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Google's Duarte: iPhone UI is "heavy and burdensome"

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Google's Duarte: iPhone UI is
Google's VP of design, Matias Duarte, said in a recent interview that the iPhone's UI is "heavy and burdensome." The grid of app icons has barely changed since the device was unveiled in January 2007 by Steve Jobs. The executive points out how random icon placement is by saying that he is tempted to organize the apps on his phone by color. Talking about the typical smartphone and tablet interface, Duarte says that he finds it hard to believe that the solution devised 30-years ago for desktop PCs will remain the best choice for consumers forever.

Android Wear, forced by the small watch screen to be different, could be on the path to an answer. But Duarte says, "I don't know that Android Wear has the right solution or even is on a vector to the right solution, nobody knows," He adds, "We're just trying things to see which are successful. That's what design is. You form a thesis, you try to do it without any ego or hubris."

Duarte has started a "design incubator" at Google, looking to implement new changes in design both inside the company and outside of it. Material Design, which started with Android 5.0, was one of the first major changes that he brought to the table at Google. He now is working on Android Wear, which as we pointed out, is forced to move away from the typical row of app icons.

While he does seem a bit frustrated, Google's design chief knows that in the bigger picture, the smartphone is just in the first inning of a nine-inning game. "When we talk about phones and websites and apps, this is an incredibly young medium still," Duarte says. "It's changing very quickly and it's still almost at this raw industrial state."


source: Wired via BGR

62 Comments
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posted on 29 Dec 2015, 17:38 17

1. darkkjedii (Posts: 22128; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


The iPhone UI is nice looking, but boring, opening notifications and control center bring it to life though. The widgets in notifications being split from the actual notifications themselves is cool, but IOS sorely needs a visual overhaul...let's not kid ourselves. Samsungs theme store should be copied by Apple, and in a blatant manner.

I change themes very often, it keeps the device looking fresh, and helps to avoid the stagnant feeling. The iPhone is great device, but the UI looks like Richard Simmons...outdated.

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 17:56 2

5. Diezparda (Posts: 874; Member since: 23 Oct 2013)


Indeed. The idea comes from jailbroken iOS.

You should try HTC theme store, they have plenty of themes collection & personally i think it looks more mature. It's fully customizable from the color accent to the icon and even the sounds, mix whichever suit you.

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 19:04 9

20. darkkjedii (Posts: 22128; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


HTC may actually have the nicest looking UI. It's very pretty, and eye catching. Apple tends to focus on the core functionality, and forgets that people are attracted to visual appeals. You get a great device, but the compromise is a boring one.

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 19:25

22. Diezparda (Posts: 874; Member since: 23 Oct 2013)


I couldn't agree more. They need to refresh overall looks, like they do with iOS 7. Themes are really welcome but i wish they allow us to rearrange the apps placement anywhere we like, i personally like to put the apps at the bottom of the screen.

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 19:43 3

25. darkkjedii (Posts: 22128; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


Yeah, ios can be quite restrictive.

posted on 30 Dec 2015, 15:00

54. Intrepid_wiz (Posts: 28; Member since: 30 Dec 2015)


True that

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 22:57 1

37. Tejas9 (Posts: 95; Member since: 02 Feb 2015)


Nicely put man.

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 18:28 8

14. TechieXP1969 (Posts: 10700; Member since: 25 Sep 2013)


The problem with the iPhone UI is it was designed to work with one button. With very few alternative means of interaction, the UI simply can't evolve beyond what it is now.

Maybe Force Touch will help as basically have invisible buttons to maybe create other optics for things to happen in the UI.

posted on 30 Dec 2015, 01:57

43. Iodine (Posts: 1351; Member since: 19 Jun 2014)


Yeah just one button.
Something that Jobs boasted about as one of the best features.

But today, you do gestures to app switching and going to home screen, access siri by calling her... You mostly use it for unlocking the device by touch ID, but what will happen if that's going to get integrated into the Retina display ?

How many buttons the Apple watch got ?
Apple has always been about eliminating excessive parts aggresivelly, the moment they can make a buttonless iPhone, they'll do it.

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 19:37 2

24. AlikMalix (Posts: 6298; Member since: 16 Jul 2014)


Another thing Google is copying from Apple - Talk crap about competition, at least Apple talks about facts, like Fragmentation... This guy is being subjective. If everyone really agreed with him (not everyone here - we're nerds) than apple would not sell more and more phones every year...

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 20:30 16

29. shuaibhere (Posts: 1986; Member since: 07 Jul 2012)


Again don't talk about sales...people will buy anything apple sells to them ....because of the brand...

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 22:04 10

34. NoToFanboys (Posts: 1960; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


Especially in third world countries.
While many people like iOS because of simplicity, ecosystem etc, A LOT of people in our country buys iPhones for the logo, social status.

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 23:58

38. Diezparda (Posts: 874; Member since: 23 Oct 2013)


Also happen in Indonesia, people just following the trend. Back when Barack Obama made BB device so popular our people buy it for no good reason (old BB device like bold/storm & dakota was laggy, expensive, the battery life is pathetic, below average camera yet people buy it).

iPhone was consider luxurious, yes in Indonesia it much more expensive than Samsung, LG, Sony flagship, so it somewhat true, some people (in 3rd world country) will buy it for social status.

posted on 30 Dec 2015, 09:14

52. Augustine (Posts: 1043; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)


Indeed, cases for the iPhone are probably the only ones that have a cut out to show the phone brand.

Happy New Year!

posted on 30 Dec 2015, 15:03 1

55. Intrepid_wiz (Posts: 28; Member since: 30 Dec 2015)


I couldn't agree more

posted on 30 Dec 2015, 23:37

56. MANOFSTEEL (Posts: 75; Member since: 25 Nov 2015)


There's many reasons people buy Iphones over Androids and the most important is that IPhones really works. The levels of support Apple provides to all their products can't be compared and is not even close from any Android vendor starting from Samsung who's the No 1 Android

posted on 31 Dec 2015, 04:43 1

57. NoToFanboys (Posts: 1960; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


You obviously don't get my point.

posted on 30 Dec 2015, 00:24 2

39. AlikMalix (Posts: 6298; Member since: 16 Jul 2014)


I guess that's your opinion. Everyone I met - loves using an iOS device.

posted on 31 Dec 2015, 10:18

58. JMartin22 (Posts: 1984; Member since: 30 Apr 2013)


Why are you so ardently steadfast about validating OS selection. We get it, you like iOS and we get that Apple's brand and services has a following of its own.

posted on 31 Dec 2015, 21:20 1

60. AlikMalix (Posts: 6298; Member since: 16 Jul 2014)


Because there are bunch of you that try their darnest best to INvalidate my OS selection... They're all full of hate for iOS at the core, and in effect put iOS users down, where having any tech conversation or even argument is stupid on tech forums... If I mention something I didnt like about iOS - it gets thrown back at me and other iOS users for the next year, but a multiplied and overexagerated version. A few people complain about some bug on iOS - I see link for it as proof that iOS is just useless sucky garbage etc. for years - even though Apple patched it in couple of weeks...

I know people visit this site, some by searching online for an answer... but when they see untrue negativity from these dorks... they think it's like that througout the ecosystem... Just want to ballance it off a bit..

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 20:36 2

30. NoToFanboys (Posts: 1960; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


I definitely don't agree with him, while iOS become heavier as they add more features, it is still light compared to android.

posted on 30 Dec 2015, 03:39 2

44. Zylam (Posts: 844; Member since: 20 Oct 2010)


Samsung wasn't the first to implement a theme store, custom roms, mainly cyanogenmod did it for Android. Sense had it for years too.

Before that Symbian had it. But yea Should just look.at the jail broken community that's had themes since the original iPhone.

posted on 30 Dec 2015, 13:27

53. true1984 (Posts: 825; Member since: 23 May 2012)


yep, since the evo 3d

posted on 30 Dec 2015, 09:00

51. talon95 (Posts: 590; Member since: 31 Jul 2012)


There's nothing nice looking about that mess of icons.
The notifications drawers from Android are the only thing it has going for it.

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 17:40 27

2. Planterz (Posts: 2103; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


Maybe in a few years Apple will revolutionize the smartphone world with the amazing new concept of 3rd party launchers that allow people to customize how their UI looks and operates.

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 17:48 6

4. Arch_Fiend (Posts: 2713; Member since: 03 Oct 2015)


They'll likely change the name while they're at it, there's no way they just call them 3rd party launchers lol. just create A new app store called Apple ui store that way they don't have to think of A cool name Ha.

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 18:06

7. jeroome86 (Posts: 1379; Member since: 12 Apr 2012)


Hope not. Apple needs to fresh up the interface some. Hate the way you arrange icons and push something where you didn't want it. But kinda got tired of all the customization on Note 3 and just put Google now launcher on it and left it alone. But got both bases covered if I get bored with iOS.

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 17:47 9

3. aurabass (Posts: 1; Member since: 29 Dec 2015)


I hate apple with a passion but those are big words coming from the OS that requires 2+ gigs of ram to run smoothly but to be fair a lot of times it's because of OEMs putting their own skin on top of stock android

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 18:14 9

10. MrElectrifyer (Posts: 3323; Member since: 21 Oct 2014)


"requires 2+ gigs of ram to run smoothly"

Tell that to the Galaxy S2 (bit.ly/1mhbOOg)...sorry make that the S1 running Lollipop (bit.ly/1HHPYJ2), it seems to have forgotten about that rule...or it probably never existed.

posted on 29 Dec 2015, 20:51 1

32. Tsoliades (Posts: 228; Member since: 22 Dec 2012)


Neither of those are exactly running smoothly.

While I would disagree with his overall sentiment, he's not wrong. iOS runs incredibly smoothly with a very small amount of RAM.

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