Google+ Designed by Former Apple Engineer

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Google has been winning praise for the clean look and feel for its new Google+ social networking platform, and it turns out the company tapped an Apple legend to head the project. Andy Hertzfeld, an Apple veteran and a member of the legendary team of designers and engineers that created the original Mac, is the design leader for the project.

In an in-depth piece for Wired by Steven Levy, author of the recent book about Google called In The Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives, Mr. Hertzfeld told the magazine, “I’ve heard in the past that Larry Page he didn’t like animations but that didn’t stop me from putting in a lot of animations in, and Larry told me he loves it. Maybe Apple’s resurgence had a little bit to do with it.”

Mr. Hertzfeld said that before this project, he had felt constrained working for Google because of the company’s design standards, which are often described as minimalist. He was allowed to think differently about Google+, which was codenamed “Emerald Sea,” and he said, “It wasn’t a given that anyone would like what I was doing, but they did.”

Which may be why Mr. Levy wrote in his piece that, “Circles looks more like a classic Apple program than the typically bland Google app.”

For instance, let’s look at the home page of Google+:

Google+ Screenshot

Google+ Home Page Screenshot
(Click the image for a larger version) 

That is definitely a design aesthetic that is more reminiscent of Apple than, say, the Google home page.

Mr. Levy also wrote about animations in the the Circles portion of Google+, noting that the, “animation adds a few hundred milliseconds to the task; in the speed-obsessed Google world that’s like dropping War and Peace on a reading list.”

Google CEO Larry Page signed off on Mr. Hertzfeld’s work, however, including the animation and general design aesthetic.

Comments

Lee Dronick

I couldn’t visit the site https://plus.google.com if entered the address into Safari on my iPad, I get a server not responding. No problem from Safari on my MacBook Pro.

Anyway, I took the tour though it isn’t very comprehensive, but of course it is still beta. It certainly is more aesthetically pleasing to me than Facebook.

Dorje Sylas

The circles are interesting. I’ve ranted for a long time that “Friending” on social networks is a total misnomer. The vast majority are acquaintances at best, people you’ve meet once at worst. Most of them you don’t want to have access to information you give your real friends. Unfortunately most social site’s I’ve looked at don’t make that distinction or don’t make it very well. Facebook is a good example of how information can leak about like gossip at an old lady’s quilting party.

If Google can get better control over how you allow your information to shared I’m all for it. One reason I stay away from Facebook is how fast and loose they play that control. I fully realize Google’s going to data mine the ever loving tar out of Google+, but at the same time I hope that they are the only one’s doing it and not 3rd parties (vengeful ex-significant others) looking for dirt.

Ross Edwards

I got an invite to the beta, and I like it so far.  It’s like Facebook, but without all the adspam crap.  And I definitely like being able to separate friends from acquaintances, family from others, et cetera.

Added bonuses are that your photos are also a Picasa album, and your videos are a Youtube channel.  That suits me just fine since that’s how I’d like to share them online anyway.

I’m not sure what kind of staying power g+ is going to have in the long run, but right now signs are good.

Substance

As much as I have concerns about Google products, especially when it comes to my long-term privacy, FaceBook makes Google look like saints.  I’m more than happy to see something come along and push FaceBook around.  Everything I’m hearing about Google+ is promising, from its correct implementation of tiered friend groups through circles to its leverging of existing open-to-the-Web technologies like YouTube.  Best of all is that - so far - it doesn’t seem like a piece of adware posing as a Web app.  How often can you say that about Google?

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