Material Design

Google is launching a new design language at today’s I/O, but the spec sheet has already been posted online. They’re referring to this as “Material Design”, and it’s an evolution of their existing “white cards” style that you’ve probably seen across their main app portfolio. Google wants you to think of it like “active paper”.

This is a language that’s defined by typography, grids, and animation. The type is still all Roboto all the time, but it has been updated — it now has a bunch of different weights and, best of all, it loses the Helvetica ripoff leg on the R. The grids are just as essential to making things look strong when the interface is so sparse.

The animations in Material are huge for Android. It’s a platform that has felt sometimes static, and other times like the animations are entirely arbitrary. The guide Google has provided should encourage developers to make meaningful, high-quality animations between elements and screens. Combine that with dynamically-rendered lighting, and you can bet this is going to feel like a much higher quality platform.

It’s refreshing to see this focus on a consistent interface design from Google. It’s a little odd to see them want to make it entirely consistent — they claim that this design language works universally on every device from phones to desktop web UIs. They’re also claiming that the animations that are integral to this design language will run at sixty frames-per-second, even on the web. That’s impressive.

I’m looking forward to seeing the products of this design language in practice. Like iOS 7, this is one of those interfaces that, I bet, must be seen and used in person to really understand. Good stuff.