Skip to content

Google Switches to Native on iOS

MacRumors reported that Google’s design chief for Apple platforms, Jeff Verkoeyen, announced that Google is switching from using a lot of custom controls in its iOS apps such as Gmail, Google Maps, Google Photos, YouTube and others, to using Apple’s native user interface controls. The purpose of using their own controls was to provide a user experience that was unified between desktop, web and mobile. Some Google users complained (unsurprisingly) that using Google’s apps on iOS was a jarring experience compared to the rest of iOS.

Google is making the right move here. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the paramount issue is that the user interface is consistent with other user interface experiences the user is likely to have on this same device. You only get that if you use native user interface controls. That’s why Xojo has always provided native user interface controls, high-level access to native system functionality and compiled to native code. Native provides the best experience for the end user which is what matters most. With most development tools, doing so requires a lot of extra work for the developers but reducing that should never come at the expense of a poor user experience. Fortunately, developers don’t have to make that sacrifice with Xojo.

Creating the best user experience extends beyond native controls. Developers must also look at what the customary design and behaviors of apps are on the target OS. Native controls help quite a bit with this but developers still must be vigilant and dedicated to avoid degrading the user experience.

I applaud Jeff Verkoeyen for making this difficult but correct choice. While there are a few categories of apps where custom user interface makes sense (games, kiosk apps), for all others, native is the best choice for creating the best user experience.