Material Design (codenamed quantum paper) is a design language developed by Google and announced at the Google I/O conference on June 25, 2014. Expanding upon the "card" motifs first seen in Google Now, it is a design with increased use of grid-based layouts, responsive animations and transitions, padding, and depth effects such as lighting and shadows. Designer Matías Duarte explained that "unlike real paper, our digital material can expand and reform intelligently. Material has physical surfaces and edges. Seams and shadows provide meaning about what you can touch." Google states that their new design language is based on paper and ink.
Material design is used in Android version 2.1 and up via the v7 appcompat library, that is, on virtually all devices that were made after 2009. Material design will gradually be extended throughout Google's array of web and mobile products, providing a consistent experience across all platforms and applications. Google has also released application programming interfaces (APIs) for third-party developers to incorporate the design language into their applications.
As of now, material design is incorporated in most of Google's mobile apps for Android including Gmail, YouTube, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Maps, Inbox, and all of the Google Play-branded apps, and to a smaller extent in the Chrome browser and Google Keep; as well as in the desktop web interfaces of Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides and Inbox.
The canonical implementation of Material Design for web application UIs is called Polymer paper elements. It consists of the Polymer library, a shim that provides a Web Components API for browsers that don't implement the standard natively, and the Paper elements collection.
Material is the metaphor
A material metaphor is the unifying theory of a rationalized space and a system of motion. The material is grounded in tactile reality, inspired by the study of paper and ink, yet technologically advanced and open to imagination and magic. Surfaces and edges of the material provide visual cues that are grounded in reality. The use of familiar tactile attributes helps users quickly understand affordances. Yet the flexibility of the material creates new affordances that supersede those in the physical world, without breaking the rules of physics. The fundamentals of light, surface, and movement are key to conveying how objects move, interact, and exist in space and in relation to each other. Realistic lighting shows seams, divides space, and indicates moving parts.
Bold, graphic, intentional
The foundational elements of print-based design—typography, grids, space, scale, color, and use of imagery—guide visual treatments. These elements do far more than please the eye. They create hierarchy, meaning, and focus. Deliberate color choices, edge-to-edge imagery, large-scale typography, and intentional white space create a bold and graphic interface that immerse the user in the experience. An emphasis on user actions makes core functionality immediately apparent and provides waypoints for the user.
Motion provides meaning
Motion respects and reinforces the user as the prime mover. Primary user actions are inflection points that initiate motion, transforming the whole design. All action takes place in a single environment. Objects are presented to the user without breaking the continuity of experience even as they transform and reorganize. Motion is meaningful and appropriate, serving to focus attention and maintain continuity. Feedback is subtle yet clear. Transitions are efﬁcient yet coherent.
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- "Polymer paper elements". Google.
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- "Material Design Principles". Google.
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