Finally I Can Breathe

How Digital Product Design is finally catching up with Dieter Rams

Google recently released their latest version of the Google Play Music app for iOS. With this release comes the introduction of Google’s Material Design framework.

Overall the app is a very good effort. Everything is clear and easy to understand. Careful attention has been paid to transitions and the way elements interact with each other. But where the app (and Material Design) comes into it’s own is the track listing on an album.

The new Google Play Music album track listing

It’s a genuine pleasure to use.

The white space makes it alot easier to scan the tracks but no essential information is dropped to achieve this. It also improves usability for those whose fingers aren’t pencil thin as there’s plenty of space to ensure you hit the track you intended to.

So why is it so good?

Dieter Rams’ 10th design principal “Good Design Is as Little Design as Possible” is cited quite often but it is rarely taken to heart. Google have started to take it to heart with the principles of Material Design and it’s like a breath of fresh air in a world of claustrophobic typography.

A world of claustrophobic typography you say?

Up until the last few years, Google products were famously poorly designed. Sure, they were useful, but they weren’t a pleasure to use. We used them because they were so useful.

That’s not the case for other companies though. Apple and Spotify are lauded for great design. In fact these companies occasionally go so far as to publish videos (Apple, Spotify) on how much care they take when crafting their products.

So how do their attempts at the exact same experience match up?

“Good Design Is as Little Design as Possible”
Here are the 3 designs of the same experience side by side.

Now I get why some may struggle to embrace this philosophy of simplicity in the design of their products. For most, complexity and features feel like progress or the result of various business decisions.

To keep things simple you need to maintain focus and stay honest to the purpose of your product.

In conclusion

The design changes in the new Google Play Music app left me considering a move away from Spotify, because the new app is so much nicer to use.
I actually feel more relaxed when using it.

I hope in the future all my apps let me relax.
I hope in the future all apps let me breathe.