Seanification

Technology, user experience, software design, writing, movies, and other assorted geek interests.

Visit www.seanr.org for my professional website.

Google's "iLost" Motorola ad faked an address to "lose" iOS 6 Maps

I knew I’d regret saying I would post no more on Mapgate.

Apple Insider reports that Google used a fake address to confuse Apple’s Maps app in a Motorola ad. This seems really odd, considering there are plenty of legitimate errors in Apple’s map data, but I’d assume the truth is that, when comparing to Google Maps, the errors aren’t really as shocking as has been hyped.

Something tells me Google won’t get called out for this as much as they deserve. Apple may use too much hyperbole in their ads for some, but they don’t outright lie about their competitors.

Google pays Apple more than twice what they earn from Android

Horace Dediu, Calculating Google’s contribution to iPhone profitability:

The interesting factors at work here are that this contribution by Google to Apple is higher than the contribution by Android to Google.

[…]

$1.4 billion from Google to Apple vs. $600 million from Android to Google.

I’ve been wondering lately, with all the woes besetting Android, just how long Google will keep it around…

The brilliant "Don't Be Evil" bookmarklet

MG Seigler (parislemon):

Kudos to Facebook (with some help from Twitter and MySpace) for having the balls to do this. It’s a bookmarklet that replaces Google’s new “People and Pages” area, the hardcoded social search area, and the search completion drop-down, with organic results. 

In other words, it makes the new Google behave more like the old Google.

Though as Watts Martin put it in his response to the story:

Facebook chiding Google for being evil is kinda like Voldemort telling Sauron he needs to lighten up about the hobbits.

From dilbert.com
littlebigdetails:

Google - Google wishes you happy birthday based on the information from your Google+ profile. Clicking the doodle sends you to your profile at Google+.
/via Alexey Gornostaev

That’s kinda creepy.

littlebigdetails:

Google - Google wishes you happy birthday based on the information from your Google+ profile. Clicking the doodle sends you to your profile at Google+.

/via Alexey Gornostaev

That’s kinda creepy.

Google to buy Motorola Mobility

http://thisismynext.com/2011/08/15/google-buy-motorola-mobility-hardware-business/

I think this could be a very good thing for Android. Tight hardware-software integration is crucial to decent user experience.

It will be interesting to see how Google’s relationship with the other Android handset manufacturers develops. There were already accusations of Google being difficult to work with, using compliance as a method of control. I can’t see how this would improve things.

I don’t think Apple has much to be concerned about though. People who buy a Google phone would have bought another Android phone over an iPhone anyway.

Update: John Gruber brings together a few of the puzzle pieces in this post on Daring Fireball. It certainly seems like this was a somewhat desperate move on Google’s behalf.

Google: Thanks for looking at 100s of ads you hate.
Apple: Thanks for buying 100s of dollars of stuff you love.

Finding more high-quality sites in search

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/finding-more-high-quality-sites-in.html

Awesome. Google is finally getting rid of the content farms that have been reducing the usefulness of their search.

(via Daring Fireball)

Microsoft's Bing uses Google search results

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/microsofts-bing-uses-google-search.html

I’ve been bagging Google again recently, but at least they don’t completely rip off the competition. Microsoft has definitely reached a new low.

Update: some more detail, from searchengineland.com:

http://searchengineland.com/google-bing-is-cheating-copying-our-search-results-62914

When Bing launched in 2009, the joke was that Bing stood for either “Because It’s Not Google” or “But It’s Not Google.” Mining Google’s searches makes me wonder if the joke should change to “Bing Is Now Google.”

(via Andy Baio via Daring Fireball)

Google changes the documents list

Google has just made some changes to the documents list in Google Docs. They’re not bad changes, really. Perhaps the main issue they solved was the inconsistencies in interface between Google Docs and GMail: now the two look nothing alike, so it’s acceptable that the function differently.

Now I look back through my archives, it seems I never got around to writing a post about the myriad inconsistencies between Google Docs and GMail. I saw the inconsistencies as a sure sign that Google separates its developers and doesn’t let them talk to each other. I touched on it a bit in my comparison of Sony and Google.

Yet even with this change, inconsistencies are still rife. The one thing they kind of fixed was the annoying difference between the selection check-boxes in the two apps. In GMail, the method for selecting all was quite intelligent, requiring just a single click in the check-box at the top of the list. Alternatively, you could drop down a menu from the check-box button that allowed advanced selections. Google Docs allowed no such advanced selection, and, furthermore, required two clicks just to select all: click on the button then click on the option to select all. So, thankfully, that inconsistency is gone… yet only because they made Google Docs less like GMail, not more like it.

I don’t see why the interface for Google Docs couldn’t have been brought closer to that of GMail. Now, there’s a whole new method of interaction I need to learn. How do I select all docs now? There doesn’t seem to be an obvious way. Not that I want to do that too often, but it seems odd considering how easy it is to do in GMail.

Still, it’s at least no longer inconsistent, it’s just different. But there’s plenty of other differences that strike a design-oriented person such as myself as odd. They may not inhibit usability like the check-box button did, but they still show that the Google design teams (such as they are) don’t share anything between themselves. Here’s a couple of comparisons:

  • The search bars
     
    The top bar is GMail’s and the bottom is Google Docs’. You’d think for something as central to Google’s brand as the search bar, they’d have a common control to share amongst products. But they don’t even seem to be using a shared style sheet. The only similarities are the height of the bar and the font family for the button text. Everything else is different: the font colours for both buttons and links, the link styles, the button shading, the radius of the buttons’ rounded edges, and even the colour of the inner border of the search bar itself.
  • Sidebar navigation
     
     GMail is on the left and Google Docs is on the right. The difference in styles here is even more remarkable. It’s almost like one team saw a picture of the other teams’, tried to copy it, then changed a few bits to not make it obvious they had copied. The selected item is completely different: in GMail, it is Bold, and the background melds nicely into the border of the main content pane. Google Docs has nothing like this. Even the border of the main content pane is a different width. In Gmail, the Starred items has a star; in Google Docs it does not. In GMail, the trash is called “Bin”, in Google Docs it is called “Trash” (this is possibly a localization difference… and if so, why?). The button shape, size, colour, and shading is different. Even the hovered item background colour, which looks similar, is a slightly different shade of blue. Why?

It seems baffling to me that a company that prides itself on the careful attention to detail in the design of the search page seems to be completely oblivious of the little details in so many other areas. At the very least it’s bizarre that they don’t share their style sheets to avoid having to re-do all the work again.

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