t come soon enough.

    • Biavela

      I thought so too until Google Keep got an update very recentrly, it looks a lot like those renders.

      • Jeldo

        I have to agree, but i am sure those renders came after the keep update. at least for me. ;)
        (plus the huge inconsitency in them. look at the searchbar in those. makes me shiver. XD)
        plus two (2!) hamburger menus in that newegg render?!?!?
        i do believe this story is legit, but those renders aren’t.

        • The Newegg shot is actually of Newegg’s mobile site. The post is less about the design and more about the functionality of Hera, but I can assure you that our mockups stick as close as possible to our information.

  • neu

    I could be misinformed, but it feels like they’re helping themselves to some Paranoid Android goodies. Its all good PA is proud. What’s next? Google to integrate pie-like controls :D It would be heaven.

    • Guest123

      google has actually had pie type of controls for a long time, remember the stock browsers quick controls?

    • Shark Bait

      Looks that way indeed. Not the first time they’ve taken inspiration from custom ROMs. This is where open source works really well !

  • Thiago Luiz Gonzalez

    well i just hope it will be somehow like this great concept!!!

    • Chris Martinelli

      Close, getting pretty good, but still not as good as WebOS had it 4 years ago.

      • Guest123

        WebOS had some great things, especially how easy it was to hack, root, swap kernels, etc. Sadly, HP never got it to run effeciently — web engine within web engine didn’t cut it.

        I still think QNX is by far the top shelf for operating systems, especially in the mobile landscape, but like WebOS it went to a dieing company.

    • asd

      Nice…I think it should be called lollipop because it will have different colors and themes to choice from and a lighter, faster, “sweeter” UI

    • Kevin

      little bit out of date, jellybean changed the design language away from this ICS look this video has. Although google now in the notifications would be better than the left swipe.

  • It remains to be seen. I use Firefox on Android and Chrome on the desktop, and I really don’t like my notifications to be mirrored across all devices unless I specifically ask for it (as with Pushbullet). If it helps me resume tasks across devices (no matter which specific apps I’m using) and without locking me in to one way of working, I’ll probably love it…

  • Groud Frank

    I like this. I just hope it isn’t so web-centric that it requires an internet connection to do basic thing.

  • Goblin Shark

    It’s about time! I’ve been wondering for years why everything Google wasn’t more integrated on my phone.

  • Ian Huntly

    Just great, roll it on.

  • vnavacha

    the UI is so beautiful

  • ashley

    With more Chromium integration I really don’t like the way this is sounding. I don’t like the look. I prefer Firefox and Aviate. I definitely don’t like this sound of this.

  • I guess nobody noticed this. In the fiction series Percy Jackson and the Olympians, it’s the goddess Hera who reconciles the Greek and Roman camps. Now read the title of the post, you’ll understand. :)

  • Samsul Lazim

    Sounds like chrome os and android are beginning to come together.
    Also looks like their taking after some of paranoid androids ux
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