Google’s latest social network Google+ is getting a lot of buzz (sorry!) and invites are as rare as Wave users, but it was revealed this week that Google+ was part designed by the man who designed the original Mac’s system software.
Andy Hertzfeld was the lead designer for Apple’s Macintosh system software. After he left Apple he founded companies such as Radius, General Magic and Eazel. He joined Google in 2005.
As mentioned in the Apple A-Z Hertzfeld's Apple business card stated his job title as “Software Wizard”.
Now he’s come clean as the brains behind one of Google+’s most brilliant features, Circles, but is keen to point out that he didn’t design all of Google’s new social service.
“Some people are saying that I'm responsible for the broad visual refresh now rolling out across Google, which couldn't be further from the truth – in fact, I'm not even sure I like it,” Hertzfeld writes on (where else?) Google+.
It’s unlikely he’d have been allowed to be so frank if he was still designing software for Apple.
Hertfeld says: “It's great that the user experience of Google Plus is being so well received, and I'm happy about all the positive feedback that's been coming my way, but I'm worried that I'm getting too much credit for it, so this long-winded post is an attempt to set the record straight.”
“I am indeed the main individual behind the interaction design and implementation of the circle editor.
“Steven Levy's excellent Wired article got the story right – I wrote the circle editor and then recently widened my focus to the overall Google Plus user experience.
“But subsequent stories jumped to the conclusion that I was responsible for the design of the entire product that we launched on Tuesday, which isn't true, but I guess it was just too good a story (about Apple design values infecting Google) for people to resist.
Hertzfeld blames the media for jumping to conclusions: “One thing that I learned during the launch of the original Macintosh in 1984 was that the press usually oversimplifies everything, and it can't deal with the reality that there are many people playing critical roles on significant projects.
“A few people always get too much credit, while most people get too little, that's just the way it has always worked. But luckily, it's 2011 and I can use the service that I helped to create to clarify things.”
Hertzfeld praises his fellow Google workers, including:
“Shaun Modi is the awesome young designer most responsible for the visual design of the circle editor, especially the blooming circles, along with
“Jonathan Terleski, who helped refine it after Shaun departed.
“Joseph Smarr also helped with the design quite a bit, and was especially valuable as someone I could rely on (along with Jonathan) to tell me when a particular aspect was good enough yet or not.”
“Google probably won't be thrilled about me mentioning the names of the superb developers who helped me with the circle editor code (hello recruiters) but I feel that I must mention my main collaborators here: Owen Prater, Eric Cattell, Eric W. Barndollar and Griff Hazen, along with Ariel Gertzenstein and Rich Conlan who helped in the early stages. And those are just the main front-end guys, there are plenty of others who worked on the shared infrastructure or the back-end that I won't mention.”
“And all of the above are just the people who helped with the circle editor and related UI. There are plenty of others who worked on the stream, profiles and photos, as well as the leadership, product managers and various specialists who also made invaluable contributions every day.
“Suffice it to say that Google Plus is the creation of large, talented team that I'm proud to be a part of, and anyway it's only the beginning, we're all excited about what it has a chance to become over the months and years ahead.