updated 07:15 pm EDT, Tue June 28, 2011
Google uses Apple vet Hertzfeld, optimizes design
The much more visual interface of Google+ is owed to the company hiring on one of Apple's earliest software designers, an inside look at the social service's creation has revealed. Andy Hertzfeld, best known for designing core parts of the original Mac interface and a Google staffer since 2005, is the leader of design for the entire team. His influence is likely seen most in the drag-and-drop interface of Circles and other elements that shed Google's usual text-heavy layout.
The company has been trying to get away from its previous image as a whole. Android 2.3 was its first clue and began focusing on polish and visual speed that hasn't been present before. Android 3 and beyond also have a consistent, identifiable "holographic" interface that is owed largely to hiring a key webOS architect who provides a cohesive vision.
Independently of the social component, Google has also introduced a significant change to its own core search page. The new version clearly puts Google's menu bar in black and is more minimal. Pages are now more likely to run on modern standards like HTML5 and WebGL, and the interface should now be more consistent on tablets, TVs, and other non-computer displays.
Google's promised mobile website redesign has likewise gone live for Android, iPhone, and iPod users. The main page now has a "drawer" that includes quick access both to the most commonly used sites and expands to provide full access to individual search types and web apps.