While few will probably contest the technical capabilities of Android, the platform and its apps has traditionally been criticized for its less than pleasant aesthetics. That all changed in the era of Material Design and now Google is taking it one step further. It has just acquired Pixate and its prototyping software of the same name. This adds a new tool to Google’s belt of design and development apps and services that make creating mobile apps less of a chore and more of a joy.
Anyone who has tried to make a well-designed mobile app will tell you that writing a functional app is one thing and designing a usable one is another story. Part of that difficulty is the process of bridging the gap between the desktops and laptops we develop on and the mobile devices they will run on. Translating mockups on PCs into actual interactive screens on smartphones isn’t simple task. Luckily, prototyping software like Pixate exist to bridge that divide.
Like any design prototyping tool, Pixate lets you whip up your desired design on your computer, but the look and feel as well as the app’s behavior and animations. The journey, however, doesn’t end there. The prototypes created are “100% native app prototypes”, meaning that they can be run on Android and even iOS devices natively so that you can immediately test if the interaction you had in mind actually works. All of these without writing a single line of code.
With Google’s purchase of Pixate, the Pixate Studio, the software you use to design the prototypes, is now available to anyone free of charge. To view Pixate prototypes, you’ll still need the appropriate Android or iOS app. Pixate’s cloud storage and collaboration platform also takes center stage, as it becomes the sole place where prototypes are created, making it easier to send it around to teammates or clients.
In addition to Pixate, Google also announced version 1.3 of Form. Form is also a design prototyping tool but one that is exclusive to iOS devices. This latest version adds Material Design components so that, even on an iPhone or iPad, you can bring Google’s new design language with you.