More than any designer on this side of Cupertino, Matias Duarte has made phones easy to use much. During his tenure at Google, he first overseeing the design of Android—the vice president of design watched Google’s operating system capture more than 85% of the global smartphone market as well. “I just make the guns! I didn’t make you guys shoot each other!” he said. “We’ve been calling this idea ambient computing,” says Duarte. “Where you are able to reach services wherever you are.”
“I feel like we, as technologists, sometimes succumb a little, too, and fall a little too in love with, the idea of transformative revolutions where the old is gone and replaced with the new better on every axis,” says Duarte. “What I found in my experience was the growth of computing and these platforms has been one that’s more additive. He points to the PC terminal command line as being the origin of working on a computer. Even though we have loads of beautiful software to use on mobile devices, coders still turn to this command line for its sheer efficiency. Similarly, even though we have smartphones, we still use laptops. Even though we have video chat, we still text.”
“I see that [same evolution] happening as part of this ambient growth,” shares Duarte. “We see more quiet computing moments, more voice command, more simple suggestions—things coming up on smart displays. But I don’t think that’s to the exclusion or replacement of all other types of experiences. You’ll see a continuum to things . . . finding their natural interface.”
Flutter’s new north star of ambient computing wouldn’t mean that much on its own, but it gives a fresh focus for Google that the company put their focus and time again in 2019. Ambient computing will have huge consequences for our lives. Whoever wins here will make sure its products are more baked into our world than any technology ever before too.