Google may use flat design for Android 4.5 app icons

In today's open source roundup: Android 4.5 app icons may get flat design makeover. Plus: Run Windows XP in VirtualBox in Linux Mint, and the Steam Controller learning curve may be steep

Flatter is better seems to be the new icon design mantra among many technology companies including Microsoft, Apple, and now apparently Google. Android Police reports that Android's app icons may get a flat makeover in Android 4.5. Note that this is a rumor right now and has not been confirmed by Google.

According to Android Police:

The rumor, if you haven't guessed it already, is that Google will be changing the style of its launcher icons for Android apps to more closely resemble those of its web properties. This new style, internally referred to as "Moonshine" would see Android icons take on a somewhat flatter appearance, with long, hard shadows behind prominent elements, reminiscent of what can be seen in Google's existing visual asset guidelines (see them on Behance).

If the rumor pans out, Google's Android icons are going to get a makeover. Whether these are the icons' final forms is impossible to say at the moment, but it would be interesting to see a flatter aesthetic take hold, more in line with the simplified, distilled nature of Google's current web icons. It will also be interesting to see what changes this brings to existing guidelines. Here's hoping that - whenever the change occurs - we'll get some sort of consistency.

More at Android Police
Android 4.5 Flat App Icons
Image credit: Android Police

Am I the only one that doesn't really care for the whole flat-is-better design craze? It seems like it started with Microsoft, then migrated to Apple's products and now even Google is jumping on the bandwagon. Ugh. I guess we're stuck with it until sentiment shifts back the other way and we get richer, more detailed icons again in ten years or whenever.

Windows XP and VirtualBox in Linux Mint

ZDNet has some advice about how to run Windows XP in Linux Mint via VirtualBox.

According to ZDNet:

What all this means is that with VirtualBox you run all your XP applications on your Linux system with little fuss or muss. Just be wary of any XP programs that require network access, since that's the way the hackers will be trying to get to your virtual XP system just as if were running normally on a PC.

Is it worth doing? I think so. By keeping XP on a VM, instead of running constantly on a PC, you'll be more conscious of running it rather than falling into the dangerous habit of running XP like there will still be patches coming. By running XP in a VM only when you must for special applications, you can start breaking yourself of the dangerous XP habit. Over time, you'll find yourself running more and more of your day-to-day work on Linux, and eventually you can give up Windows once and for all.

More at ZDNet
Run Windows XP in VirtualBox in Linux Mint
Image credit: ZDNet

VirtualBox is a great tool, but at some point I think Windows XP users are just going to have to let that operating system go and move on. How many more years can people cling to something that is so outdated and that has been discontinued by Microsoft?

Steam Controller learning curve might be steep for some gamers

The Tech Report shares some thoughts about the learning curve of the Steam Controller.

According to The Tech Report:

After getting myself killed a few times, I put down the controller and spoke with the Valve guy. Was I just uncommonly clumsy, I asked, or was the learning curve really so steep? To my surprise, he said it personally took him eight hours to get fully acquainted with the Steam controller. The learning process does vary from user to user, he added, and faster learners can apparently pull off the same feat in only 15 minutes. But based on my own experience, that probably requires some uncanny dexterity.

Even 15 minutes is a long time, though, especially for someone who's used to instant familiarity with mice, keyboards, and conventional gamepads. A quick brush with a Steam machine at a store, a friend's house, or some other venue might easily discourage a future purchase. If we're looking at eight hours of learning time for a Valve employee, I worry that some folks will spend much longer wrestling with the thing. For a brand-new platform whose success will hinge on broad adoption, that's not a good thing.

More at The Tech Report
Steam Controller Learning Curve
Image credit: The Tech Report

I'm surprised at the comment from the Valve employee, eight hours seems like a long time to learn to properly use a game controller. But then again, everybody is different. So others might learn how to use it much more quickly.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.

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