Google Android’s VP of design says Apple’s iPhone interface is ‘heavy and burdensome’

“Google’s Matias Duarte has a problem. In the next ten years he wants to replace the computer on your desk and the phone in your pocket with a smart, continuous mesh of information. But to do that, he’s got to fundamentally change how everyone interacts with technology,” James Temperton reports for Wired UK. “‘I see what we’re doing now in this digital interactive space as a kind of industrial revolution,’ Duarte, Google’s vice president of design, tells WIRED. ‘But there’s a real risk, there’s a real risk of stagnation.'”

“Radically overhauling the design of our digital devices is no small task. Eight years on from the launch of the original iPhone we’re still using rows of apps and touchscreen rectangles. And many of the design conventions our smartphones and tablets rely on are more than 30 years old,” Temperton reports. “All phone and tablet design since the iPhone has mimicked it to some extent. Duarte describes this as a ‘crystallizing moment,’ a key inflection point in hardware and software design. But Apple’s success was never guaranteed. ‘Frankly it’s not a world where the best package wins. It would’ve been very easy, if Apple had been a year later to market, that instead the market’s expectations of what a smartphone should be crystallised around something that’s more like what the Blackberry was.'”

MacDailyNews Take: A BlackBerry would have been better? Puleeze. Duarte’s sour grapes perfectly explain:

Google Android before and after Apple iPhone

Sorry, you got blindsided by the future and the antiquated BlackBerry knockoff you were working on had to be tossed onto the ash heap of history while Google frantically switched to trying to knock off the iPhone, cutting many corners in the process, Matias.

“Apple’s victory, and the subsequent success of the iPhone was a ‘fairly positive’ moment,” Temperton reports. “‘But it also crystallised a lot of other things that were kind of stayed even by that point, like the rows of icons, which don’t scale very well. This idea of a tiny grid that you manually curate starts to feel very heavy and burdensome.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Duarte is correct that user interfaces often live far longer than they should. And, yes, in some ways the iOS (and watchOS and tvOS and OS X) interfaces are “heavy and burdensome.” They’re also, overall, the best in each of their classes. Apple simply makes the best personal computer, smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, and set-top box user interfaces available today. We hope the post-Steve Jobs Apple can come up with the answers required to continue moving forward because we don’t want to have to trade our personal data and sacrifice our privacy to Alphabet Inc. et al. in order to avoid stagnation.

How Google reacted when Steve Jobs revealed the revolutionary iPhone – December 19, 2013
Why Google really, truly, deeply hates Apple – May 30, 2014
Prior to Steve Jobs unveiling of Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android didn’t support touchscreen input – April 14, 2014
Before iPhone, Google’s plan was a Java button phone, Android docs reveal – April 14, 2014
How Google reacted when Steve Jobs revealed the revolutionary iPhone – December 19, 2013
Apple to ITC: Android started at Apple while Andy Rubin worked for us – September 2, 2011

[Attribution: Cult of Android. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


    1. Android lets the user create their own user interface, so I fail to see how they’re copying Apple.

      I mean you can use widgets on your homescreen to get the information most important to you at a glance without having to open any apps up. And then Apple started doing that a couple years later…

      Wait who’s copying who again?

      1. To say Apple copied Android is to completely overlook Apple’s decades of OS and GUI development. Most of Androids “features” appeared elsewhere first, including widgets, which many could argue that Apple had with its original Mac OS in the form of desktop accessories.

        Android doesn’t let others create their own UI, they create skins on top of Android’s UI. That’s a big difference. Again, the classic Mac OS “allowed” pretty much the same thing as well.

        But that’s not the argument; Android moved from a “point and click” UI paradigm borrowed from the desktop to direct manipulation UI borrowed from iOS.

        1. Desk accessories were developed to provide a small degree of multitasking in early MacOS. When multitasking became available there where no need for them.

          It had little to do with modern desktop widgets.

        2. Actually the first OS to use widgets was Linux back in 1999. Android is essentially a mobile distro of Linux. So in a sense, Android had it first since it was one of the features ported from desktop to phone when Android was developed.

          And it’s not just widgets, neither is it the OS itself either. It’s also device specific features.

          I mean I have a Note 2 which was released in 2012. It’s a phablet, and it also has a capacitive stylus. At first iPhone users scoffed at the idea of lugging around such a huge phone, but then Apple released the iPhone 6+ 2 years later which was pretty much the exact same size and suddenly it was the next big thing. Same goes for the pen. Most of what Apple comes up with these days, Android users have had for years now.

          Just wait. Android just got mobile VR support. So I’ll bet Apple will have their own VR headgear for the iPhone in 2017 or 2018. Seriously. Come back to this comment 2 years from now. I’m willing to put money on it.

  1. Google must mean the technology must be brainless and AI infested with their own brand of invasive and self-serving personal data stealing and ad-enriched “help.”

    Please keep it oh so “heavy & burdensome” if it keeps the disingenuous Google wolves away.

    1. I am pretty sure that what makes iOS seem burdensome to Google is the “barriers” Apple puts in the way of Google’s Peeping Tom business model that seeks to track every aspect of our lives. Apple places a priority on respecting and helping to protect their customers privacy. Google makes most of their billions of $$$ by mining data from your private life and selling it, or using it to offer you “services”.

  2. I have to agree that the task of sorting and collecting apps into a way that works for me IS a bit burdensome. I want alias’ and things of the sort so I can have apps in multiple categories. Search works great but sometimes I need to browse and ‘browsing’ on an iPhone (and much worse on a crap Droid as I unfortunately know from experience) is no easy or enjoyable task. Curating ones own app list SHOULD be a thing of the past. However, based on some recent patent filings I think Apple intends to do just that.

    1. “the task of sorting and collecting apps into a way that works for me IS a bit burdensome ”

      I can understand that if you’re constantly changing the way you organize your apps, but I find the opposite to be true. It’s extremely easy to locate apps on my phone.

      The apps I use most are on the main screen. All others are in categorized (in alphabetically ordered) folders on the second screen. There is very little overhead in “maintaining” my apps; I download a new app, I drag it to the appropriate location. Done!

      It’s ironic that the direction iOS is headed is exactly how the Mac OS began; start out as simple as possible and then add features as they become necessary in order to make the user (and system) more efficient at performing certain tasks.

      1. Problem is that some apps can be in multiple categories, or you want an icon in the bottom right without all other icon positions filled first.

        There’s also merit in having a separate, single listing of all installed apps, in case you forgot which folder you stored a long-ago downloaded app.

        1. Spot on, the more you have, the more you rely on your memory to determine how you defined particular Aps and thus which folder you put them in which themselves can look quite similar, so you are continually having to read their labels. Must be a better solution.

          1. Not really, that lists all apps you’ve ever downloaded using the current AppleID, even if it’s never been on the current device. And it seems to be sorted by last-downloaded/updated, with no way to list alphabetically.

            Was thinking more of an app list where you can then add an icon for (e.g. reference or alias) to the current Homescreen page and. Much like how Android does it, but conceptually identical to the one-to-many concept Apple has used for over a decade in its Libraries vs Albums/Playlists in Photos and iTunes.

  3. I’m sorry but this guy is an idiot! IOS is the best in the industry and the safest compared to Androids 99% malware infested mess with no upgradability. Go write something else when you have some facts to back up your writing but there is nothing to see here.

    1. I would like to give you BRAINWASHRED BY APPLE tag, but I am not that rude.

      I personaly think iOS’s security is mostly based around better protection in the past.

      And before you say anythng, I plan on buying iPad and I am writing this on my Windows Phone

      1. Your Windows Phone didn’t autocorrect BRAINWASHRED to brainwashed. It also didn’t correct personaly to personally. And your syntax and word usage suggests a Korean origin with English as a second language, and your “plan” to buy iPad isn’t fooling anyone, either.

  4. So if Blackberry was the best then why do they not exist anymore Duarte? Because they had the worst interface with buttons that didn’t make sense and the old I have to go 10 levels down to get to my contacts. Please if you think there’s was the best then they should fire you right now! This guy doesn’t have a clue for sure.

  5. I basically curate my own apps by creating folders and then titling them according to my needs with over 180 apps on my phone I use only two pages due to these folders my four-year-old granddaughter appreciates The simplicity and goes to her folders only and leaves mine alone

  6. If this Google VP of design is correct, why do millions of people every week pay top dollars, pounds, yen etc… for an Apple Inc. iOS device; lest I forget, this has continued unabated for over 8 years now!!

    Absolute and utter rubbish!

  7. I agree that iOS and OS X are not ideal. But it is humorous to hear a Google executive call iOS “heavy and burdensome” — in comparison to what, a theoretical interface for a mesh computing paradigm that does not exist? Sure, that nonexistent brainwave-driven interface will be better.

    We were stuck with the UNIX and Microsoft (very poor UNIX knockoff) command line interface until the Mac came along. Who knows how long it would have taken to break away from the command line without the Mac? A couple of decades later, Apple revolutionizes mobile computing and everyone copies it. Eight years later this idiot has the audacity to criticize it and even to suggest that Apple was lucky in its timing.

    Google beta products arise from Google executive beta thinking. Good luck with that, Mole and company.

    1. He talks about stagnation, but tool interfaces perfected over 10,000 years are mature, not stagnant. His head is up his ass, and his theories contribute only to his masters’ short-term objectives, which are fundamentally antisocial.

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