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Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 10:19 am PT (01:19 pm ET)

Google unveils Android L with colorful new 'Material Design' UI, creating 'depth' within pixels

At its I/O conference on Wednesday, Google took the wraps off Android L, its latest-generation mobile operating system, which has once again been redesigned with a new, colorful look dubbed "Material Design."




Material Design actually goes beyond Android L and represents a new look and feel for all of Google's platforms, extending from phones to tablets and to the Web and desktop. Introduced by Android chief Sundar Pichai as featuring a "fresh, bold and new look," Android L was created with the idea of creating perceived "depth" within pixels.

To allow developers to tap into the new user interface, Android L allows them to specify an "elevation value" for any item within the UI. The operating system then gives correct perspective and proper real-time shadows to that element.




Android L also gives developers the ability to create seamless animations when transitioning between screens. And a new feature called "palette" automatically reads the colors in images to make the user interface around them match.

Material Design comes with new style guidelines for developers for phones, tablets and the Web.

Android L also comes with a new personal unlocking feature, which can allow users to bypass security mechanisms based on a variety of factors. For example, Android L might allow a user to unlock their phone because it knows they are located at home, or because it is connected to a trusted device like a Bluetooth smart watch.




Android L also comes with a new "Extension Pack" that offers what Google claims are "PC gaming" capabilities on high-end smartphones and tablets. To showcase this, the company showcased a demo from developer Epic Games, a company that has also taken the stage to show off mobile titles at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference.

Google also revealed that Android L has a new battery saver mode that can be configured to maximize battery life. Notifications have been improved as well, allowing users to quickly respond to calls or texts while running other apps.




And Android L also has a new feature called "recents" that acts as a place for users to quickly access applications and websites. Open Chrome tabs are listed separately, and any application will be able to have multiple in-app items displayed in this view. Google Search will also now be able to grab information from within applications.

The Android L developer preview will be available for developers Thursday with a system image that will run on the Nexus 5 handset. It will debut on phones and tablets for end users this fall.