the bar for everything we do in design,” says Sundar Pichai,
senior vice president for Android, Chrome, and apps. “Ev-
erything now has design as a fore-element. Larry has helped
bring a focus on design as a narrative across Google’s prod-
ucts.” Page—who prefers to let his team do the talking—has
invoked design a number of times in the past year, most
recently in July during Google’s second-quarter earnings
call, when he told analysts, “Our goal is to design everything
so it’s beautifully simple.”
The implications of this transformation are enormous.
Apple’s unmatched talent for design has long been its chief
advantage over Google (and everyone else), one of the
primary reasons that its products inspire mouth-frothing
joy in users and why its profit margins remain outsized.
What if Google could steal some of that magic?
We saw the first glimpse of this potential last winter
when the search company capitalized on the failure of
Apple’s map app with an iOS map app of its own. No one
was surprised by the accuracy or comprehensiveness of
Google’s app—those qualities are what we’d long expected
of Google and why the world had demanded the product.
What came as a shock, though, was Google Maps’ instant
visual appeal. The old Google Maps app—which Apple
built into earlier versions of the iPhone—had a staid,
workmanlike interface. Google’s new app—on Apple’s
platform—wasn’t just better than its old incarnation. It
was cleaner, less ostentatious, and more immediately
approachable than Apple’s own Maps app. It suggested a
innovation by design GOOGLE photographs by joão canziani