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Material Design 2.0: rounded corners, darkened palette, and more

Material Design

A second generation of Google’s “Material Design” user interface overhaul appears to be in the works. Screenshots from the latest Chrome Canary build for Windows show that the UI will be darkened and Google will continue to move toward a more rounded interface. The purpose of the update, if enacted as it appears, would be to improve readability on devices, as well as tweak the way Android responds to touch inputs.

The original Material Design user interface was implemented in 2014 with the launch of Android Lollipop. It introduced a clean color palette and subtle physics to give the Android OS and associated apps more of a real-world feel. Google has made it easier over the years for other developers to adopt the design choices, too.

The new Chrome overhaul will make similarly subtle, but impactful changes on the browser’s user interface. As 9to5Mac highlights, the first changes have now appeared in the Canary build of Chrome, showing rounded tabs and a darker UI. The new tab “+” icon has been moved to the far left and the account avatar has been moved to the toolbar.

Note the rounded tabs and the newly located new tab “+” button in the top left. Image used with permission by copyright holder

Other changes hinted at in updated Material Design specifications on Chromium hint at a floating effect for the omnibar dropdown and new prompts for certain text inputs.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

On a more functional level, Google also appears to be tweaking the way touch support works with the Chrome web browser on Chrome OS. There are references to touch optimization elements within the Material Design 2 notes, though they don’t go into any detail.

While these changes are in the works though, they’re not directly linked to any kind of official Material Design announcement. However, shortly after this story first broke in February, the original commits were made private, which would suggest they weren’t intended for public release. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are legitimate, but it adds a little more weight to the idea that Google has something up its UI design sleeve.

When you consider too that 9to5Mac received tips just over a year ago about a potential successor to Material Design, it seems quite likely that at some point in the future Google will be making some subtle but substantial changes to how Chrome looks on various devices.

According to the tip we received last year, the goals of this supposed Material successor are to increase readability and efficiency, and minimize clutter. It’s the “cleanest
implementation of a natural UI yet.”

— Stephen Hall (@hallstephenj) February 5, 2018

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