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How Google's "Material Theming" will change your Android experience

If you previously visited Google Docs on the web and then typed into a third-party Android app, you've often experienced a bit of Deja-Vu in the interface. However, substantive theming is not a completely new topic. It's just an improved way for developers to maintain consistent design parameters while allowing their own aesthetics to shine through.

Developed for Developers

On Google I / O 2018, the Search Giant explained why Material Theming was created. The guidelines the company originally wrote for Material Design encouraged developers to develop apps that looked too similar. For example, indie apps were hard to distinguish from Google apps built in the same theme, even if they used different color palettes. Developers had difficulty breaking away from the guidelines and developing a kind of "brand," which in turn contributed to a cycle of Android apps that looked too similar.

Material Theming is the cure for monotony. Once connected to Sketch, a prototyping app, developers have access to a variety of customization tools. Elements such as button type and sizing are specified by the developer. You'll have even more button size and shape options than the hovering circle that usually suggests an action in an Android app. (This circle is called a FAB or Floating Action Button ̵

1; these buttons are called Extended FABs.)

There is a layout grid that developers can use to customize the look and feel of the app interface on every platform. If you watch this app on your iPad or on the Internet, it looks and behaves just like on Android. You do not have to change your usage patterns just because you're on a different device.

The Material Theming plug-in also provides intelligent machine learning methods that help developers create better-looking apps. When the developer makes changes to the layout, the algorithm determines if the entire design looks coherent. Android apps now have no excuse for bad design, even if the person coding them has no artistic inclinations. For developers, this algorithm is always at hand, like a sibling or a best friend with an eye for style. Except in this case, it's Google that makes developers think about what things should look like.

Text is also an important part of Material Theming. By default, the tool is loaded with Google's Roboto font. But if a developer does not want to stick with it, he can upload his own font and scale at will. This allows them to have more control over the look of the app, beyond the color schemes and button types. Fonts can really set the mood for an app. After all, it does not look like a very engaging app for kids when all fonts look like boring folder captions on a desktop computer.

There are more customizable user interface elements that arrive across the board, as confirmed by . Fast Co Design . Google plans to update the Material Theming Tool on a monthly basis and can introduce drop shadow, stroke and animation editing capabilities. There is even talk of bringing realistic surfaces to the surface, which could shatter the flat design of Android. Nothing is certain, but if it happens, it will be available to developers first in Material Theming.

Refinement, No Revolution

The Material Theming announcements are not just limited to being an accessible tool for developers. It introduces better design schemes, making apps nicer and easier to navigate. Material theming is not a far-reaching departure from material design; it's just a spruced-up version with better buttons, cleaner layouts and improved organization.

I spoke with Russell Ivanovic, Pocketcasts Chief Product Officer, about Material Theming and what it means for the future of the app. (Full Disclosure: We Also Record a Podcast Together.) Pocketcasts will be featured as a case study in the Material Design blog, complete with models of what the popular podcasting app might look like under the new Material Theming Guidelines. "The prototype feels better and works better than the current version, it looks like a major overhaul when viewed without context and motion," he wrote. "In practice, it feels like a refinement, not a revolution."

The prototype shows a softer-looking pocketcasts app with a white interface instead of the current red one. In fact, the only color to be found on interactive components – buttons and progress indicators – that direct the eyes directly to where the action takes place. The navigation elements are also placed in front and in the middle of the lower edge of the user interface, instead of being hidden in the hamburger menu. Her example also uses new transitions, even though they are not visible in the image on the blog. When the app switches to the player screen, parts of the app, such as the bottom navigation bar, are moved in continuity with the playback controls. Google describes it as a clean transition out of sight.

"Material Design brought an amazing design system that Android painfully missed," added Ivanovic, before noting that compliance with the Apps app was often hard to distinguish. When asked if it was because they were too restrictive, he replied, "It may be that Google did not make it clear that these are guidelines that you can build on and divert from Explained them with Material Theming.

Learn More

Material Theming is more than just a tool to guide developers, it's a constantly evolving design paradigm, although we do not really know What comes next from Google is a few pointers to the various interface elements that could change as a result, and if they get through, developers can implement them without disrupting your app experience, and you can even get more apps See platforms created in "Google style."

If you're curious to experience the new material design and what an app might look like after you've gone through Material Theming There are already some apps with the new paradigm. On the Web, you can see it with your Inbox in Gmail, and on Google and Android, Google Tasks is a great way to familiarize yourself with this experience.

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