What Is Material You?
In 2014, Google launched Material Design as a design system containing a series of guidelines, components, and tools to help designers and developers build consistent user experiences across multiple endpoints on the OS.
Google announced Material You at the I/O Conference in May 2021. The goal for Material You is a design system that will embrace all of Google's products and ecosystems. Material You is coming to Pixel phones and Google applications this fall, with later rollouts to other devices over time. Matias Duarte, Google's VP of material design, said it was already in development for several years.
Google is planning a series of releases and updates to its Material Design website over the summer. The goal is to update all of the material components to provide guidance to developers and UX designers on working with the Material You system.
Material You Principles
Material You is built around the principle of adapting to a users' needs and preferences across all touchpoints where the users interact. At the most basic level, a user can pick a wallpaper, and the Android OS will update combinations across the entire device. Material You automatically pulls out the primary and complementary colors and applies them to all screens, UI components, and across Google apps. If users want to get more hands-on, they can pick from customized color palettes across the system and their apps. But Material You goes beyond colors; users can adjust type size, contrast, buttons, and other visual settings that are updated in real-time, not only on Google products but across 3rd parties apps as well. The biggest design change is this radical new way of thinking about a flexible design system that adapts to each user's personal preference.
The UI reacts to screen changes, context changes, and input in a way that is consistent but also human. Little surprises and playful quirkiness augment basic storytelling—making technology approachable and comfortable.
Material You contains new UI elements that track with the current design trend of larger visual elements and more whitespace. As a result, the overall design is much more open and approachable. This new design language could add tension in finding balance in phone UIs where information density is greater. Pure whites are replaced with creamier and warmer palettes. Rounded corners replace hard edges, and there is a greater emphasis on more organic shapes and themes. The updated visual language will also apply to animations to improve overall UX.
"What if form did not just follow function, but also followed feeling?"
Designers and developers will be keeping track of the rollout of Material You and how it influences future app design. You can follow the launch on material.io, Material's YouTube channel, or Twitter. I'll continue to update this guide as more information on Material You is released.