Last year we talked a lot about how excited we were for Android’s new version, then simply referred to as Android L
Back then, Google released L several months early to intrepid developers around the globe, before finally launching it to the world as Android Lollipop. The changes made with Material design were radical, but they’ve been taken very well in the wider Android world. A good indication of this is the growing up take of the ‘stock’ look and feel by third party developers.
While Android has been widely used by manufacturers such as HTC, Samsung and Sony that usually came with some heavy UI modifications. These days, you’re likely to see these phones sporting versions that are much more closely tied to Android’s new design guidelines, and it’s to the benefit of users and the platform alike that we finally have something consistent in the Android world.
Frankly, it’s about time Google started experimenting with this little thing called ‘consistency’. As anyone who’s used Google’s range of offerings will well know, Google have been unable to stick to a design philosophy for years, now, and even if something did roll out fairly widely, you could bet it was changed wholesale in a year or two. Material design feels different. As well as uniting the Phone, Tablet and ‘Auto’ platforms, you can now also see Material cropping up in Google Inbox, Drive, Docs and Calendar. It feels like Google have struck on something great, and they know it.
In fairness, Android is one of the areas Google has previously been very good at sticking to a design principle for a good while
It’s in that spirit, then, that Android M previewed at this year’s I/O event. As with last year, a developer preview has been released to anyone with a bit of knowledge to try out, and what’s striking is the heavily iterative nature of the release. Material design is present and correct, with some much needed tweaks, and the list of new features will do little to blow your socks off, but it’s obvious when using it on a day to day basis that everything just feels and works better.
In fairness, Android is one of the areas Google has previously been very good at sticking to a design principle for a good while. The era of Android that started with 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and ended with 4.4 (KitKat) iterated on the old Holo design well, and pushed it to the very limits right until the end of its life. But it feels with Material there’s a true, root and branch re imagining of Android that will have a much longer legacy – it’s built to be scaled to different devices and is so much closer to perfect than other operating systems that even the slightest improvement feels significant.
Android M is looking to be a triumph in evolution over revolution, and when Google are acting this confident about their platform, you can see good things in the future as the proliferation of disparate Android devices are being drawn closer and closer together, all under the colourful umbrella of Material Design.
At demoMedia we’re currently in a research and development stage of our new mobile app line, and the Android M Developer Build has got us all very excited to dig in and create some prototypes using the latest version of the operating system.
With our design team constantly busy with a million other things, Android M’s more confident and well defined design principles allow our colour-blind developers to create beautiful and fully formed prototypes, which will be a huge advantage as we push forward in our new era of mobile development.