Let's get the preliminary question off the plate first: who is Matias Duarte? Well for one thing, he oversaw the designing of a few small projects such as webOS, Sidekick OS, and Helio (the little carrier that could... be bought out). And, oh yeah, he also played a large part in Honeycomb's development.
Yesterday he sat down with Joshua Topolsky of This is my Next (soon to be The Verge) to discuss the "philosophy" of Android and, more specifically, Ice Cream Sandwich. It certainly provides some interesting insight into the man behind ICS' fancy new UI, and while we highly recommend you read the full interview, we'll be providing a few highlights below so as to save you some time (the unabridged version is quite lengthy).
- "Honeycomb was ... [an] emergency landing" - in response to Josh's first question, Matias explained that when he first signed onto Google's team he was forced to act fast, and Android 3.0 was what he came up with in the limited amount of time he had. It was a stepping stone to Ice Cream Sandwich.
- "Android is the new machine" - here, Matias was referencing a PowerPoint slide which he showed Josh and which was also displayed during the ICS conference later that day. He went on to say that Android is "that new type of potential for computer / human interaction," and that smartphones are exciting because they usher in a new design era - one in which "windows, and cursors, and little folder icons" are obsolete.
- "They needed it, but they didn't necessarily love it." This statement came hot on the heels of an assertion about smartphones' increasing necessity ("they were for everyone"), and it also gave voice to a sentiment that has already been expressed by many an Android user: Google's mobile OS simply doesn't inspire the same passion in consumers as, say, iOS. Matias' solution? "We want to create wonder ... [and] to simplify people's lives." Oh, and to "make people feel ... like they're super-powered."
- "A huge component ... is the typography" - Matias somehow found a way to plug Roboto, the default typeface for Ice Cream Sandwich (he dedicated about 5 minutes of his presentation to it as well).
- "Google ... is taking design a lot more seriously" - he then proceeded to list his issues with current design trends (faux wood, faux brushed metal, faux jelly button, etc.) and to reassure us that he won't allow Android to fall victim to these movements. Instead, he promised to make Android's design more accessible and less geeky, while steering clear of completely re-inventing the wheel.
- "I came here because they're winning" - Matias concluded the interview by commending Google's success and opining that distribution and market share should be secondary to quality. For years, he claimed, corporations have held the opposite belief. "Now I'm going the other way around."
Full interview: This is my Next