The New Thing: Google’s Material Design

When Microsoft introduced its “flat” Metro interface for Windows 8, the response on the part of users, designers and the press was rather tepid. But then, when’s the last thing Microsoft did that got them any love? In contrast, when Apple jumped on the flat UI bandwagon with iOS 7 everyone got excited, praising it as a big leap forward. Go figure. This week it was Google’s turn, with it revealing what lies ahead for the interface of what is rather boringly dubbed Android L. This will benefit from the ideas expressed through the firm’s Material design language, as shown in the clip below, which has already been viewed viewed almost one million times. So you could say there’s some interest.

Yes, you’ll find echoes of both iOS and Windows but Material’s approach to animations, transitions and its use of depth would seem to move things forward. Part of the overall cohesiveness Material exhibits is no doubt due to Google’s need to provide consistency on everything from desktop apps, through mobile and on to a whole new generation of devices. Google puts it this way: “A material metaphor is the unifying theory of a rationalized space and a system of motion. Our material is grounded in tactile reality, inspired by our study of paper and ink, yet open to imagination and magic.”

So in comparison to Apple’s approach, Material seems to be more the definition of a set of suggested, yet open, standard practices. While much needed, these still leave considerable room to developers for interpretation and thus hopefully free us from an increasingly boring, cookie-cutter experience. More information is on the Google Design site.

text by: Chris Dickman
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