Another recent positive development is the quality of Google's own apps. I've been hoping for long time that Google would only release high quality and well designed apps and act as an example to everyone else. I think that change is finally happening.
I wrote about "Visual appeal of Android apps" also back in April.
The new Android Market design is both functional and visually good. I've written posts related to the new Android Market before (Elsewhere in the web - Pushing Pixels, How to tell users that more content is available - ie. indicating horizontal swipe, UI design patterns in Google+ and Android Market)
Google Music Beta
Google's Music app follows UI patterns and is very easy to use. It is also visually appealing. The changing background colors and translucent action bar are nice ideas and fit into a music app perfectly. Google designers' and engineers' attention to details is admirable in this case. Kudos.
Design of the Buildings app is very impressive. The app has feel of Android app and it uses Android UI patterns. Everything from icons to the fine background gradients are beautiful.
The app is also available on iOS (iTunes link). Comparing screenshots of both versions shows that the Android version is by far superior on it's design and also that the app team has done a great job translating their iOS design into Android platform.
An additional mention has to be made to the excellent way the app handles login or more specifically lack of forced login. When users first open the app they see the following screen. It clearly explains what users gain by registering but also lets users try the app without having to do it. Superb work!
I generally oppose redesigning the whole widget toolkit for an app as it creates inconsistency and possible stability and usability problems. In case of Paper Camera I make an exception. Style of the app perfectly matches the content. Very nicely done!
Just in six short months the quality of an average Android app has risen tremendously. Arguably we're still behind the iOS app quality but nobody can deny that the difference is getting smaller really fast. This is a change I'm very happy to see.