Google Doc’s Face Lift: New Design Language Takes Aim at Apple

Google Drive, Apps Will Get A New Look

Mountain View, CA-based Google Inc. announced its all new UI, Material Design, ahead of the launch of Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Now the technology giant is extending Material Design beyond just smartphones and tablets. Google Drive, one of Google’s most important user services, has received an all-new look.

The design changes affect the entire Google Drive interface, as well as influencing the look and feel of Google Docs. Comprised of productivity software meant to rival the pricey Microsoft Office suite of products, namely Word, PowerPoint and Excel, Google Docs is completely free as well as competing services from Amazon, and is hosted on Drive.

Let’s look at the changes to Drive first, before investigating the changes to Docs, Sheets and Slides, the MS Office-like programs it hosts. The Drive redesign starts with a big blue toolbar that allows quick and easy access to all your past documents. The strip also always you to sort through your documents in alphabetical order: A-Z or vice-versa.

There’s also no Create button, and no My Drive, Shared with Me, Starred, Recent, Trash, or More drop down buttons. In fact, the entire left panel is obliterated in favor of a single drop-down button on the blue toolbar. The only element that isn’t affected is the Google Status bar which allows users to access their services (Gmail, Docs, Photos etc.), their notifications, and their Google+ page, among others.

When it comes to Docs (Word’s rival), Sheets (Excel’s rival), and Slides (PowerPoint’s rival), one of the most powerful changes is its most simple. A fairly large, circular button is added to the lower right hand corner of Docs, Sheets and Slides. It changes color based on which program you are using. It’s blue in Docs, green in Sheets, and yellow in Slides. The toolbar also changes color in accordance with the program you switch to.

Fast Company Design says, “In essence, Material Design turns user interface into a physical object–a paper that seem to stretch, bounce, and gravitate.” This paper, so to speak, won’t be confused for an actual sheet of 8 1/2 by 11 anytime soon, but it does offer intriguing possibilities.

Despite a trend to mimic real-life objects, one of Google Drive’s biggest UI overhauls is purely sci-fi. Upon entering their Drive, users can scroll through personal documents or shared documents to infinity, thanks to “endlessly expandable, white cards.”

These UI changes, inspired by real world physical objects, are currently available for users to try out on Android and iOS based tablets, smartphones, and smartwatches. And of course, the Mac and Windows based laptops and desktops are covered as well. The desktop and laptop Drive interface update hasn’t arrived on everyone’s computer at this time, though.

But if Google truly wants to bring all of the Material Design changes in Android 5.0, namely complex animations, to various tablets, phones, laptops, and desktops, a lot of CPU horsepower will be required to make sure that each device offers the same user experience, according to Fast Co. Design.

Read more on the changes on the Google Drive blog.

You can try out the new Google Drive changes by clicking here.

[Image Courtesy of Behance]