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.
A while ago, we posted about explorations Google was undertaking in revamping Android's home screen. Part of this was a new notification shade that looked similar to Google Now.
Since then, we've seen new materials that show something a bit closer to what the notification shade and Quick Settings will resemble in Android's L release. The images we'll discuss in this post are based on more recent information, but as with any unreleased software, anything can change - particularly design.
Yesterday we brought attention to an issue with Motorola's international devices wherein the carrier ID would be displayed in the status bar all the time, making the notification area almost useless in many circumstances. Well, Motorola VP Punit Soni happened to notice the post and chimed in with an update – it turns out Motorola is rolling out a fix in 4.4.3.
The Moto G has been a big seller for Motorola, and the device has seen pretty much universal praise from owners. However, the international version of the device (as well as the Moto X and Moto E) has an odd interface quirk that's driving some users up a wall. The carrier name sits on the left side of the status bar all the time, essentially making the notification area useless for anyone whose carrier has a name longer than a few characters.
A while ago, we posted about information we'd received indicating that sometime soon, Google's search functionality (and other actions) would be expanding beyond the Search app, moving into other apps for device-wide search interaction and - eventually - app-specific functionality.
It appears that isn't the only Search trick Google is working on, though. According to the information available to us, Google is working on functionality for now known as KITT (get it?) or "Android Eyes Free" internally.
Several days ago, it was brought to our attention that Google's Search app finally allowed completely touchless reminders, whereby a user could set a reminder from start to finish without touching the device. Previously, reminders required a touch confirmation at the end of the process. Now, the "voice of Google" simply asks if the user would like the reminder to be set. Saying "yes" will complete the interaction.
It seems this isn't the only server-side switch Google is pulling, though.
During CES this year, Google and NVIDIA announced partnership with GM, Honda, Audi, and Hyundai in forming the Open Automotive Alliance. The initial announcement was predictably sparse on details, noting only the initiative's core principles, and the goal of bringing Android to cars. After hearing approximately nothing about the effort since then, we now have information that gives us a first look at Google's vision for Android in the Car, referred to internally as Gearhead.
Gmail just got an update to version 4.8, an update that brings with it some refreshing UI changes, and a few other features too. First, we'll take a look at the UI tweaks.
First up, the pull-to-refresh animation has been brought into line with the Google Search app - it now cycles through Google's red, yellow, blue, and green brand colors rather than using a simple blue animation. The length of swipe necessary to trigger a refresh has also been shortened.
As promised, the companion app to Google Glass, MyGlass, got a big update today. The bump from version 2.2 to 3.0 allows for sharing from Maps directly to Glass, but is otherwise purely aesthetic. Users will enjoy a slick new interface centered around a slide-out menu, which breaks out the Glassware Gallery, your active glassware, device info, and selected contacts into separate views.
This arrangement is infinitely more friendly than the previous interface, and glassware is now displayed more richly, with example screenshots in each listing along with a brief description and rundown of permissions.
We've recently seen plenty of rumors related to Google's future plans for its Search app, from automatically remembering where you parked to reminding you of things when you're with another person, to reminding you to pay bills, down to something as simple as setting a proper timer. Clearly, Google's got plenty of plans for what will happen inside Search. But today, we've got something a little different - this time, it relates to how Google's voice assistant will break out of Search, entering other Google apps to help you do more with your voice and perform more actions with Search in general.