Google will stop trying to make its iOS apps look like Android apps

The change will help Google save time on development.

Thomas Trutschel via Getty Images

Google says it will phase out its use of Material Design interface elements within its iOS apps in favor of Apple’s own UIKit. Jeff Verkoeyen, the company's iOS design chief, announced the change in a Twitter thread spotted by The Verge.

Introduced in 2014, Material Design is Google’s in-house design language. The company has used it to unify the look and feel of its apps and services across various platforms. According to Verkoeyen, Google shifted its open source iOS Material component libraries into maintenance mode earlier this year after it conducted a “deep evaluation” of what it means to build a “hallmark” Google experience on iOS. What it found was that many of the custom elements it started building nearly a decade ago to fill gaps in UIKit’s design language are no longer necessary.

“With the introduction of SwiftUI and significant UIKit improvements in iOS 14+, it’s never been easier to build a great branded experience with a tiny amount of code,” Verkoeyen said.

With the shift to UIKit, Verkoeyen expects his team will spend less time building custom code, which should hopefully lead to faster and more frequent releases. Additionally, the use of UIKit should allow the company to more tightly integrate its software into iOS. However, those benefits may pale in comparison to the fact the company’s apps may end up looking more at home on Apple devices.