Google is rolling out a new batch of Material Design guidelines that allow users to select some of their favourites colours and then have those hues be persistent across Google apps and third-party software.
The company calls this theme ‘Material You,’ and it’s coming to Google Pixel phones first in the fall. After that, the company plans to roll it out to the web, smart displays and other Google products.
This is a significant design change and should allow users to customize how their Google products look. On Android 12, the new system can even create a custom colour palette to match your wallpaper, and it changes things like the colour of your widgets, apps and other system UI elements.
On top of just changing the colours, Google is adding playful design tweaks and including more animations to make browsing your phone feel smooth. The Android 12 developer preview included a new bouncy animation whenever you scroll to the bottom of a page, and I’d expect to see a lot more of this once the full Android 12 beta launches later today.
There are also new widgets, and the notification shade looks a lot more cohesive compared to the new design. There are even some interesting tweaks, like a new full-screen clock icon on the Pixel lock screen that only appears if you have no new notifications.
This is really the focal point of this Material Design update; everything is much more visually cohesive. This is a huge plus for Google, which typically has had a hard time getting app developers to adopt Material Design guidelines. Another highlight from Google’s Material You blog post is that the company says it’s also going to try and extend this design language to Google hardware. It’s unclear if that means that more customization or colours are coming to the next batch of Google devices, but it’s exciting nonetheless.
On the Android side of things specifically, Google says that the new design is built on top of a new underlying system that should make things feel more smooth as you navigate around your phone. At I/O, Google said that it should make phones feel around 15 to 22 percent faster.
To make Android a little more functional, Google has put some work into revamping the notification shade and quickly toggle controls. This includes new buttons for Google Pay and to control your smart home gadgets. The previous option to hold the power button to access Google Pay and these controls have been replaced by Google assistant which now appears whenever you hold the power button down.
Hopefully, this new design will prompt developers to use the new look and customization tools. The Android 12 beta is now live for Pixel phones, and you can download it at your own risk here. You can learn more about the new Material Design principles by checking out Google’s Material design website and the upcoming I/O events.
Privacy in Android 12
Google’s also adding some new privacy controls to Android to help users keep some of their information a little more private on their phones. This includes a new Privacy Dashboard screen that allows users to see all of the device permissions they’ve allowed in a more straightforward way. Much like iOS, Google is also adding indicators to the top of the screen to show when your phone’s microphone and camera so you’re never caught off guard when your phone might be recording things.
Another cool privacy tweak is that when an app asks for your location, you can choose to give it your approximate location instead of your exact location. This should help it know roughly where you are but not exactly. This could be useful for apps that use your location to surface ads, but less useful for things like finding what Tim Hortons location is the closest to you when you’re putting in a mobile order.
Google also mentions that it has more Android 12 features that it hasn’t released yet, coming out later this year.