What’s New in Material Design – I/O ’15 Edition

What’s New in Material Design – I/O ’15 Edition

Design at Google has grown exponentially in the past few years, with three major styles prevalent in that short time. The initial black, green and orange combination gave way to the gray, white and blue style dubbed ‘Holo’, and while most people deemed it a vast improvement, few realized that the Holo design concepts were but a stepping stone, a way to bring users up to speed with the latest underlying trends, and once that was achieved after persisting across three major Android releases, Holo eventually gave way and opened the floodgates that displayed the true potential of the Google Design team.
Material Design, when it was launched at Google I/O 2014 alongside Android L, gave off the impression of a beautifully polished product, but just like any other product out there, it hadn’t undergone real-world testing and there was still a lot to learn. When Android 5.0 and 5.1 were announced in October and April respectively, Google pushed minor updates to the Material Spec, but the best was yet to come. Last week at Google I/O, VP of Design at Google, Matias Duarte, took to the stage in his Material Now session and gave a rundown of what the team had learned in one year of testing and what changes were coming to the Material Spec, in addition to numerous smaller announcements. Let’s take a look at what’s new in the Material Design Spec, May 2015 edition:

Adaptive UIlayout_adaptive_breakpoints_01

One of the primary objectives of Material Design was to bring visual and experience consistency across a large number of platforms, but up until now there was no specific guidelines regarding how content containers would look and scale across form factors. The addition of the Adaptive UI section brings responsive layout guidance, grids, breakpoints, and patterns to the spec, simplifying the task of developing for a multi-screen world


patterns_emptystates_doEmpty States

Content serving apps often find themselves in a state where there’s no content to show, and as a result, users are often left looking at blank screens, which can prove to be an unsettling experience. The Empty States section addresses this very need, and contains guidance for states when regular content can’t be shown.




Launch Screenspatterns-launch-screens-01

In what is possibly the most visible effect of the Material Spec’s learning curve, the Launch Screens section brings guidelines for branding and placeholder content, which is essentially a splash screen that shows up when an app is launched. This addition to the spec was met with mixed reactions, given that Google has been strongly advocating against the use of splash screens for years now, however, the real-world data and loading limitations gave way to a solution that is the lesser of two evils



Designers are often faced with the navigation conundrum, and with the variety of choices Android offers, they’re often left perplexed, unable to choose one over the other, and sometimes ending up making the wrong choice. The Navigation section breaks down multiple use cases, and addresses them one-by-one, suggesting the best option for each case and greatly simplifying the designer’s job.


Elevation and Shadows and Authentic Motion

Both these sections have been around since the initial launch of the Material Spec, but the May 2015 update saw both receive minor content updates. Elevation and Shadows has been renamed to Objects in 3D space, and has new details on elevation changes. Authentic Motion addresses animation in design, and now describes easing animations in greater detail

The past twelve months have been huge for the design community, and Google has no intention of taking their foot off the pedal. In addition to the Spec update, the Design Support Library, and a new typeface, Roboto Mono, made an appearance at I/O ’15, fortifying Material’s presence and simplifying its implementation. The Google Design website has also been updated with a host of new content, such as behind-the-scenes videos, expert articles, a jobs section and more. What change are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments section below!

About author

Faiz Malkani
Faiz Malkani

Faiz Malkani is a designer committed to creating memorable digital experiences augmented by delightful interfaces. He's been working in the design field for over three years and is proficient in experience design and interface design. He also codes occasionally, with Android and Frontend Web being his preferred platforms.