When Google unveiled Android Lollipop last year, what came with it was the largest design overhaul Android has ever seen. It was dubbed it “Material Design” and was meant to become the design language for all Android apps. However, we are approaching a year after Lollipop’s official release and there are still few apps out there that adhere to Google’s new design guidelines.
In this list, we will take a look at some apps that wonderfully utilized Material Design. Each one was picked to fulfill users basic needs while providing them with a unified Material Design interface.
Weather – Weather Timeline
There are a ton of weather apps that use Material Design, and most of them look amazing. However, Weather Timeline provides the best overall experience when it comes to a weather app. It has the basic features that all weather apps should have such as a 24-hour forecast and a 7-day forecast. There is a very nice radar feature that also makes use of Material Design. Weather Timeline also provides information about moon phases, humidity, dew point, pressure, visibility, and a “feels like” temperature.
One feature that I find interesting is their “Time Machine” which allows you to see weather forecasts weeks, months, and years into the past or future! I cannot vouch for its accuracy several years into the future, but looking ahead a couple of weeks has seemed to be decently accurate. Weather Timeline gives you the options to customize virtually anything you can see in the app. Colors, icons, and more can be tailored to exactly what you want. It even allows you to customize your Android Wear notification.
You can pick up Weather Timeline for an affordable $0.99 in the Play Store and get access to every feature immediately!
Selecting a voice recorder was simple because I had found Wear Audio Recorder earlier this year and it quickly became my go to app for recording audio. Its utilization of Material Design is fantastic with every animation and movement thought out. There are settings for audio quality, audio gain, compression, noise suppression, and more. There is also wonderful Android Wear support (hence the name).
The free version provides basically everything you could need, but the paid version adds a few useful features. In the paid version, you get more control over the Android Wear part of the app as well as automatic backup to the cloud via Dropbox or Google Drive.
You can get Wear Audio Recorder for free from the Play Store and upgrade to the paid version for only $2.99.
Finding an RSS reader for this list proved to be challenging because many apps that claim to use Material Design either do not look good or do not work well. I finally found Palabre, and it was obvious that time had been spent on the design and features for this app. For Feedly users, you will be happy to hear that this app supports full Feedly integration, and all you have to do to get your RSS subscriptions is sign in with your Feedly account.
The app itself is polished and smooth, offering a nice card-style layout for your news stories. You can change how the articles are displayed as well as switch to their slick dark theme. The only problem with this app is that the free version is ad supported. While the adds are not intrusive and simply fit into your news list like another article, they can be annoying if you do not like them. Thankfully, there is an ad-free version that can be upgraded to from within the app.
You can download Palabre for free from the Play Store and upgrade to its ad-free version for $2.47.
Today Calendar is a no brainer when it comes to a calendar app that does an amazing job following the Material Design guidelines. The look, feel, and animations in the app show just what an app can be when it uses Material Design correctly. This app features integration with Google Calendar allowing for an easy switch between the two.
It defaults to a split view which shows the month at the top of the screen and a list of events for a certain day at the bottom. There are also options for an Agenda view, Day view, Week view, and Month view. You can change the two main colors used Today Calendar, but you will need to get the Pro version to take advantage of the Dark theme along with a few other features. The free version includes everything needed to make this app usable and enjoyable, but some may find a few more features worth upgrading for.
You can grab Today Calendar for free in the Play Store or buy the Pro version for $2.99.
Finding the best Material Design music player was not easy because there are quite a few and many of them suffer from a lack of important features. Shuttle is probably the best all-around music player that uses Material Design. It is easy to understand, uses animations and elements that show off Material Design, and has some nice features built into the free version.
You are given the option to change the theme (yes, there is a dark theme), the color, and the accent color. You can also enable a colored status bar. The only main feature missing from the free Shuttle is the option to edit song information from inside the app. You can upgrade to Shuttle+ to get access to this feature and many more. Shuttle+ also give you Chromecast support, which is enough reason to upgrade right there.
You can pick up Shuttle for free in the Play Store and upgrade to Shuttle+ for $1.75.
The official Twitter app for Android is a complete mess, but there are few options out there that provide a good experience plus Material Design. Giza came out of no where, and provides a nice experience with a wonderful Material Design feel. Aside from some visual changes, features like a dark theme and compact timeline, and a simple interface, this app is still undeniably Twitter.
The app itself is free, but unfortunately it is ad supported. The adds are normally seen when viewing other peoples’ profiles, but they are generally unobtrusive banner ads. If you really do not want adds in your app, you can get the ad-free version.
You can download Giza free from the Play Store and upgrade to ad-free for $2.99.
Finding an Instagram app that used Material Design well was not easy, but once we found Imagine, we knew it was the right one. The app itself is nice and minimal, just like Material Design apps should be. There is a floating action button that allows you to add or take a new photo or video. To access things like your profile, activity, or likes, there is a nice slide out menu on the right that holds all of those options.
Everything that is needed to make this a usable Instagram replacement is included in the free version, but if you really want to customize the app, you will need to purchase the Premium version. With Premium, ads are removed, and you are given the option to add multiple accounts, change the theme, enable a colored navigation bar, and view nearby posts. The main problem with this app is that to add photos and videos, you must have the official Instagram app installed on your device too.
You can pick up Imagine for free in the Play Store and upgrade to Premium for $2.49.
There are many file managers out there that use Material Design, but the features that File Explorer offers puts it above the rest. You have basic features such as access to all areas of your file system, view changes (grid, icon, etc), and more. You are able to open multiple locations at one time with the ability to switch between them available in the hamburger menu to the right.
The one feature that proves to be extremely useful is the Split View option. Much like Samsung’s Multi-Window feature, this allows you to view two separate locations on your screen at once. This makes transferring files from one place to another extremely easy. You do not have to switch between places because they are both on your screen. You are also given the option to change the theme and colors in the app. The best part about File Explorer is that all the features are available without purchase.
You can get File Explorer for free in the Play Store.
These eight apps should provide you with great Material Design replacements for apps you use every day, but we are not stopping there. We want to know what other everyday apps you would like a Material Design alternative for. Perhaps a flashlight app or a to do list app? Whatever app you have in mind, let us know down in the comments. And keep an eye out for the next set of Material Design apps to unify your experience.