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What's New in Android 5.0: Material Design, ART, and More

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The Google I/O conference was held yesterday, and as one might expect, there was some Android news, particularly regarding Android 5.0 (or "L," as Google refers to it). Some was already pretty clear - the move from Dalvik to ART, for example - but the most interesting news came from Matias Duarte, even though mobile is dead.

Duarte gave a demo of what Google calls "Material Design," which has the look of so-hot-right-now flat design enhanced with an interesting sense of depth. It looks something like this:

(Source: live stream screen shot)

According to Mat Honan at Wired, this will have a variety of uses when it comes to streamlining Android design. The look is a big part of it, but it will also have a practical impact:

Material features a grid-based layout so that developers can create a design for one device, and easily port it to others with different screen sizes. There’s a unified set of style guidelines for every screen and all devices.

As well as some functionality that really just looks cool:

It has new animation capabilities that supports things like ripples. There’s a Z component to support elevation—which lets developers add things like real-time shadows. (There’s a ripple touch effect that radiates out when you hit buttons from the dialer, for example.)

But that's just one of the features coming in Android 5.0. Others included:

  • Improved notifications
  • Smarter lock features
  • More integration with Chrome
  • Enhanced app indexing
  • 64-bit compatible ART runtime
  • Battery Historian

If you're interested in Google's other announcements - Android Wear, Google Fit, Android Auto and so on - we've covered that elsewhere, and given some individual attention to the big Cloud Data Flow announcement as well. As far as Android 5.0 goes, though, it all looks pretty interesting. Assuming your carrier lets you update, that is.

Robots, however, were a no-show.