Talking tech since 2003

Today, a whole host of Googlers took to the stage to show off various improvements being made to Android, which is going into developer preview tomorrow morning. Android L – so called before the company reveals the specific codename – has a big aesthetic redesign that looks like it’ll offer an interesting batch of options for developers, and a great UI experience for users.

Called Material Design, the new UI format resembles animated, reshapable cardstock, complete with corners, depth, and shadows. So when you touch an app window or notification, you’ll see 3D-style shadows and animation in response, providing an interesting and immersive-seeming interface.

“We drew inspiration from paper and ink,” said Matias Duarte, Vice President of Design in Android. “However, unlike real paper, our digital material can expand, reform, and reshape intelligently.”

gmail-previewWe got a sneak peek at how Gmail will look under the new redesign. Of note is the redesigned function buttons at the bottom. Moreover, notifications have gotten an overhaul. While you’re working in one app, you’ll get a notification at the top of your screen, from which you can accept, deny, or dismiss with a tap or a flick, without interrupting what you’re doing in your current app.

Another new feature in Android L is called “Personal Unlocking.” According to Dave Burke, Android’s Director of Engineering, phones running Android L can “use signals like locations you’ve designated, Bluetooth devices, or even your unique voice print” to unlock a device. That means you won’t have to take time inputting a password or pin code if certain conditions are met. For instance, if you’re connected via a smartwatch, you’ll be able to unlock by just turning your phone on.

Chrome is also getting deeper integration into Android. The Recent button will provide access to recent tabs you have open in Chrome, meaning you can navigate page by page from the Recent button without having to go into Chrome itself. And apps can be accessed via Chrome as well, so if you want to make a reservation at a restaurant you’re looking at online, you’ll be able to open the OpenTable app right from the browser.

Those innovations, plus a new Battery Saver mode that can be activated manually or automatically, are just some of the new features that are coming to Android L. Hopefully developers will take advantage of these new options – and the many others we didn’t get to in this post. It’ll be interesting to hear what else Google has in store for consumers and developers at I/O.


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