Google pledges to make its iPhone and iPad apps good platform citizens on iOS

Google’s iOS apps will drop custom user interface elements and Material Design styling on iPhone and iPad to make them look and feel like proper apps on Apple’s platforms.


  • Google is dropping its Material Design styling on iOS
  • Instead, these apps will fully adopt Apple’s UIKit system
  • This will result in Google apps feeling more native on iOS

Google logo with Material Design styling

Google is dropping Material Design on iOS

For years now, Google would go the extra mile in order to make its iPhone and iPad apps look like their Android counterparts. Some people wouldn’t even download Google apps because they seemed and acted so foreign on the iOS platform. But that’s about to change as Google has now pledged to make its iOS apps look and feel more native on Apple’s platforms.

Jeff Verkoeyen, who leads Google’s design efforts on Apple platforms, said on Twitter that his team had been contemplating “what it means to build a hallmark Google experience on Apple platforms.” Google’s own apps have traditionally used the company’s Material Design guidelines to unify software designs across desktop, mobile and the web.

The approach has resulted in Android-ification of Google’s experience on iOS as the vast majority of the company’s apps such as Gmail, YouTube, Search, Drive and Photos now look like Android apps on iOS. But after ten years, Google’s iOS team has decided that UIKIt, Apple’s software framework for building interfaces in iPhone and iPad apps, has matured enough.

In fact, as Verkoeyen writes, UIKit now enables much tighter integrations with iOS than what Google can reasonably achieve via custom solutions like Material Design. Read: How to use Google Photos instead of iCloud Photos

Why Google is making a switch to Apple’s UIKit

Verkoeyen explains:

But as we continued on the pursuit of cross-platform pixel parity, our iOS components were slowly drifting further and further from Apple platform fundamentals because those fundaments were also evolving year over year.

Verkoeyen says his team will be combining the best of UIKit with the best of Google’s design language. As a result, the company will update its iPhone and iPad apps with standard iOS user interface elements for things like bars, controls, lists, menus and more.

“Simplification, while still affording distinction where it matters,” he says. Unfortunately, he didn’t share more concrete examples like before and after the design changes.

Google is also hiring designers to join its Apple development team.