As the flat design trend keeps on being implemented everywhere around us, the designers at Google are busy implementing it in all of their products. Anyone who is using and keeping track of Google’s products can tell that all products are making use of their design language called Material Design. From the 5th version of Android that is called Lollipop, we can see that Material Design is used in their mobile operating system.
Google owns a lot of (digital) products and they are getting design updates separately. With a new complete design language all products will be more coherent. Google had a goal in sight before they started creating their new design language. They wanted to design a visual language that uses classic principles of good design and implement it on a technological level. With the new Material Design they wanted to implement a newer (flatter) design language, but wanted to make the design elements act and move as real existing elements.
The most noticeable change in Lollipop is the implementation of Material Design. Coming from a previous version of Android, you’ll definitely notice that almost everything how Android looked like, has been changed or improved. Every element has lost their gradients and bevels but they are making use of shadows in a more natural way. Where the use of colours in the previous versions were more childish, Lollipop is making use of brighter colours. They changed the background from black to white, so the whole design looks more fresh and aesthetic. Typography has been made bigger but thinner.
Minimal and aesthetic first screens
More white backgrounds throughout the system
Material Design Color Styles
One of the commonly used elements of the system, the soft keys have been changed as well. The buttons have become more clean and symmetric. The new ‘Playstation-inspired’ icons are bringing more rest into the whole design.
Above the old soft keys, below Lollipop’s soft keys
We have seen Material Design being implemented in several products, but the way Android 5.0 has been designed is one of the biggest changes Google has made in their products lately. Because Android always had given us the feeling that the design is still in ‘beta’, the design change feels like such a big improvement. With the complete re-design and implementation of Material Design we aren’t sure that Apple is on top the ‘design-game’ anymore.
Interactions and animations
The behaviour of Android hasn’t been changed completely. Previous Android users need to be familiar with the new design and adapt it naturally. Therefore, the design has ‘just’ changed visually and most of the (interactive) elements are placed and composed the same way as in the previous Android versions.
The way users interact with Android hasn’t changed a lot as well, Lollipop only reacts in another way. During almost any interaction anywhere in the operating system, the user will receive feedback somehow. Until Android 5.0 scrolling down to the end of a list was indicated with sort of a blue light. In order with implementing the ‘flattened’ Material Design, Lollipop now reacts with a solid grey rounded feedback element. Tapping on a list-item will result in a shading on the screen that radiates outwards.
Different ways of giving feedback in Android Lollipop
Besides the visible feedback elements, Lollipop gives other feedback in subtle ways. For instance: a zooming effect when you swipe to unlock the screen and sliding animation when you swipe down from the top of the display to view notifications. The fact that Android hasn’t just taken care of the big picture, but small interactive elements as well, gives us the idea that Android has stepped out of the design beta-phase and is finally offering a complete operating service.
Cards & Notifications
Another design element that is often been used by Google are cards. Different kind information are displayed in an own card and placed on top of other cards or other elements. They were first introduced in Google Now, but seems to be implemented in the new design language. A perfect example is Multitasking, all the currently running apps are displayed in a single card. The cards are laying on top of each other and the card / app laying on top is the last one opened.
Android has always been ahead of their competition with displaying the notifications. An simple dropdown menu with an overview of all notifications which has been implemented in iOS by Apple afterwards. With cards Android is showing them in the lock screen as well. A iOS-like way of displaying notifications.
Cards are implemented throughout the complete system
Lollipop vs. iOS 8
As mentioned earlier, iOS ‘re-uses’ elements of Android and the other way around. That is no secret, but both operating systems are implementing it in their own way. The same thing we may say about flat design, both operating systems are using and implementing the flat design trend in their designs but in their own way.
Left Lollipop’s homescreen. On the right iOS 8
Left Lollipop’s card while multitasking. On the right iOS 8’s multitasking
Designing for Lollipop
At creative workline we often make the same digital product for Android and iOS. The product needs to provide the same experience to every user, independent on which platform the user is using the product. For instance, Facebook’s Android app needs to deliver the same experience as Facebooks’s iOS app.
As we are always keeping track of (design) trends, we saw a big difference in style between Android and iOS. Designing the same product for both platform was always a challenge. We have already been designing apps for Lollipop with the material design style used. Since of that point we have the feeling we can create more unified and same experience on different platforms.
Google announced the greatest update with Android’s 5th major version ‘Lollipop’ and we couldn’t agree more. We’re experiencing the biggest design changes in the Android operating system. Where the previous versions were still “childish” and not finalized, Google has now delivered an unified and clean design that makes Android feel as a complete product.
They did not only updated the visual design style, but they carefully implemented animations and interaction feedback such as zooming and sliding.
Material Design also comes with interesting design elements such as Cards. These Cards were implemented in other Google products before, and now are implemented in Android. That is a sign that Google isn’t only updating their mobile operating system, but is building a bigger thing, a design language that can be used in any Google product: Material Design.
Comparing it to iOS 8 we must say that we are very happy Google made the design changes they made with Lollipop. We are now not certain anymore that Apple is still leading in design and we see a movement of creativity; we’re now seeing beautifully designed apps on both platforms, where before we’re mostly seeing them on iOS devices. We notice that both operating systems are evolving and improving, and wanting to do so in the future. That is a spirit that we at creative workline GmbH share with Google and Apple.
We already have designed apps in line of Android’s Material Design and we feel that we can deliver a more unified experience on different platforms. As we write we are developing apps for Android 5.0 and we can’t wait until they hit the Play Store. Are you interested in having your app being developed, improved or re-designed for Android and Material Design? Get in touch with us.