Google unveils Material You, a massive overhaul of Android’s user interface

At Google I/O today, Google unveiled more about Android 12, and the biggest change is a complete visual overhaul of the operating system. It’s called Material You, and it’s radically different from what Android looks and feels like today. Every visual and animated aspect of the operating system seems to have been changed. Some examples:

Wallpaper-based theming — or “color extraction” as Google calls it — brings bold color combinations to every corner of the OS. It automatically decides which hues in your wallpaper are good for the dominant and complementary colors and applies them in all of Android’s screens, menus, and even first-party apps.


Apple likely lit a fire under Google when it added widgets to iOS, and the Mountain View company has responded with a much-needed refresh of its first-party widget designs. Expect to see new clocks, new weather widgets, new shortcuts to oft-used contacts, and easier access to your favorite chats.

As well as a refresh of the static design elements, Material You will also breathe new life into animations. We’re going to get more fluid motion, better feedback, and generally much smoother performance. Google says that its work under the hood will reduce the CPU time taken up by core system services by up to 22%, which will be reflected in the user experience.

I think it definitely looks new and fresh, and less edgy and harsh than the current Material Design sometimes feels. Of course, everyone will hate these changes at first – as is tradition – but I’m very curious to see this in action on my own phone, and something like this is sure to get me to take a serious look at the next crop of Pixel phones as my possible next phone, just to get my hands on the new look and feel.

Aside from the massive visual overhaul, Google is also continuing its improvements on the privacy front, but Android being a Google product, I always feel a tad bit skeptical about this particular effort. We’ll see how long it will take for OEMs to actually ship Android 12 – and how badly they will butcher Material You – and as always, that wait may be long.


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