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Google library updates will help developers bring Material Design to pre-Lollipop devices

Google has announced new updates to AppCompat and other libraries, which will give developers the tools needed to better bring Material Design elements to pre-Lollipop devices.
October 22, 2014

We were first introduced to Material Design back at Google I/O, and since then we’ve seen a number of Google’s apps slowly make changes that better fit in line with Google’s new design guidelines. Beyond that, a number of 3rd party developers have also taken inspiration from MD in the recent months and introduced changes that reflect these guidelines.

Now with the Android 5.0 SDK out and Lollipop’s final release just around the corner, Google is doing even more to ensure developers can bring Material Design goodness to all their apps, regardless of whether or not the device is running Android 5.0. To that end, Google has now announced it is expanding their support libraries and introducing a major update to AppCompat (version 21), as well as new RecyclerView, CardVidew and Palette libraries in order to “enable [developers] to bring [their] latest designs to older Android platforms”.

Among AppCompat’s changes is a new Toolbar widget, which Google describes as “a generalization of the Action Bar pattern that gives you much more control and flexibility. Toolbar is a view in your hierarchy just like any other, making it easier to interleave with the rest of your views, animate it, and react to scroll events. You can also set it as your Activity’s action bar, meaning that your standard options menu actions will be display within it.”

While these changes really will only interest developers, end users should know that this means that the people that build your favorites apps now have better tools and libraries that will allow them to integrate the Material Design look and feel, even if you happen to have a phone that will never see the Lollipop update officially. For more details on the changes to AppCompat and other libraries, you’ll want to check out Android’s developer blog.