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. 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!

  2. 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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