Google I/O 2021 saw the introduction of Google’s next-gen Material design language — dubbed Material You — and it’s not just coming to smartphones. In fact, according to recent reports, the Material You design language is also coming to Chromebooks.
What is Material You and what does it mean for Chromebooks?
Now, Material You is being introduced as part of Android 12 and, outside of Chromebooks, it’s a fairly straightforward concept. As might be expected from a complete UI overhaul, it effectively works as an automatic theming service.
As shown at Google I/O, Material You utilizes ‘color science’ to match theming elements on a smartphone to the colors used in the users’ selected wallpapers. So colors found in the wallpaper or those that accent those will be utilized across the smartphone in on-screen elements. Among Google’s examples of how that would work, the company showcased a Material You-themed calculator app. Using colors from the wallpaper, that app was essentially redesigned with pinks, purples, and yellows to match the wallpaper.
Those kinds of changes, eventually, will be applied across the board. So that app UI and system UI is re-themed with each wallpaper change.
Exactly how that might appear on Chromebooks, however, remains to be seen. While Android and Chrome OS do share some similarities, the apps — unless downloaded from the Google Play Store — really don’t. The UI at the system level isn’t altogether similar either. And that makes it difficult to guess how the change will appear on Chromebooks. Presumably, the changes will occur at a system-wide level, just as they do on Android.
When is this coming?
As noted above, Material You was officially unveiled as part of the Android 12 announcements, and officially announced for Chromebooks. But that doesn’t necessarily make it easy to determine when Chrome OS gadgets will see the change.
Chromebooks currently utilize Android 9 pie. And while there has been speculation over the past two years about an update to a new version, that has yet to materialize in the real world. Android 12 has been under testing on Chromebooks since at least early 2021. The search giant hasn’t, as of this writing and as per Google I/O 2021, provided any further details on the matter either. So it could be a long way out still or just around the corner.