Everything that I see about Android 5.0 seems to reference “material design” and imply that it is a major part of the new version of Android. I don’t know what material design is, and at this point I’m afraid to ask.
It’s really just the name for a unified design theme to try to make Android more visually attractive and consistent in appearance across devices. There is obviously more to it than that, and I’m sure someone with more knowledge than I have could explain the impact of the design choices, colors, etc. on the user experience.
This is how Google describes it:
“A material metaphor is the unifying theory of a rationalized space and a system of motion. The material is grounded in tactile reality, inspired by the study of paper and ink, yet technologically advanced and open to imagination and magic.
Surfaces and edges of the material provide visual cues that are grounded in reality. The use of familiar tactile attributes helps users quickly understand affordances. Yet the flexibility of the material creates new affordances that supercede those in the physical world, without breaking the rules of physics.
The fundamentals of light, surface, and movement are key to conveying how objects move, interact, and exist in space and in relation to each other. Realistic lighting shows seams, divides space, and indicates moving parts.”