Preview Android’s new look with these Google-approved apps

Photo by Janko Roettgers/Gigaom

One of the most noticeable changes in Android L is the prominent use of Google’s colorful new design language, called Material Design. But even if you’re not ready to load a developer preview onto your phone, you can preview Android’s makeover by downloading apps that have already incorporated elements of Material Design. A good place to start is Google’s Beautiful Design collection, which was updated on Tuesday.

The twelve apps in this collection run the gamut from essential apps you may have already downloaded (Spotify) to lesser-known gems that deserve a closer look (Lumosity). The one thing they all have in common is “masterfully crafted design details,” and although the full Android L look isn’t a requirement to make it onto this list, most of these apps sport UI elements straight from Material Design. Expect a more consistent layout with options hidden on the left-hand side, as well as a greater emphasis on color to define app identity. For instance, across the bottom of various image-heavy screens in Airbnb’s app you’ll find a screen-wide button color-matched to Airbnb’s oddly suggestive new logo.

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When introducing Material Design at Google I/O, Design VP Matias Duarte described it as “one consistent vision for mobile, desktop, and beyond.” It’s a look that will eventually be used across most Google products, not just Android, and it’s a big step for Google to give all of its products a consistent visual identity. Duarte will be expanding on his design philosophy and Google’s newest design paradigm at Gigaom Roadmap 2014.

A complete list of apps included in Google’s Beautiful Design collection can be found here.

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