There are a number of projects going at full speed in our little office, one of which I’m not really supposed to talk about. It’s semi-secret hardware, and the boss probably wants to announce it first. Fair enough.

Fortunately, it’s totally cool for me to talk about the various bits of design that satellite and support that secret squirrel project… and last week was all about Android app icons. It was pretty fun, and it was also the perfect time to try out Sketch — a trim challenger to Adobe Illustrator that I’ve been itching to play with for a while.

This is not going to be a Sketch review, suffice to say that I found it straightforward, charming and only once turned back to Illustrator when I couldn’t figure out “the Sketch approach” to a problem in a hurry. I’m rather looking forward to trying out it out on my next full scale app UI job.

Okay, back to the icons.

Our users are younger children, so we tend to keep things simple, colourful and most of all fun.

I’ve stayed within our brand guidelines, and there’s a heavy dash of influence from Google’s Material Design spec — the combination of which means flat shapes, a limited colour palette, and a little depth (amongst other things.)

The XO figure is a key visual element, and a clear indication to our users that a product or application is important to our ecosystem. We make sure that it only shows up when needed in order to maintain that association of importance.

Credit: Dan Marshall for the original magnifying glass and head used here.

With the impending launch of our (kind of) secret hardware, we’re going to be releasing a number of new utility apps to support usage in school environments. Currently, the name of that upcoming project is based around “Infinity” — so I’ve been visually exploring the most infinite thing of all: space.

Not all of these will make the cut, but it’s fun to show the process.

When you bottom out the brightness on our current hardware the screen slips into a sunlight readable mode that resembles e-ink, and demands high contrast for optimum usability. This absolutely comes into consideration when the time for culling out options is nigh, and has the added bonus of forcing me to design for people who suffer colour vision deficiency.

Eventually, the team and I will need to settle on a chosen few — but for now… we’re just having fun exploring space (but maybe not as much fun as Elon Musk.)


Road to Infinity

Building the Infinity, a computer for any child.

    Paul Cotton

    Written by

    This guy.

    Road to Infinity

    Building the Infinity, a computer for any child.

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