Material Design: 10 apps that show off Google's new UI language

With Material Design Google is hoping to introduce a tactile feel to apps running on its platforms.

The design guide describes how to build app interfaces from components that behave like physical objects - occupying 3D space, casting shadows, stacking on top of each other and even simulating momentum when moved.

This physicality isn't just a stylistic choice, but aimed at making interfaces obey a set of rules that mimic real-world behaviour and intuitively make sense to people.

The distinguishing features of Material Design interfaces are bold colours and distinct components separated by clear white space.

Google describes Material Design as an attempt to take hundreds of years of knowledge about typography, graphic design and how to structure information from printed media and encompass it in how apps are constructed.

It's a design language Google will use in its own apps across computers, phones, tablets, wearables and TVs today, and on whatever new platforms emerge tomorrow. Not only that but Google is encouraging third party app developers to follow suit, providing the fonts, layout templates and colour palettes developers need to get started on building a Material Design app.

Material Design can already be seen in a selection of apps running on Android Lollipop, the latest version of the Google's operating system for phones, tablets, TVs, wearables and cars. Here are a selection from Google's Play Store that show off some of Material Design's key characteristics.


The e-Cal calendar app demonstrates how shadows provide visual cues about the relationship between components of the UI.

Notice how the shadow below the yellow button provides an indication of how fair it sits above the surface below. The elevation of an object determines the appearance of its shadow.

Image: Google Play Store/E-sites

By Nick Heath

Nick Heath is a computer science student and was formerly a journalist at TechRepublic and ZDNet.