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+ 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.