Josh Topolsky interviews Android lead designer Matias Duarte

Wed, Oct 19, 2011


This is My Next has a great and wide-ranging interview with Google’s Matias Duarte, who you might recognize as the design genius behind Danger, Helio, and more recently Palm where he helped design and develop its highly regarded WebOS.

These days, Duarte works for Google and helped shape Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.

“Android is the new machine. It represents that new type of potential for computer / human interaction. Mobile is exciting because it breaks us out of this stodgy stuff that we’ve been looking at for two decades,” he’s worked up, “Two decades of windows, and cursors, and little folder icons!”

“Finally people’s minds are being cracked open, so now the question is, what are we going to do with that momentum?”

This isn’t a design or product question. It’s a philosophical question. What is this thing? What is itsupposed to do? How will it do it? How do we get there? I ask him if it was the first time anyone at Google had ever asked that question.

“I don’t think anybody ever asked about the soul,” he answers in a very matter-of-fact way, “This was my question, it was the question I challenged the team with.”

Also of note is that in designing Android 4.0, Google conducted extensive research, described as a significant undertaking, into how users interacted with their smartphones. What they found isnt’ all that surprising for anyone whose used an Android device before.

“With Android,” Duarte said, “people were not responding emotionally, they weren’t forming emotional relationships with the product. They needed it, but they didn’t necessarily love it.”

And so Google is hoping that Android 4.0 will be able to change all that. You can check out the full interview with Duarte here. It’s highly recommended and really provides some unique insight into the design mantras that fueled Google’s latest mobile offering.



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