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

Jaroslav Stekl
Jaroslav Stekl is a tech enthusiast whose favorite gadgets almost always happen to be the latest Android devices. When he's not writing for Android Police, he's probably hiking, camping, or canoeing. He is also an aspiring coffee aficionado and an avid moviegoer.

  • Uphor8

    "Google ... is taking design a lot more seriously" - thank god for that finally. They've got the foundation, now they can work on design/UX. They should have done it earlier, before Gingerbread though.

    • Eggcake

      I agree...it's the one thing that annoyed me with Android...with every new release up to GB I thought: "WTF Google? Do you really think this looks/feels "nice"?"

      Thank you Matias Duarte! :)

  • https://plus.google.com/117702410245683101961/posts Lucian Armasu

    I've already noticed that since the launch of Google+ and all the redesigns. They're really starting to become more design oriented, and Android 4.0 is also the proof of that. The future is looking great for Google. They're just getting started.

    • lostsync

      While I'm pretty satisfied with the ICS look, I was hoping for something that married their new web UI with Android's. I'm really liking the black and orange scheme they've skinned most of their services with. That said, I feel like this must have been tried out at some point (just seems like a logical next step to me) and I guess didn't really work in practice. Maybe the OEMs didn't like how Google-specific that would be, though that seems like an odd stance to take when building a Google-powered phone.

      • GergS

        The Gapps on ICS look like the new webUI though. Check it out.

  • Bluevoodo

    He was owning that suit, lol.

    • http://www.twitter.com/robertmoreno Robert

      Haha yeah. I loved it. Suits his personality.

  • Andrew – Des Moines

    With the recent lackluster iPhone 4S release, ICS will be remembered as the leap forward in which Android resoundingly overtook Apple's mantle of premier mobile OS. Adding polish with the mantra of, "Enchant me, Simplify My Life, and Make Me Awesome," the new OS is more than a laundry list of features -- it is a symphony of sentience.

  • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com PixelSlave

    I hate to disagree, but I do. Look, if they are so serious about their UX, why don't they give every ICS user a chance to experience it. There's no doubt the headset makers will skin their phones, and there's no doubt that some of them will customize their ICS so much that it might look nothing like the stock OS. At the very least, ICS should have a feature to toggle b/w a customize UX and the stock UX, but there's no such feature.

    • GergS

      It's open-source. They can't really do anything outside of threaten to not license Gapps to those who don't fall in line... why is choice bad? Either stick with Nexus series, run CyanogenMod, or enjoy the skinned experience you get.

      You have the choice.

  • root

    Google should require a working AOSP build for any android device sold going forward. make it a requirement to publish this build. then allow the vendor to wedge custom frameworks/UI's on the device and sell it as they see fit. The user could then root and get the AOSP experience if they prefer it.

    • http://www.focuszonedevelopment.com Aaron

      And in turn, you'd see device manufacturers flee from Android due to not being able to sufficiently differentiate themselves from one another on anything except for the hardware front.

      Full disclosure: I am a stock Android fan. I despise custom manufacturer UI overlays and will never purchase a phone with one, unless it is already easily rooted and supported by CyanogenMod.

      There is nothing wrong with choice. If Google starts mandating software permutations, there will be massive public backlash by the people who already attack Android's claim to "open" every chance they get. Android is where it is BECAUSE Google stays *mostly* hands-off.

      • root

        Perhaps my post was not clear enough. the phone would ship the way they wanted it to. anything currently allowed by Google goes. I was suggesting they would need to post an AOSP for the device. they would not be required to use it.
        It makes sense for the OEM dev's as well. 1. build AOSP get it working on phone. 2.work from this build adding (or removing) to complete the build that ships on the device.

  • Nick W

    " Android's design more accessible and less geeky, while steering clear of completely re-inventing the wheel."

    I like the geeky look. .__.

    • Jim

      "design less geeky"? Please don't go and give us ios. Some people, (your core audience) _love_ geeky.

  • http://www.9kizi.com/ 9kizi

    i agree