How Google Unified Its Products With A Humble Index Card
“We’ve actually tapped into one of the oldest pieces of graphic and information design around—business cards, calling cards, greeting cards, playing cards.”
“The restraints of the card actually made it easier to do the rest of the [Google Now] design,” Duarte recounts. “It forced us to focus. It forced us to realize [things like], you can’t have a card that feeds two or three images at once, that just gets messy.”
The highlight of Google’s year is the I/O developers conference it hosts each May. On Wednesday, 6,000 people converged on San Francisco’s Moscone Center and more than one million tuned in to the YouTube livestream of the conference keynote to hear about the newest Google products and services. And during the three-and-a-half-hour opening keynote, Google delivered. And delivered.
The sheer number of new product features was staggering—engineering director Vic Gundotra unveiled 41 new features for Google Plus alone—but only a few made the cut for being truly innovative.
After Apple booted Google Maps from iOS last year, Daniel Graf led the development of a beautiful, refreshed mapping experience that shot to number one in the iTunes store and kicked Apple’s ass on its own turf. Here’s how Graf made it happen—in his own words:
“We have a very successful Android version of Google Maps, so the easiest thing to do was to say, this is super-successful, users love it, so why don’t we just port it over to iOS? But I wanted to challenge the team. While the Android version is a great product, you can also tell it’s been around for a while. You have to access everything via menus—it’s not really best-use-case driven anymore. I said, let’s take a step back—what if we could start from scratch and forget anything we’ve ever done? We have the foundation—the Google data, the mapping data, the local business data, the imagery, the navigation algorithms—it’s a dream to start with.”
Google’s Plan To Fight Human Trafficking With Big Data
A collection of tech and data companies are working together to track, map, and fight the criminal underworld that ships people around the world.
Google announced this week that it’s giving a $3 million Global Impact Award (part of a series of grants given to nonprofits changing the world with technology) to help three anti-trafficking organizations—Polaris Project, Liberty Asia, and La Strada International—create a Global Human Trafficking Hotline Network. While these organizations operate effective trafficking hotlines across the world, they don’t share their information. That’s the kind of big-data problem that Google can help with.
Here’s A Google Perk Any Company Can Imitate: Employee-To-Employee Learning
Google taps its own ranks to teach valuable career-building classes as well as “extracurriculars” like kickboxing and social skills for engineers.
“Googler to Googler” places employees from across departments into teaching roles that would otherwise be filled by the HR department (or rather, as Google calls it, “People Operations”). The Google core curriculum includes courses on management, orientation, and skills such as public speaking. Other classes taught Googler to Googler—everything from kickboxing to parenting—were initiated and designed by an employee.
It’s not about money. Google feeds 37,000 employees three gourmet meals a day. It can certainly afford to hire teachers. The company thinks it’s a good business idea to have employees teach employees.
When the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) wanted to fight animal poachers—illegal hunters of wildlife—they decided to bring in an unorthodox weapon: Drones. But these drones were different from the killer Predators of public imagination. Instead, they were unarmed, superlightweight, and users launch them by throwing them into the air—in fact, they are heavily modified model aircraft. After negotiations, Nepal was chosen as a pilot site for the wildlife drones. First launched in mid-2012, the WWF drones offered a new, experimental method of stopping poachers.
“Among U.S. K-12 teachers (Control+F knowledge) is around 50%, with huge variations by school district and location. As you’d guess, tech-savvy schools (districts) do reasonably well. But most of the U.S. is not tech-savvy. I’ve seen many cases where the lack of the ability to find a text on the web page leads to all kinds of scholastic hilarity.”