Material Design

Featured: Top 10 Material Designed Apps

November 13, 2014 - Written By Phil Bourget

Material Design.  We’re seeing it everywhere nowadays.  Google introduced us to their newly-created ‘quantum paper’ during I/O this summer, and since then, we’ve only seen the number of MD’ed apps grow since then.  With the guidelines being up for developers everywhere, how are you supposed to choose or find some of the best MD’ed apps to add to your app roster.  Well, never fear, we have a few that we’d like to share.  Note, these aren’t in any order except for alphabetical.  Here are ten Material Designed apps.

First, we have Battery Widget Reborn.  Some people may have or have heard of this popular power management-awareness app.   Since the days of Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0, back in fall of 2011) the app’s design has been dark with black background and holo blue accents and moving parts.  Now, with the release of Lollipop to non-Nexus devices beginning soon, it has a nifty new set of paint over top, with MD in tow.

BWR, as we’ll shorten it for the sake of both your time and ours, now features a white background with greenish accents and moving places.  The obvious hints of MD can be seen in Lollipop’s developer preview, with the tinted status bar and the spinning three-lines-arrow animation found in some of Google’s own MD’ed apps like the Play Store and the Photos app.  The app has the slide-out drawer on the left, so you know it’s MD.  As well and good as this update to BWR may be for some, people might miss the holo days of it.  The ‘classic’ version of the app is also available, for those folks, as a separate app.  Now that’s a smart move.

BWR shows you a full screen of information about your battery percentage temperature, and time-until-dead, as well as a running discharge chart, control over the optional notification area information, power management settings like night mode and its implications, and the choice of themes for the app, which are shown for comparison, as well as Fahrenheit and Celsius choosing.

Next, let’s move onto an AH favorite.  Meet Buffer, a posting-man’s (or -woman’s) best friend.  It allows simultaneous posting of information across Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ pages, and App.net.  The app is pretty simple, and that’s where it wins our hearts.  You can sign into up to 12 accounts across the supported social media sites and post to your heart’s content once, and it goes to all of them.  Though we’d love to see Google+ account posting, and some other just-as-popular social platforms like Instagram, Tumblr, or Pinterest, Buffer is still great if you want to get the same information across multiple sites and accounts.  Give it a try if you have the need.

Next up is Clipper.  Now, Clipper is weird.  It’s a clipboard.  When you copy something like text or a link to a website, you send that information to some mystical place that few of us ever see again after moving it from Twitter to Chrome or Firefox.  But, Clipper aims to get you access to that mystical place, and making it a useful place to be and find.  It’s not the device’s actual clipboard, but it does act as one.  You can toggle, once you’ve opened the app the first time, clipboard monitoring, which allows Clipper to tap your system’s clipboard on the shoulder and ask for a copy of what you just copied to it.  Clipper can save, without upgrading to the paid Clipper Plus, up to twenty bits of stuff, and let’s you access them all from within the app.  Did we mention the clipboard monitoring can be toggled from a persistent notification (which doesn’t have an icon in the tray to ugly it up any) found in the notification tray?  So this, paired with Pushbullet is a great and powerful duo of copy-paste management for the avid cross-device user.

The app features a white scheme overall, and has a slide-across navigable three-panel design, with the overscroll shadow animation found in MD’ed apps and the Lollipop settings menu.  It also has little menus that sort of pop into existence from items in the top-right corner of the app, but that’s a small detail.  Overall, Clipper is one of the more worth-having MD’ed apps out there, especially if you have to multitask with a Galaxy Note and its S Pen or multi-window capabilities.

Now we come to a texting app that you might recognize, from a developer all of us should by now.  Jake Klinker, creator in part of Talon, Talon Plus, and Source, has another app for us, and it’s been sitting around for a while.  Before now and the most recent update, Klinker’s EvolveSMS has been sort of set to ‘maintain’ rather than ‘develop and update’ mode.  But now, the app has gotten its own MD facelift, and set of free themes.

EvolveSMS is a nifty texting app that is very colorful, regardless of which theme or setting you choose, so it definitely feels Lollipop-ready (and it is, trust us).  It has a slide-across feature for navigating between conversations with different people, as well as a full-scale list of them at the far left end of the scrolling endeavor.  The themes and options are massive and many, so we won’t go into too much length, but just know that there are many color schemes and settings just out of the box, and there is also support for non-Klinker themes than can be found on the Klinker’s theme showcase and on the Play Store.  If you want to try a new texting aesthetic, go pick it up: it’s free.

Ever wanted to let someone know something important, have it in mind, call the person up, then completely forget what it was?  FloatNote has you covered. You simply open up the app, make a note of what to remember, and who to relay the information to (so it can pop up and show you your note), and you’re good.  It pops up a little floating window that you can move about by, in the call, dragging your finger around your screen.

Once you tap the nice-looking FAB (floating action button) to add your new note-reminder, you can choose to remind-on-call, you can call the person right away, text them the note (since you choose which number of which person, if they have multiple, upon setting the reminder), or just delete it if you happen to run into the person on the daily commute or at the coffee shop.

The app is very clean, with a white and blue look, and a spinning FAB for showing and hiding the options for adding a note.  There are also in-app purchases, but hear us out on these because they’re very different.  So, first there’s obviously the ‘pay a little to upgrade the number of notes and characters per note’, since you’re limited to 30 characters in a note and only five notes in the free setup.  From $1.35 to $4.88, you get various upgrades to your capacity of notes and characters, culminating in unlimited both.  Seem normal?  Good.  The other in-app thing is not a purchase at all.  They’re community-based.  Hear this.

There are also free upgrade opportunities, and they’re based in other people having the app and connecting with them to do things together.  You can tap and get a sixth note added to your free limit, followed by another free one afte rating FloatNote on the Play Store.  How nice.  But, once you generate a unique-to-you code, you can share it with friends, and have them do the same, to get up to four extra free notes, and up to twenty extra characters, so thats just great.  How great is it to have an option to share a great app and get some of the paid bonuses for free?  Go give it a try to see if you can benefit from the Materiality and functionality of FloatNote.

Now, before you shoot anyone with ‘INVITE ME’ or anything, we don’t have any to share right now.  Yes, we’re talking about Inbox, by the Gmail Team.  This app has garnered way too much attention, for an email client.  But, after using it and avoiding the hype and annoyance of the invite assault, it is actually a really good app, with a great design to boot.  Inbox has a Material Design that is both simple and overwhelming.  The app functions as a very visual approach to managing and interacting with your email, the inbox and beyond, as well as task management.

The extra folders and ‘bundles’ of related emails are nice, but slightly complicated to deal with when you go back to Gmail or use something that isn’t Inbox.  The major drawback is that Inbox is limited to Gmail accounts for now.  But, the design, is a calm pleasant-to-stare-at blue and white combo, with the sliding animation for the hamburger menu on the left.  For the full look, go check out our review of Inbox.

Next, we come to Notes.  Notes is a simple, attractive note-taking app, and that’s it.  The app is Material in the purest sense, with the pink FAB and a purplish top bar, shadows behind the floating notes (and a deeper shadow when one is selected before editing).  Notes is in beta, so if you get it, go join the Google+ community to help development along.  Now, note-taking apps are a dime a dozen, and this is a really good note app for a special reason besides aesthetics.  You can hide a note’s title to just have the colored top bar and the navigation keys showing, giving an almost full-screen reading environment, which is great for reading longer notes or lists.  If you don’t like Google Keep, or the many other apps for notes, (or even if you do) go check Notes Beta out for a refreshing notes app.

Potential Beta is an app whose name is far from specific or telling of its function.  But, once you know what it does, it makes perfect sense.  Energy is key in understanding the name (potential as in potential energy), so that’s the hint.  Potential is a battery monitoring app with a trick up its sleeve.  With Potential, you have to log into or create an account for the service, because (here’s the trick) it syncs your device’s battery percentage across all logged in devices.  It allows you to monitor any of the connected devices’ batteries from any of the devices.  You can also manage the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connected state (toggling it on or off) for the synced devices too.  That’s not bad for a simple free app.  Two devices for free, then it’s only $1 to upgrade to as many devices as you want or have.  This app is great for someone monitoring a fleet of devices, or people like us at Android Headlines with multiple devices at any moment of the day.  Go check it out, it’s free to try.

Now, we have another Klinker-developed piece of beautiful genius.  That’s a little forward, given you don’t know (though you might already) which of the team’s apps is next on our list.  Talon.  Talon, the original version, got all of its tokens taken by faithful users, and the Brothers Klinker faced a problem.  Twitter allots 100,000 tokens to non-official / third-party Twitter clients, and they wanted to still provide a great Twitter experience.  They decided to create Talon Plus, a Lollipop-only (Android 5.0 and up, really) version of Talon for users that want to move on up.  The new Talon Plus, once the original ‘Talon for Twitter’ was removed from the Play Store’s digital shelves adopted the previous app’s name and began its reign as a fan favorite, just as its predecessor did.  This app has a new set of 100,000 tokens for users to log in with (or it did when it first launched…) so if you have a Nexus 9, 7, or 5 or the Moto X Pure Edition running Lollipop, go pick it up.  Four dollars is a lot for a Twitter client, but many will tell you it’s a gorgeous experience that’s worth it.

The Material is strong with Talon.  The floating action button is coordinated to change color when you apply one of the pre-installed themes or change the color scheme of the app, and the navigation bar is transparent enough to read through.  The color scheme choosing is almost identical to the Klinkers’ news app Source in its implementation and its appreciation.  If you have need of a nice Twitter client on Lollipop, go check it out.

Now, to round out of list of ten great-looking Material Designed apps for your Android handsets, we have another Twitter client.  Listen, we all love interesting apps and utilities, but some of us just want a nice Twitter client, but one that is a little more subtle in its MD implementation, but still be nice to use and look at (and be worthy of showing off to friends and coworkers).  Meet Tweetings.  Tweetings is, like Talon, Carbon, Plume, and countless others, a portal for your Twitter habits and 140-character shenanigans.  Tweetings takes a different approach than Talon, and it’s rather nice.

Tweetings lets you sign into a blue and white MD Twitter environment, so it’s not too far of a cry from the official Twitter app and its color scheme.  You can also access the hamburger menu from the left, with the now-classic spinning bars-to-arrow animation.  You can have multiple Twitter accounts signed in at once, and you can actually have  their tweets and timelines show in the same feed, so you don’t have to switch between accounts.  That is, unless you want to, which there’s a setting to allow (the separation of accounts, that is).  Tweetings takes a new look at Twitter and offers it to users, so it’s definitely one to look at, for the same price as Talon at $4 USD.

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Which of these is your favorite-looking apps featuring Material Design  Which app is your favorite that you think deserves a spot on the list?  Which app are you holding out for getting Material reDesigned in the near future?  Let us know down below.