Unveiled in 2021, Material You is Google’s next step in visualizing how Android looks and feels, and builds on the existing Material Design guidelines that have been around since 2014.
Developers have started updating their apps to match the current golden standard. Here’s our guide to some of the best apps that have been updated for Material You.
What Is Material You?
For those uninitiated, Material You is a refreshed version of the Material Design UI that we’ve been enjoying since Android Lollipop. It keeps the core theming guidelines of a formula that worked well in the past and adds to it a splash of personalization.
While Google has emphasized how Material You brings support for devices with different screen sizes, the key feature that we’re excited about is the way the system elements automatically adapt to the dominant colors in a phone’s wallpaper.
Material You allows apps to adapt to the changes in your phone’s wallpaper to match accent colors with the rest of the system elements. Material You is now available for most smartphones running Android 12.
1. Files by Google
A good way to incorporate the new Material You design into your day-to-day usage is to replace your stock apps with the ones Google provides. Files by Google is a handy file manager that does its job with a clean user interface.
Having the edge of Google’s freakishly smart personalized suggestions, the app learns your storage needs over time and recommends how best you can clear your phone up.
Files by Google analyzes all media stored on your phone and puts them into categories such as downloads, large files, and even memes. From here, you’re only a tap away from clearing redundant files that have been clogging up your phone’s storage.
The file manager also has a safe folder where you can store information-sensitive files. While Files by Google doesn’t have a lot going on in terms of colors and UI, it matches well with the system-wide accent color.
Download: Files by Google (Free)
2. Google Messages
If you own a non-Pixel smartphone, chances are that the default messages app installed on it is not one that Google distributes. Among all the useful features in the Messages app by Google, Material You theming is a nice addition.
Messages, unlike Files by Google, is a lot more prominent and bold with displaying your phone’s accent color. And although it has remained quite bare-bones for the longest time, Messages is finally making use of Google’s smart predictions to sort out your inbox into categories such as OTPs, promotional SMS, conversations, and more.
Download: Messages (Free)
Another popular Google app to have received Material You theming is Gboard. Different keyboard apps bring their own set of unique features, but Gboard might well be the one that can replace them all. It’s got everything—customization, swipe typing, emoji kitchen, GIF support, stickers, and much more. All of these little-known Gboard features make it a joy to use.
If that weren’t plenty, Gboard on Android 12 now follows your system’s accent color. This blends in well with the growing number of apps that now support Material You theming.
Download: Gboard (Free)
4. Sleep as Android
It’s time to steer away from apps made by Google and venture into the ones crafted by other developers. Sleep as Android is one of the best sleep tracking apps available on the Play Store. It is a powerful all-in-one sleep companion app that tracks your naps and has wearable support to detect parameters like your heart rate and SpO2 level.
If you have trouble waking up to a single measly alarm every day, Sleep as Android requires a CAPTCHA (or a math quiz) to disable or snooze its alarms. As agonizing as that may sound, it is quite effective.
Sleep as Android takes Google’s Material You theming a little too personal, and we say that in a good way. It legitimately feels like a brand-new app every time you change your wallpaper. Once you log your sleep for the night, you can view various stats to determine your sleep score.
Sleep as Android also has a premium version that unlocks a slew of other features, although the free version should suffice most people.
Download: Sleep as Android (Free, in-app purchases available)
5. Infinity for Reddit
Although it’s a rare sight to see Reddit users agreeing on one thing, it’s safe to say that the official app for Android leaves a lot to be desired. This has given rise to a plethora of third-party Reddit clients, each filling in the gaps that the official app leaves behind. Infinity for Reddit is a near-perfect substitute that brings with it the blessing of Material You theming.
It has a simple interface with most of the options being stuffed away in the hamburger menu. You can sort posts by the usual filters including top, controversial, new, and hot. Infinity also has a “Lazy Mode” that scrolls posts automatically for you.
Unlike most apps on this list, you will have to manually enable Material You theming for Infinity which can be found by navigating to Settings > Theme. The app also has options for customizing the interface, things like increasing content padding, rearranging tabs, and more.
Download: Infinity for Reddit (Free)
Inware is an app designed for the geeks within us. It has pretty much all kinds of information related to your device, be it hardware, or software. If you are someone who cares deeply about specifications and the nitty-gritty, Inware provides a great insight into your device.
Your phone’s screen size, resolution, refresh rate, processor, amount of RAM, battery backup, and camera specifications are just a few parameters that Inware displays. The app also lets you know if your phone supports Project Treble.
Although Inware has a rather uninspiring design, the addition of Material You theming alongside a dark theme makes the otherwise information-heavy app quite fun to use.
Download: Inware (Free)
7. Swift Walls
What’s a better way to end a list talking about design than showcasing a beautiful wallpaper app? Swift Walls uses an unapologetic amount of Material You theming in and around the app, and we’re not complaining.
A feature that stood out the most to us was the option to preview a wallpaper, complete with the change in the accent color, and the ability to see how the wallpaper looks on different home screens. Swift Walls also enables you to quickly tweak your existing wallpaper using filters and blur tools.
Ironically, the one area where the app falls short is in its wallpaper library. Swift Walls is a relatively new app, so we only expect the addition of more wallpapers going forward. Nevertheless, it provides a pleasant wallpaper tweaking experience.
Download: Swift Walls (Free, in-app purchases available)
Make the Most Out of Material You
With time, there is only going to be an increase in the number of apps adopting Material You guidelines. It is quite refreshing to see a fresh coat of paint for Android after years. Material You is a representation of all the customization goodness that Android has offered from the beginning of time, and hopefully always will.
How to Customize Your Android 12 Phone
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