After all the predictable speculation about new features, discussions about troublesome bugs, and complaints about unsatisfactory upgrades, Android Lollipop 5.0 is finally here. Most (if not all) Nexus phones now have received their over-the-air update, and the other major manufacturers are either mid-rollout or about to start.
One of the biggest selling points about Lollipop is its design overhaul. Gone are the dark tones and electric blue effects, replaced with the use of ample white space, smooth transitions, and grid based layouts — branded as “Material Design”. The fresh approach is designed to give users a consistent look and feel across all their applications. Although Google has published Material Design style guidelines, many apps are still awaiting their latest upgrades and still have the look of Android KitKat.
Here we look at some of the best apps that have already been restyled using the concept of Material Design.
Pushbullet is the biggest rival to the hugely popular Airdroid. While they do perform slightly differently, their core purpose is the same: to enable easier sharing and offer a more unified experience between your PC, Mac, tablet, and phone.
It received its Material Design overhaul with its version 15 update, and that has recently been polished with the v15.2.5 release. It now features a floating action button in the lower right-hand corner, stacked layers, and a more visually-pleasing way to push notifications and files.
Custom icon packs are a quick and simple way to give your smartphone or tablet a facelift. The choices are endless — with sport themes, rustic themes, black and white icons, and pure design-based concepts all available.
The Moonshine Icon Pack is particularly impressive both for the breadth of icons available (there are over 660 to choose from!) and the fact that they released the Material Design upgrade in late October, before the official roll-outs had started. Their icons have all been flattened, had their shadow length increased, and had the Lollipop colour palette applied to them — and they look great as a result.
Remember, downloading a pack without a custom launcher won’t allow you to change anything. Popular launchers include Nova Launcher, Smart Launcher 2, GO Launcher EX, Apex Launcher, and ADW Launcher.
Circle for Bitcoin [No Longer Available]
Bitcoin has become hugely popular over the last eighteen months. One of the new breed of crypto-currencies, the software-based online payment system has seen its value soar — with one Bitcoin being worth as much as $900 USD in late 2013.
Circle is the best-looking app for managing Bitcoins on your Android device; it was overhauled in November and now features the full Material Design interface. The redesign has had the effect of appearing to simplify many of the off-putting confusing technical aspects of the concept, making it a good choice for Bitcoin newbies and experienced traders alike.
Features include a way to send Bitcoins via email, the ability to add bank accounts and credit cards for easy transactions, payment-free conversions, and Bitcoin invoicing.
All of Google’s native apps have received the Material Design treatment, and staples such as Gmail, Keep, Calendar, and Google Plus now not only all look great but are also much easier to use. The standout app from the new batch, however, is arguably Google Play Music.
The features of the free app are impressive: the ability to upload 20,000 songs from your own music collection so that they can be played back on any device, an iTunes-esque way to buy new music, and a way to save your songs and playlists for offline playback.
The redesign has made the whole app more intuitive, with libraries, playlists, instant mixes, and the shop now all available from the slide-out menu bar, and a way to Chromecast located in the top right. Even the way the menu icon transforms into an arrow when you’re using the menu has been thoughtfully planned out.
Christmas is coming, which means even those for whom cooking means beans on toast might be forced into the kitchen to help peel sprouts and chop potatoes.
With that in mind, the makers of Asparagus – My Cookbook have jumped aboard the Material Design bandwagon to make sure their app is looking great for the festive season. Sporting Lollipop’s modern, colourful, and simple interface, the app is now compatible with all of Android 5.0’s features and makes good use of them.
Features include recipe clipping, cloud backup, and multi-device syncing. It’s even compatible with Android Wear and Pebble Smartwatch, meaning that if you get one for Christmas, you’ll be able to cook Christmas dinner with Asparagus on your wrist!
Stylised as being “the front page of the Internet”, Reddit is the most widely-used bulletin board/article discussion/chat forum website on the Internet. It’s the 36th most visited site in the world and has 174 million users (as of November 2014).
The first Reddit client for Android that has rebranded with Material Design is Reddit News Free. The app now boasts multiple themes, stories, comments that load at the same time, improved navigation, and multiple account support.
All of this combined with the new, sleek Material Design means it’s an extremely viable alternative to the more popular Reddit is Fun and BaconReader for Reddit.
The New Year is just around the corner, and that only means one thing: New Year’s resolutions! Research in the UK last year found that the top three most common resolutions were lose weight, get fit, and eat more healthily. If you’re planning to chase that holy trinity in 2015 and you want to avoid falling at the first hurdle, you’re going to need some help.
There are lots of online tools to help you keep your resolutions, but a good first step would be to download Virtuagym’s Calorie, Carb and Fat Counter app. The app will ask you some questions about your lifestyle and goals, then give you a personalised nutrition plan for you to stick to. It features an expert-approved food database, nutrition tracking, and monitors carbs, proteins, and fats as well as the typical calories.
The app syncs with Virtuagym’s other app, Fitness – Home and Gym Workouts, which hosts 1,200 exercises, a 3D-animated personal trainer, and 30 trackable fitness variables. When used in conjunction, the two apps will leave you no excuses for failing to achieve those healthy goals!
Both apps have received the Material Design makeover, meaning they work seamlessly and look flawless against the Android Lollipop OS.
With a 4.5 star rating from more than 13,000 reviews, Flud is one of the most reliable torrent downloaders for Android. There are no limits on upload and download speeds, there’s RSS feed support, magnet link support, and lots of smaller features that make the app so easy to use.
Thanks to Material Design it’s also one of the best looking torrent downloaders. A new release on November 23rd saw Lollipop principles applied, with a redesigned menu, easier to find features, and new approach to monitoring download progress.
What are you favourites?
Which apps do you think have best exploited the new Android Lollipop style? Do you even like Material Design, or did you prefer the old look of Android 4.x?
We’d love to hear from you — leave your comments in the box below.