Google is planning a major revamp of its Material Design that encompasses several of its software properties under a single visual umbrella. It already gave Gmail its largest revamp in the longest time earlier this year. We’ve seen these new design cues on the upcoming Android P as well. We know this thanks to a new Google design video that recently surfaced on Vimeo but has since been taken down.
Google’s updated design language
The video showed off new design guidelines for Gmail, Google Photos, Trips and Drive. It featured Adam Grabowski and Nicolo Bianchino. These two aren’t Googlers, but collaborators who have worked on videos for major Google designs. Bianchino says the two “worked together with the Google Material Design team to create a piece showcasing their updated design system for their internal teams”.
The video featured the usual splashy motion effects and upbeat music, ending with a showcase of brand-new Google app designs. It’s clear the designs are mock-ups and nothing can be treated as final. This becomes more obvious since the video was taken down. Google goes through a stringent user testing process with constant tweaks and updates. It would be no surprise if we didn’t see some these new design make it to their respective apps or something very different.
The mock-up video was obviously meant for internal use because we could see placeholder shapes for the status bar icons. So what’s Google’s general design direction based on what we’ve seen? An all-white overlay across the board. Google has always chosen white prominently with just a splash of other colors.
Expected design changes
Gmail’s trademark red UI strip has disappeared and now it’s a full-white bottom bar and background. You can see attached documents and large thumbnails for images on your inbox. The messages tab shows attachments on a horizontal scrolling carousel. All the important controls are places at the bottom of the screen. There, a bottom bar houses the usual mark as read, delete, archive and reply all buttons. The compose screen will also show previous replies above the compose field.
You would think there isn’t much to change in Google Photos. The new iteration looks a lot like its current version with a white background (it’s currently gray if you hadn’t realised) and plenty of outline artwork. All the new interfaces are adopting this style of outlines. We’ve seen on the most recent build of Android P as well.
Google Drive will get the new bottom control panel as well. We can see four tabs: Home, Favourites, Shared with me and a folder icon tab. There are tabs at the top as well along with the search bar. Google Trips gets a cool search bar up right at the top. It contains a search icon, a colorful logo and a menu button.
Google Maps gets rid of the standard blue bar on the expandable menu and blue icons, going all white with gray icons and minor UI updates to photo carousels, the search bar and buttons.
It’s always refreshing when a frequently used app goes through a visual uplift with slight UI updates that don’t disrupt usage too much. From what we’re seeing, it looks just like that. Enough to improve use but not too much to disrupt frequent users.