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Google’s New “Material You” Android 12 UI Design Works Best From Pixel 3 Devices and Up

While it might be a distant memory for some, Google’s past overall product design was pretty plain. The UI for Android was unattrative, especially when compared to iOS. Their products were largely functional but not pretty to look at.

Thankfully in 2014 all that changed when Google overhauled their design language and called it Material Design. It was a big step forward for the company as all of Google’s apps followed a clear and consistent design language. It not only helped the company but gave their various Android OEM partners something to leap off.

From that genesis, in 2021, we have an update that simply looks stunning. Called “Material You” it really has to be seen be appreciated. The new UI redesign is filled with animations galore and is less sticky when it comes to the icon and interface grids. One cool feature is being able to set a wallpaper and the UI will automatically analyze the colour palette. What happens next would be several custom complementary color palettes will be offered and users can then pick one to easily reskin the phone’s interface accordingly.

However, all this benefit does come at a price.

“It will work retroactively. This new design system will be available with Pixel 3 4, and 5. Some of the animations as you go back in generations, (the) animations, transitions, some of the effects will be more performant on more recent generations. Our upcoming phone release will be the flagship experience for this and so it really depends on the processing power. The more performant the phone, the more processing power, the more you will get out of the user experience”

Sebastian Bauer, Senior Director of Design, Android and Pixel at Google

So while the Material You design does look great overall, to really get the best out of this update would be to secure a Pixel 6 on release.

We’ve seen some of this fancy transitions in some form before if you’re familiar with using third-party Android launchers and some have been pretty janky causing a drain on the phone’s battery. However, the Android team is confident this should not be the case with “Material You” –

We’ve worked very hard with our partner teams across Google so that we will not be taking a hit on performance and so we made sure that wouldn’t significantly affect the performance and the power consumption

Sebastian Bauer, Senior Director of Design, Android and Pixel at Google

While it’s a pretty broad claim, it’s still an area for concern especially considering that “Material You” will be supported retroactively to the Pixel 3. If performance takes a hit, it’s likely to put off users who might not be willing to upgrade and they miss out possibly one of the best experiences on Android.

The first beta for Android 12 is available right now. You can enroll your Pixel phone on Google’s Android beta site or find specific instructions for other supported phones on the Android Developers page.


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