Google UI Designer Duarte Sweet on Honeycomb
Engadget scored this sweet interview with Google's Android user-experience lead Matias Duarte, who discussed the new Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) operating system powering the Motorola Xoom when Verizon Wireless launches it next month he helped craft.
Duarte, who left Palm after creating the heralded webOS user interface, explains in a politic way why he joined Google:
"Google was an opportunity to make stuff better on a much bigger scale -- the fastest-growing scale. The reason I went to Google is because now is the time.. there is this huge opportunity right now where the mobile space is just exploding..."
He uses a lot of other superlatives, but you get the idea. Duarte began working at Google to help revamp the Android 2.3 Gingerbread build UI after Android 2.2, or Froyo, wrapped.
Duarte said he helped improve the text input via the keyboard (the keys on the Gingerbread-based Nexus S are shorter, wider, with more spacing between each), cut copy and paste and text selection. I wrote about this improvements in my review here.
Honeycomb, he acknowledged, is a different animal, one optimized for use on tablets. Gone are the physical buttons, replaced by virtual buttons for touch input on tablets.
Honeycomb also improves on Android's multitasking capability, which Duarte said is not easy to discover in existing smartphones and tablets because of the "press and hold" latency.
"The more that the device becomes useful, the more that it becomes integrated with your life, the more things you're doing at once, and we really want to make multitasking easy. discoverable, quick..."
Honeycomb offers a virtual button users may tap to see a list of recent applications, and a name and icon to access them.
Duarte also acknowledged that is was "just crazy" how companies are writing code that does the same thing for Android -- radio stacks, kernels and process stacks and graphics drivers. These actions are leading to the gross fragmentation of the platform.
Finally, stay tuned for Honeycomb in February, just a couple months after Gingerbread dropped. But if you've been following the Xoom coverage, you know that Motorola Mobility CEO Sanjay Jha has promised the 3G version of the Xoom is coming next month.
Some of the questions venture into pandering and geek worship, but on the whole, Engadget does a fine job. See the whole interview after the jump: