Product Design

Google Making Magic with Material Design

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material design graphic Google I/O 2014 has been the most exciting Google event yet for designers. Having designed apps for four major Android versions so far, I’ll be the first to say that Google has been… slow… to promote high-end design for its app ecosystem. With the announcement of what Google calls “Material Design,” Google is taking a firm stance on how designers should think about everything from watch app design (Android Wear) to Android handsets and tablets to Android TV.

What Google has to say about Material Design:

“Our material is grounded in tactile reality, inspired by our study of paper and ink, yet open to imagination and magic.”

For a company with its roots in search, where optimization and calculated engineering decisions have traditionally taken precedence over design and user experience, this is a bold, welcome statement. From what we’ve seen in Android L so far, it’s a huge step forward in enabling great visual designs in Android.

For example, there will be:

  • Improved drop shadow rendering, enabling a greater depth within each view. *Hint: developers will have a much easier time implementing your pesky drop shadows now.*
  • Dynamic new view transitions and element motion features, which will reduce the ‘jumpy’ transitions found in previous versions of Android, and allow designers to define control-enforcing motion caused by a user’s touch.
  • More stylized and organic than its robot-inspired holo predecessor, emphasizing big type, edge to edge images, and a clear vision hierarchy through properly used negative space.

There is much more articulated in the This is Material Design overview than these three improvements. Also check out Google’s new centralized design site for access to each design feature they are highlighting at I/O 14 (also, note the URL google.com/design, which further emphasizes my point about Google’s refreshing focus on UX).

While OS fragmentation will likely be a struggle with implementing new Android UX features, the WillowTree UX team can’t wait to see what “magic” we can create with Material in mind.

*the graphic at the top of this post is from Google

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