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With Quantum Paper, Google aims to unify Android’s design

Google I/O is fast approaching, and while most of the rumors have focused on the debut of Android Wear, there are also several new reports about Android 4.5. The mysterious Android “L” might be named “Lollipop” or “Lemon Meringue Pie” (after “J” for Jelly Bean and “K” for KitKat), but that’s still anybody’s guess. It’s unknown exactly when the next version of Android will debut, but many rumors indicate that Google will try to unify Android’s design, simplify things further, and get updates out to devices faster.

Each year, Google creates an Android-improvement project. For Ice Cream Sandwich, it was Project Butter, which aimed to make Android move smoother. For KitKat, it was Project Svelte, which sought to cut down on bulk, so that Android could run on any device, whether high or low end. This time around, it’s allegedly Quantum Paper, a project dedicated to creating a cohesive, comprehensive Android design that can travel across all kinds of devices. It will also be used to dictate the design language of apps on the Web and iOS.

Android Police discovered evidence of Quantum Paper’s existence and how it will affect Android’s appearance. Another website, Geek.com, managed to get screenshots of what appears to be a major Gmail redesign based on Quantum Paper’s design principles. Over all, it looks as though Google wants to make Android look beautiful and simple. At first glance it looks like nothing has changed, but basic elements like buttons, app interaction, and menus appear very different.

The toggle switch, search icon, “new content” button, and “cluster” icon are all totally different.

Android 4.5 Quantum Paper

(Image via AndroidPolice)

Developers will soon have to use Quantum Paper’s design language to create Android apps, juts like developers must follow certain rules when they make iOS apps. Encouraging developers to use a few of the same, key elements should help make Android look more cohesive and, as a result, more beautiful. Of course, Quantum Paper’s style will be most obvious in Google’s own app suite, so the screenshots of the redesigned Gmail app is indicative of what we can expect from Android in the future (you can see them here).

The new design rules should take effect with the release of Android 4.5, but not before then. If Google doesn’t show off Android “L” at Google I/O, it means we’ll have to wait much longer before we see the design guidelines take effect. The timing, however, is right for the next version of Android to launch at I/O later this month; in recent years, Google has revamped Android every five to eight months, and it’s been 9 months since KitKat came knocking on our door.

Still, the lack of rumors and leaks seems to indicate that Android 4.5 may not be ready yet. It could be that I/O will be the Android Wear show this year instead.