Apple and Google are tech giants that pride themselves on their design and user experience, but why are their products so different (other than when they actually copy each other)? Although I do not work for these companies, I actively use Apple and Google products. Also, I work in the design industry, so I decided to illustrate the differences in their approach to design.
1. Making decisions
Google: create what users want
Apple: Build What They Think Users Want
2. Research and development
Google: development is more important than research
Apple: research is more important than development
3. Type of sequence
Google: focus on visual consistency
Apple: User Experience Driven Sequence
4. Announcement of upcoming products
Google: press releases and teasers
Apple: remain silent
5. Design evolution
Google: redesign and new trends
Apple: a durable design
Google: simulating privacy
Apple: true privacy
7. User base
Google: extensive reach
Apple: limited reach
Google: a flat structure with distributed power
Apple: hierarchical structure with centralized power
Google: open source
Google: trying to be in the spotlight and running promotions
Apple: trying to keep the existing structure
Apple at a glance
When the first iPhone came out and a reporter complained that typing on a touchscreen was too difficult, Steve Jobs replied, “Your fingers will get used to it.”
This is the whole Apple.
Oftentimes, Apple knows its users better than they know themselves. To do this, they conduct lengthy and rigorous research and focus on delivering good, consistent, and timeless UX solutions. Their company has a hierarchical structure in which several elite designers control the quality of the final results. While this is great for creating perfect products, it often takes more time and effort. In addition, many users may view the “we know what you want” approach is less friendly, which limits the user base and may alienate users in the niche market looking for phones with physical keyboards, for example.
Google in brief
Google, on the other hand, often strives to get approval from its users. They often open source their work whenever possible and value community input and feedback. This helps them effectively build a diverse portfolio of products and attract a huge user base (where Google collects its data from). Just think about what an Android smartphone can do and what an iPhone can’t. However, users don’t always know what they want. Remember the Kickstarter modular phone concept that went viral in 2013 and then hijacked by Google? It was a beautiful idea, but it failed. Complete trust in users has its advantages and, of course, its disadvantages.
While users’ voices need to be heard, designing for users doesn’t mean they have to be designers. This means observing users to see what they want. Although Google tends to use agile development and can quickly make adjustments in the event of errors.