Gowalla 3 for Android: pixels at work

March 23rd, 2011

A couple of weeks ago i posted a few screenshots of Gowalla 3 app for the Android platform, and today i want to take a closer look at the great work done by Drew Yeaton (designer, @xeeton) and Philip McAllister (developer, @mcalliph).

This screenshot illustrates the omnipresent header section. It starts with the thin rainbow strip that reinforces the web branding, transitioning into a combination of action bar and tab strip. Note how the single-pixel light gray separator just below the rainbow strip helps the transition from a full-color area into the predominantly monochrome section. Thin vertical icon lines fade away at the ends, providing just enough separation without too much visual noise. The icons themselves have a light halo offset one pixel to the bottom – this effect is mirrored on the text of selected tab. Together with the thin separator line mentioned above this establishes a consistent lighting model.

The selected tab has a nice subdued gradient that smoothly fades its fill into the action bar, with gradually darkening colors as it nears its bottom edge. Here, the design follows the same approach as taken by Safari 4.0 and Firefox 4.0 – both blend the currently selected tab into the address bar: Firefox downward and Safari upward. This is the right decision to make – while the header remains anchored to the top edge of the screen, the content is scrolled vertically below the tab strip; blending the selected tab into the content would have broken the visual continuity on both ends.

This screenshot shows the styling of pressed tabs. A pressed tab (bookmarks in this case) uses the same curvy contour as the selected one, with much darker gradient and the same color “flip” of the tab text.

And here you can see the styling of a pressed action bar button. Note how the gradient fill extends to the vertical separators on both sides (with some fuzziness along the right edge), with a much darker line along the top edge and a fade away towards the bottom. On a related note, the current version of the app does not show any visual indication of focus traversal making it rather hard to navigate the app with a nav ball, d-pad or any other navigation method.

As the information is loaded, the rightmost icon shows a spinning progress indicator. This follows the convention set by modern browsers that combine the opposite-state buttons to save valuable space while still providing visual indication of a running task.

Some pages show a button bar anchored to the bottom edge of the screen. Here, the main call-to-action button uses a strong orange fill, while still maintaining the global lighting model. Note how the button text has a darker shadow offset one pixel to the top. It also looks like the much darker gray color of the button bar background makes the outer dark orange line look fuzzy – this can be addressed, perhaps, by tweaking the colors used for the outer and inner contour along the bottom few pixels.

The button bar does not scroll away with the content. It looks like the designers were aware of the precious vertical space taken by this container, and decided to make its background partially translucent. While this may slightly help in “discovering” the scrollability of the main content, i’m looking forward to see the landscape-optimized layout of screens that currently show three static bars.

And finally here is a full-size screenshot that shows all the elements together – from the selected action bar button mirrored in a small seaglass overlay next to the location name to the drop shadows around the thumbnails, from the styling of “people” / “checkins” buttons to make them appear as part of the same button strip to the precise content alignment in the location summary section – to all the static navigation elements mentioned above.