“Material You” is Google’s “radical new way to think about design.” It’s a hyper-personalized approach to designing custom appearances for apps and other interfaces that adapts to users, starting on Android.
Designers across Google from Hardware, Android, and App teams came together to respond to this challenge, asking themselves, “What if form did not just follow function, but also followed feeling?” Material You explores a more humanistic approach to design. One that celebrates the tension between design sensibility and personal preference, and does not shy away from emotion. Without compromising the functional foundations of our apps, Material You seeks to create designs that are personal for every style, accessible for every need, alive and adaptive for every screen.
Matias Duarte announced Material You at I/O 2021 and touted that it’s been in development for years. It comes seven years after the introduction of Material Design. It’s directly preceded by Material Theming, Google’s attempt in 2018 to allow developers to better customize the appearance of their apps.
With Material You, Google wants design to embrace emotion and people’s demand for “more expressiveness and control over their personal devices” as computing becomes more pervasive and advanced. As such, the user is a co-creator with something as highly personal as wallpaper used to generate unique Material palettes that apply to the system, first, and third-party apps.
We mix color science with years of investment in the disciplines of interaction design and engineering to make it possible to tailor any app—not just Google’s—to the user’s unique Material palette in real time.
Meanwhile, for Google and developers, Material You designs can adapt to different screen sizes and types. It leverages “motion to help understand space, convey brand, and elicit trust.”
The UI reacts to screen changes, context changes, and input in a way that is consistent but also human. Little surprises and playful quirkiness augment basic storytelling—making technology approachable and comfortable.
The last big tentpole is that Material You is designed to be highly accessible for different needs from control over contrast to size and line.
Material You is first coming to Android 12, specifically Pixel devices, this fall. It will then come to the web, Chrome OS, wearables, Smart Displays, and, eventually, all Google products.
Our ambitious vision for Material You is a multiyear journey that will evolve all of Google’s products and ecosystems.
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