A second generation of Google’s “Material Design” user interface overhaul for the Android operating system is rumored to be in the works, with the suggestion that it could be darkening colors and tweaking iconography. The purpose of the update, if it is 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. Although little is known about a successor, a few mentions on the Chromium Gerrit do suggest that Material Design 2 is being actively developed.
None of the changes noted are drastic, as XDA-Developers explains, but they would lead to a subtle alteration in how Android looks. Specifically, grays and reds would appear slightly darker, as well as changes in the layout and size of certain interface elements. They also change aspects of the standard Chrome toolbar, making it brighter than the existing light gray color scheme, and in fact nearly white.
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.
All of this is mere speculation at this point, because no official announcement has been made by Google regarding the Chromium commits and Material Design 2. However, shortly after this story first broke, 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