Just this past week some of Google's apps started to appear post update with an all new splash screen showing off the Google logo as well as the app's icon over a blank white page during the short loading process. This has happened in more than a couple of apps that belong to Google and can be found within Docs, Sheets, and even YouTube. The interesting thing pointed out here by Ewan Spence of Forbes is that this is a particular detail in which Google had discouraged in the past, instead suggesting that developers focus on giving users a quick experience that involves them getting to the app as fast as possible after tapping on the icon to open them. Google hasn't just gone ahead and updated its apps with a practice it once thought of as something to stay away from, it also updated the design guidelines for apps to now state that developers should take the time to introduce "branded launch screens" to make use of the time it takes for apps to load, which isn't much, but enough time to flash a logo and an icon.
This move is almost certainly about brand presence and reminding consumers that they hold in their hands a Google-branded product, something which they already do on all future devices and most current devices with the "powered by Android" boot up screen when users turn on their device. The reason for this change in apps is suggested to be a decision made to try and grab "mind share" of users in a bid to defend against Microsoft in the cloud space. Microsoft over the past year has been doubling their efforts to make more and more of their cloud-based software available on Android with apps like Office, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. With Google's own apps having had most of the attention up until Microsoft made these apps available to Android users, there has been no need to remind users who the apps come from, even though they're basically Google's version of what Microsoft has been offering for years on desktops and their own Windows handsets.
Increased competition from Microsoft however is almost seemingly forcing Google to make a move in which may help keep users from becoming confused with which products and services they're using. It might seem unlikely, but it's actually rather quite easy for users to get Google Sheets and Microsoft's excel app on Android confused as they generally serve the same purpose. Not all users will make this mistake mind you, but there are certainly users out there who may not know the difference. This new use of splash screens in apps with the Google logo and the app's icon can help to re-educate users just what they're interacting with and who made it, which is precisely the point. Microsoft isn't the only company pushing cloud-based services and apps on Android either, which gives Google more competition and more of a reason to make attempts at being the first brand thought of by users.