Google prepping 'Quantum Paper' UI for multiple platforms, report says

Rumored 'Quantum Paper' will unify the look of Android, iOS, and Web properties, and be available to third-party developers

Google is preparing to introduce a new design framework for its products, not just as they appear on the Web and in Android, but in iOS as well, according to a report in Android Police.

"Quantum Paper" is reportedly the name of Google's design framework, aimed at making Google products look, act, and interact as consistently as possible across platforms: native mobile, mobile Web, and desktop Web.

Most interesting, it's not intended to be just a Google project or confined to Android. Quantum Paper is apparently being designed as a toolkit that third-party Android developers can reuse; it will be implemented in iOS as well.

One comparison, in terms of how Google wants to use the framework as the basis for a set of apps that looks and behaves consistently, is to the Metro design language used in Windows 8. But a better analogy might be Web UI frameworks like Bootstrap, in which a designer makes free use of a set of components -- a layout grid and widget set -- that saves time and provides a high degree of consistency for the user.

According to Forrester analyst Jeffrey Hammond, "This looks like a next generation of implementing Web standards to provide consistent look and feel across Chrome views, essentially turning the rendering engine of the Chrome browser into a consistent, embeddable component across multiple devices. It's similar to what we see which Apache Cordova today, but with a significantly enhance developer's framework -- maybe an extension of the thought behind Angular."

Some of the groundwork for Quantum Paper was apparently laid in Polymer, Google's project to create a set of consistent HTML design elements that can be reused across both desktop and mobile devices. Hints of the elements that comprise Quantum Paper have been dribbling out via revamped versions of existing Google apps such as Google+ or Gmail.

The Android Police article provokes as many questions as it purports to answer. It isn't clear, for instance, if Google will offer its iOS toolkit to third parties or if it will keep that in-house to encourage developers to build Android and Web apps rather than for iOS.

Another question is how much of Quantum Paper in Android will be built with native Android UI functionality and how much will be implemented as HTML instead. Android Police has reported separately about Project Hera, another Google initiative to allow apps to use an instance of Chromium to run Web-based tasks, and to give those tasks a consistent interface. Hera might turn out to be one of the key examples for how to implement the HTML versions of Quantum Paper functionality in Android.

The biggest question mark of all, of course, is when will we see something official from Android. The authors of the article believe further details about Quantum Paper will coincide with the release of Android's "L" version, along with a separate design spec. That could happen as early as Google's I/O conference later this month -- but only Google will say for sure.

This story, "Google prepping 'Quantum Paper' UI for multiple platforms," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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