Now that Android L has been unveiled and people are getting more familiar with the changes that are coming up on Android, from the visual side to the features, Google is starting to update all its core apps to reflect the new UI style. This is evident in, for example, the latest Google+ app redesign, or the past Google Docs update that made Sheets and Docs their own apps. Now, a little taste of Material Design is coming to the Play Store as well, and it shows how Google is planning to make the transition to Material Design across most Android versions, not just L. Let’s take a look at what’s new and how this redesign may affect other apps in the future.
The Play Store is an essential part of the Android ecosystem, being the preferred way of getting and installing apps, and it’s one of the central elements of the OS since each update reflects the latest visual tendencies and elements of Android. So, it’s very telling that the future updates to the Play Store are heading in a Material Design kind of direction, and it’s expected to see it spread across most Google apps and, after L finally releases, most third party apps. However, this is a good thing – while we already know that only L Release devices will be able to take full advantage of the new features and visual elements of Material Design, Google has also made clear that most features and effects will be ported to older versions of Android and should work in pretty much the same way if the developers put in the effort. This refresh of the Play Store proves that, as we start to see a bunch of Material Design elements emerge in a very natural and transparent way, even on older releases and devices.
Let’s start with the basics. Once you open the updated Play Store version, you might notice it looks largely the same:
Well, that is to be expected. After all, the juicy new stuff isn’t there yet! However, things change when you, for example, pick an app:
You might notice the near total redesign in this area: first of all, content is front and center, with the app video or demo front and center and ready to be played, whenever available, along with the main buttons to install/uninstall/buy/open the app right away. Also important to note are those new icons below the video – these are interactive and tapping over one of them will show you apps with the same characteristics, or a specific review, depending on what the icon is. They allow you to figure out what kind of app it is right away and find similar apps.
Another welcomed change is the fact that the “What’s New” section, also know as the changelog, is given priority for apps you already have installed. This means that you will be able to, right away, find out what new features the latest update brought over to the app:
In case it’s a new app, the usual app description will be shown instead of the last update. Of course, along with all of this, there is a cleaner visual style with a focus on information first: reviews are presented in a sober style and given their own section:
As is the trend with L, this update implements a bunch of new animations, effects and transitions in the redesigned areas: for example, when you first enter an app, movie or album, the title bar will not be shown, in order to give the media all the screen space it can get:
However, as you scroll down past the media section, the title bar will slowly begin to fade in:
It’s a neat little effect that reflects the shift in UI that Google is looking to implement. Every interaction in the redesigned areas seem to have some sort of effect or toggle associated with it, and it ends up being a great way to give the user some feedback. However, it’s clear that this is still work in progress, and there is plenty to be done. For now, this is a great first effort, and more responsive and natural than anyone would have thought to be likely considering it’s not actually running on Android L and the API is likely not mature yet. Stay tuned for more updates on this front as Google starts getting serious about Material Design and UI, now reaching a device near you as well!