Google has a lot invested in its Android platform, and regularly finds new ways to help its developer community. The latest offering is a much needed one. Google launched an Android style guide in an effort to improve Android app design and user interfaces. The new style guide is actually a website, with step-by-step instructions and documentation for the development and publication of apps. There’s suggestions on how to utilize images, and other recommendations on engaging the end user.

The style guide comes weeks after Android launched a training program for developers, a set of online classes to encourage better apps. Google’s become increasingly focused on design since the launch of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which revamped the end user experience from the home screen to the notifications bar. Appealing to the developer community is a necessary step in promoting good design across Android’s ecosystem, and it’s important that Google continues to provide as many resources as possible.

Android and its partners compete with Apple’s cloud strategy

Google and its partners are finding more ways to compete with Apple, a brand that’s set the tone for smartphone design. From software integration to the user interface, Apple’s R&D is notoriously particular about what the end user experiences. It’s created a level of familiarity for iOS devices, and will help Apple to introduce more services as their devices better connect to each other and the cloud. This holistic approach to consumer electronics is what’s helping Apple to hold its own in a world now dominated by Android’s OS, as OEMs set out to create their own unified user experience.

Samsung and Sony are two of the most proactive companies when it comes to design and integrated services, both touting their own software platforms on Android devices, and both known for swapping Android’s default designs for their own. This year’s CES really demonstrated how OEMs are chasing Apple with their cloud strategies. Acer and Lenovo are laying out a broadened range of applications and services, including the AcerCloud for hosting documents and files and making them accessible on smartphones, tablets, PCs and TVs. Several Android partners are filling the software gaps with consumer services, and this will be an important transition over the next two years as mobile devices gain functionality and prevalence.

While OEMs are busy stuffing software into every corner of their Android devices, Google itself is leveraging its ecosystem to promote its own services. Google already has cloud services and integrated software to challenge Apple, as both companies seek true brand loyalty through personal media management and not the devices themselves. This is why design plays such an important role in mobility, as it helps to unify the user experience across varied devices and services within a given ecosystem.