If you follow developer Jack Underwood (or myself) on Google+, you're probably aware that Today Calendar, a calendar replacement that has traditionally put streamlined, pleasing design at the center of its mission, is undergoing a full redesign in anticipation of Android's L release and inspired by Google's new design guidelines.
Until now, testing has been limited to a small community of intrepid early adopters, but today the app has entered a public beta through the Play Store.
Releasing the L preview was an important leap forward for Android as an ecosystem, but, outside of a single almost meaningless update, we're probably not going to see any new builds up until the final L release. I can sort of see why the Android team doesn't want to put out builds with incremental fixes, saving all the improvements for a grand finale unveiling, so in the meantime, any glimpse at their progress is very interesting to us as well as developers working on porting their apps to adhere to the new Material Design guidelines.
As with Holo before it, Material Design has triggered a deluge of app concepts, mockups, and fancy animations from various enthusiasts and designers in the community (myself included). A key factor that is often left out of these presentations, however, is a detailed and thoughtful explanation of design choices and UI considerations that went into the finished product.
As a designer, explanations of your design thinking are critical when presenting new designs, not just to those that would actually be building the app (they need to know the details), but to a broader audience of end users and even other designers.
Gecko Design Inc. is the kind of company others look to when they have ideas that they want to turn into physical products. Google is the kind that has said ideas, and it started working with the folks at Gecko in 2013. The two hit it off so well that they started discussing the possibility of taking their relationship to the next level, and the rest, they say, is history. The tech giant will use its newly acquired talent to boost up its Google X research lab.
Google I/O was pretty amazing this year, right? We got the deets on Material design, a preview version of Android L, the formal release of Android Wear, the first manifestations of Android TV and Android Auto, and plenty of other bits and pieces. However, all of that content and all of those developer sessions can take forever to absorb, and professional developers just don't have time for that. Now that all of the videos have been posted, I've combed through every last one to narrow the list down to just the sessions that absolutely can't be missed.
When we first wrote about Quantum Paper (the internal name for the material in Material Design), we noted that Google was anticipating a series of updates to its own apps between the introduction and completion of the new design direction - updates which would bring the apps a bit closer to the new design style in a progressive fashion, so that the apps wouldn't undergo fundamental transformations overnight.
Looking back, it is now obvious that Google+ was our first taste of material design, followed by Google's editing apps like docs and sheets.
Back in KitKat, we were introduced to translucent system bars, which gave app developers the ability to make the navigation and status bars semi-transparent. Reclaiming as much of the screen as possible became an obsession for many fans as they demanded their favorite apps go "full bleed." With Android L, Google is treating us to even more flexibility by allowing developers to set their own color for the status bar, or even turning it completely transparent.
Google didn't spend enough time on Material Design during the keynote. We saw a beautiful video and learned a little bit about the intent and thought behind Google's new cross-platform look (which we actually saw a bit earlier than anticipated), but there's so much more to be said. Having attended as many design sessions as possible during I/O, I think it's worth taking a somewhat closer look at Material Design. In this post we'll attempt to scratch a little bit deeper into what Material means, why it's awesome, and why it's a forward-looking move for Google.
Take a gander at the video below, ladies and gents - it was just posted to the Google Developers YouTube account. "Material Design" doesn't feature any context, but anyone who's kept up with the leaks here at Android Police will probably notice some familiar design elements.
At the end of the video is a link to Google.com/design, which gives notes and suggestions on Google's new direction for both web and mobile visual design.
Those little pictographic symbols on your keyboard are about to get much more expansive now that Unicode 7.0 has been released. Yes, the designers of emoji don't just come up with this stuff on their own – they are part of the text presentation standards that keeps letters consistent across platforms. Included in the new emoji are gems like a thermometer, a chipmunk, a middle finger, and a diesel locomotive...