The Highlight 2014 — Material Design Apps
The pace at which Android design has been improving since Android 4.1 is pretty mindblowing. Google has consistently been pushing out quality updates to their widely used apps on Android and iOS in the last few months. Last year we featured our favourite iOS 7 redesigns. This year iOS design has taken a back seat to bringing some much needed improvement to the core OS features. Android on the other hand has finally gotten a proper design language that many developers are actually following in their apps. Android 5.0 and Material Design across Google’s apps were the highlights of mobile design this past year. Without further ado, here are our favourite Material Design apps in day 4 of The Highlight.
Today Calendar is absolutely gorgeous. It is full of delightful animations like the add event button morphing into an event composer and custom event backgrounds. An event that contains the keyword ‘coffee’ has an image of two coffee cups and reminder like events have a checkmark background. Today Calendar has multiple ways to view your schedule but the split view is easily the best one. It also has a lovely palette of colours that can be used to completely tweak the look and feel of the app. Today Calendar is available on Google Play for free as a 30 day trial. The pro version is available for $5.99.
Robird has been awesome right from the start. We’ve loved its design and with Android 5.0, it became not just the best looking Twitter app on Android, but one of the best on any platform. It’s default dark theme is amazing. It makes use of the new pull to refresh that has become a staple in modern Android apps and has a translucent soft buttons bar at the bottom. There isn’t much to dislike about Robird barring the app icon and a few of the glyphs used. Robird is the best looking Twitter app on Google Play and it is available for $1.99.
Inbox by Google takes what we love about Mailbox and Google Now and gives us one of the best things to happen to email since gmail. It is beautifully designed and saves you a lot of time by displaying relevant things from each email message in your inbox. Inbox uses Material Design on both iOS and Android. Its gestures are intuitive and it has us really excited for the future of gmail. Inbox is available for free on the App Store and Google Play.
Textra is an elegant SMS app. It ticks all the correct boxes with fluid animations and a look that would make any fan of good design proud. Textra is chock full of the functionality one would expect from an SMS app as well like delivery reports and custom notification settings. Textra even supports Android Wear and Pushbullet. The look can be customized with a wide array of colours that all look great. There’s also a great dark mode. Textra is available for free on Google Play.
Wallpaper apps on Google Play are as plentiful as weather apps on the App Store. Most of them look plain awful but there are a few that manage to get the job done well. Wally is the best wallpaper app on Android and its new Material Design look is excellent. Wally uses elements from wallpapers to decide the interface element colours and has a lot of subtle animations throughout. The loading animations while a wallpaper is downloading in particular is really good. Wally changes the top bar appearance as you swipe through the various sections of the app. Wally is available for free on Google Play.
Journal by Journey was one of the first apps to adopt Material Design. It makes use of great typography and an interface that doesn’t distract you at all. Every entry is organized in the navigation drawer. Sections like Atlas that shows you all your entries on the map and Inspirations that has inspirational quotes ready to be added make this app unique. The app uses a nice shade of blue throughout. There’s even a custom christmas background in the app today. Journal is available for free on Google Play. An in app purchase unlocks Markdown support, night mode, and data backup.
Flyne, from the developer of the well known Twitter client Falcon Pro, is an offline reading app. It has been updated to sport a shiny new Material Design look after launch and it looks pretty great. Joaquim Vergès is known to update his apps often and quickly and as with Falcon Pro, Flyne is fantastic. It has a nice red theme throughout. The actual articles are at the forefront of the app with a lovely reading layout. Flyne pulls stories from predetermined sources or through Twitter and Feedly. The Twitter and Feedly options are available via separate in app purchases of $1.99 and $0.99 respectively. Flyne is available for free on Google Play.
2014 has been a great year for Google Design. We’re really excited to see what 2015 brings. Hopefully big name developers follow suite and update their apps for modern Android devices like the Nexus 6 and 9.
We’d like to take a moment to wish Merry Xmas & happy holidays to all our readers. Thank you for everything. We will be back tomorrow with part 5 of The Highlight. Make sure you’re subscribed to our RSS, Twitter and Facebook feeds.
[Masthead Credit: Sonaal from Effect Works. Thanks to @slackerninja for his help.]