In this case study, we will delve into the version history and evolution of the Android Studio logo and how it has changed over the years.
- 2013: The original Android Studio logo was a 3D robot that highlighted the gears and interworking of the bugdroid. At this time, the Android Emulator was the bugdroid.
- 2014: The Android Emulator merged to a flat mark but remained otherwise unchanged.
- 2014–2019: An updated Android Studio logo was introduced featuring an “A” compass in front of a green circle.
- 2019: In Canary 3.6, the color palette was updated to match Android 10.
- 2020–2022: With the release of Android Studio 4.1 Canary, the “A” compass was reduced to an abstract form placed in front of a blueprint. The Android head was also added, peeking over the top.
When redesigning a logo, it’s important to consider brand elements that unify products within an ecosystem. For the Android Developer ecosystem, the “robot head” is a key brand element, alongside the primary Android green color. The secondary colors blue and navy, and tertiary colors like orange, can also be utilized for support.
- Iconography: use recognizable and appropriate symbols, such as compass “A” for Android Studio or a device for Android Emulator, to convey the purpose and functionality clearly and quickly.
- Enhance recognition and scalability: the Android Studio and Android Emulator should prioritize legibility and scalability, ensuring that they can be easily recognized and understood even at smaller sizes.
- Establish distinction: the Android Studio and Android Emulator need to be easily distinguishable, to avoid confusion.
- Maintain brand consistency: the Android Studio and Android Emulator designs should be consistent with the overall branding and visual identity of the Android family, while still being distinctive.
- Ensure accessibility: the logo should be accessible to all users, including those with visual impairments. This means using clear shapes, colors, and contrast.
- Follow OS guidelines: the updated application icon must align with the Android visual language and conform to the guidelines of macOS, Windows, and Linux operating systems, ensuring consistency and coherence across all platforms.
- Ensure versatility: the Android Studio logo should be versatile enough to work in a variety of sizes and contexts, such as on different devices and platforms.
Paper, pencil and pen sketching, markers, Adobe Illustrator and Figma.
It all started as a simple brief: redesign the Android Studio logo. We initiated our creative process by brainstorming objects and concepts that evoke a sense of software development — such as pencils, rulers, building blocks, construction sites, tape measures, compasses, and protractors.
We experimented with replacing the drawing compass with a ruler and tried various combinations of design elements. We even explored the idea of incorporating bricks, similar to building blocks, and playfully stacked the Android head, a ruler, and a pencil together, with a nod to the terminal prompt symbol ‘>’.
During the logo exploration phase, we examined different approaches to incorporating an “A” for Android into the design. One concept highlighted the precision of Android development tools through an “A” ruler, while another featured the original “A” compass from 2014.
Once we had generated a variety of logo concepts through sketching, we then proceeded to add the Android color palette to our designs. This was an important step to ensure that our new logo would not only stand out on its own but also maintain a strong visual connection with the wider Android Developer family branding.
To ensure clear differentiation between the redesigned Emulator and Android Studio, we explored the option of removing elements and reversing the colors of both marks, which would simplify their overall design and make them easier to recognize at a glance.
We aimed to enhance the distinctiveness, scalability, and iconography by carefully analyzing various design elements such as line weight, corner radius, and the placement of the Android head, to create a visually strong mark. We further simplified the design by eliminating all shadow effects and reorienting the emulator phone to an upright position, which improved recognition, scalability, and scannability. This heightened the visual differentiation between the two marks, making them more recognizable and visually distinct.
The redesigned Android Studio logo is a fresh take on the original design, featuring the Android head and the iconic A compass. The team initially considered keeping the simplified A used in the 2020- 2022, but ultimately decided that the simplified A was not strong enough of a mark to be the central symbol of the Android Studio brand. The compass’s handle and hinge have been reintroduced, while the legs of the compass have been sharpened to points, reflecting the meticulousness and precision that developers bring to their craft. Additionally, the adjustment angle radius has been reinstated, creating the crossbar necessary to form the letter A.
- Accessible: the logo uses secondary encoding with an outlined A for Canary and a solid A for Stable in addition to color. This makes it easier for users with color vision deficiencies to distinguish between the two application icons.
- Minimal and scalable: the blueprint drawing in the 2020–2022 was removed to create a minimalist design that is scalable and legible at smaller sizes. This makes it easier for low vision users to see.
- Ensuring recognition: the new logo’s central focus is the A compass, which incorporates elements from the original compass mark. This helps ensure that the application icon is recognizable to users, even at small sizes.
The Android Studio application icon consists of two unique shapes: a squircle, a square with slightly rounded corners commonly used in macOS applications, and a 13-pointed bottle cap, which is a shape derived from the Modern Android design system. Besides reflecting the design system, the 13-pointed bottle cap also serves as a delightful Easter egg 🥚, with 13 points specifically included to coincide with Android 13’s release. These two background shapes are used on desktop to adhere to OS guidelines, and to ensure that the application icon is legible and recognizable in both dark and light mode.
Android Studio has two application icons — one for the Canary version and one for the Stable release. The Canary application icon is a white outline on a dark blue background, representing a blueprint or prototype. The Android Studio Preview (Canary) version enables developers to experiment with new features that are still in development. The white outline of the A compass in Canary indicates that the features are not yet finalized and may change.
From 2014 to 2022, the Android Studio application icons featured different background colors, with yellow representing Canary and green (2014–2019) and white (2020–2022) representing Stable releases. However, the most recent redesign takes accessibility to a new level by going beyond the use of background colors alone to differentiate between Canary and Stable. The new design employs a secondary encoding method, featuring an outlined A for Canary and a solid A for Stable, in addition to color, to effectively convey meaning and make the application icons more accessible for users with color vision deficiencies.
The new Android Studio application icons also embody the spirit of software development, highlighting the transformation from a blueprint/prototype (Canary) to a fully designed and polished product (Stable). Drawing inspiration from the design language of the Canary and Stable Splash Screens, the Android Studio Canary and Stable icons visually reinforce the progression of the developer’s journey from the blueprint and ideation stages to execution.
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