Google Explains Why Its Design Changes Weren't Dubbed "Material Design 2" – I/O 2018

material design

Google made a ton of announcements at Google I/O this week, including some that were part of the developer keynote yesterday afternoon. A smaller part of that keynote was indeed its changes to Material Design. Leading to the developer conference, a good number of the leaks indicated that it might be called “Material Design 2” but that’s not the case. When asked about it, Google’s VP of Design, Matias Duarte, informed us that the team did not want to invalidate the original Material Design guidelines. As those are still part of the system, but instead wanted to show that it is evolving. Duarte also jokingly said that “product naming is hard”, but the real gist of this is that it’s an evolution of the original version of Material Design, thus naming it Material Design 2, just didn’t make sense.

Material Design actually debuted back in 2014 – which believe it or not, was nearly four years after Duarte joined the team. Since then it has evolved quite a bit over the years. However, one of the issues that Duarte and his team encountered with Material Design, was the fact that it did not cater to every brands needs. This was largely because there was a pre-selected list of colors available for you to use. Whereas now, the team allows developers to input a HEX code and get the exact color to match its brand. Essentially making Material Design much more customizable. In fact, the team likes to say that it is “infinitely customizable, with guardrails”. Meaning that you can customize it as much as you want, there’s infinite possibilities, but there are somethings you can’t do with Material Design.

The whole announcement for the design team at Google I/O this week was the fact the theming engine, “Material Theme Engine”. It’s a pretty simple tool for developers to use, allowing developers to essentially plug in their colors and get a material design theme for their app. This is going to make it much easier for developers to adopt Material Design in apps going forward. This is something that the team is also pretty proud of. Noting that when it released Material Design back in 2014, it was lacking a lot of what it has now. Back in 2014, Google lacked a cohesive design across all of its products. Some could argue that is still the case, but it’s not quite the same thing.


Duarte iterated that as a designer, his work is never done, and also stated that you’ll see more frequent updates to Material Design in the coming months. This doesn’t mean that the team will be rolling out comprehensive changes that affect all of its guidelines, but instead rolling out components and such that can be updated easier with affecting an entire app or website (if it’s a web service versus an app on Android). The mission of Material Design hasn’t changed here, and that mission is to “help people make more beautiful, more usable things” and with the addition of the Material Theme Engine, the design team has done just that.