Simplicity, The Emerging UI, and Machine Learning

Long title. Short post.

Daring Fireball says:

The utter simplicity of the iOS home screen is Apple’s innovation. It’s the simplest, most obvious “system” ever designed. It is a false and foolish but widespread misconception that “innovation” goes only in the direction of additional complexity.

"Designed" being the important word in that quote. Because we aren't done designing user interfaces. I think we are just getting started.

This piece in Wired got my head nodding because I am experiencing it every day on my Android phone. I find myself typing less and less on Android because the voice recognition is so damn good. And the type ahead prompts are like reading my mind. Instead of typing, I find myself selecting the next word more often than not.

Machine learning is the key innovation here. And in that area Google is so far ahead of every big company (and most small companies) that it is hard to imagine how they are not going to out innovate on the emerging user interfaces of our mobile future (glasses, watches, etc, etc).

#mobile#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Granted that Google has an abundance of applying NLP capabilities, but they have hardly been an innovator in User Experience Design.Their designs have been either skimpy (Docs), klunky (Android) or over engineered (G+).They need to hit the right balance which they haven’t, and I doubt they have a Chief UX person that sets the tone & standard like Jobs did.Machine learning & UI are 2 different things. I’m not convinced you can totally solve user experience designs with neural networks & machine learning.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Fully agree with you except for Docs. I like its simplicity and imagine it suits 80% of user use cases.

    2. fredwilson

      my point is they will be the same thing soon

      1. Matt A. Myers

        They certainly will have to be taken into account when designing an overall interface – especially once / if things like motion control can prove its added-value.

      2. William Mougayar

        I think that will affect a small part of the user experience given that it’s biased for the OS & less on the Apps. That FC article sounded like Google fed it to them

        1. fredwilson

          the apps will be able to leverage all of this via the api

          1. William Mougayar

            To what impact extent is the question.

          2. JamesHRH

            To the extent that the major issue with AI – lack of contextual awareness – may be overcome.With a neural network, they can take the general past and make it more specific: just your past, just these requests from the last 300 seconds, just these requests from people with ……..,They could drop the % of misses dramatically enough to make it an elegant UI.

          3. JamesHRH

            @wmoug:disqus ‘hey, GOOG DOCS, I want to make an invitation for my daughter’s sleepover’……..milliseconds later, after checking my daughter’s G+ account & whatever other data is deemed relevant, GOOD DOCS comes back with the sleepover party invitation format that Selena Gomez used when she had a sleepover, when she was 11.

          4. markslater

            absolutely. a good friend of mine just launched a company called digisocial. its groupme with a voice conduit. the very reason i dont use it! but thats me!!

      3. ShanaC

        what does that look like?

      4. markslater

        we should be asking Gen Y whether they use voice. have you ever watched a teenager type? i have a 22 year old au pair. its frightening. Her generation dont talk to their phones. they tap.Anyone here not think that Siri was a wave that has passed and that people went back to tapping?i’d be cautious to suggest that voice is making any kind of comeback any time soon – out beyond this community….

        1. Pete Griffiths

          I think you are right about current behavior and habits are hard to change but I think Fred is right. Voice input is something that has a critical quality threshold which must be surpassed for it to be useable. Siri doesn’t meet it for many of us. Google is definitely getting there for more of us. And once you switch to it and experience its benefits they are extremely compelling.

          1. markslater

            totally agree – as an iphone user – siri is a fail so i dont get to use it or even try it frankly.

          2. Dave W Baldwin

            and @myscrawl:disqus – Siri is based on herding goats to ask in a predictable way. What it comes down to is they rushed it (think of the timeline) and were wrong on the TTS on many fronts.As I mentioned a couple of days back, Google has Kurzweil as an engineer now. Just wait.

        2. William Mougayar

          I agree. I’m on the fence with VR too, until I experience it. But Fred’s vouching for it is good sign.

          1. markslater

            or that he’s a bit of a geezer!!your right – fred signalling means his brain is on to something….

        3. ShanaC

          err, I’m generation y, and because it is rude to be talking in the phone when you have to inform someone of something in public?

          1. markslater

            could not agree more……

      5. Pete Griffiths

        I don’t think that’s right, Fred. ML can provide incredibly powerful new capabilities which will influence what is designable, and this in turn will certainly revolutionize UI (your point on voice recognition is well made) but that will not make the core competence of UI design any less important nor will it make UI vanish into some subfield of AI. UI design will remain extremely challenging forever no matter what the status of technology.

        1. raycote

          I agree good UI design metaphors will become ever more pivotal as technical complexity increases.

    3. Alex Bangash

      Excellent comment about Google in general, William. 🙂 I do agree with Fred that Android Voice recognition is getting better. I too am using voice more often. Typing is such an anachronistic interface compared to voice. It’s ironic that we have not gotten rid of it yet altogether. Voice will be a larger part of user interface and lead to better user experience. Google clearly is innovating there.

    4. ShanaC

      I love docs. I just wish you could do python programming in their spreadsheet.And I found Apple klunky compared to android, especially recent iterations of IOS

      1. William Mougayar

        Wow. I didn’t see this coming from you. You’re now in the Android camp? I’m holding my ground with iOS/Apple.

        1. ShanaC

          i use apple computers and android phones. Always have. For some reason, except for the size of the app ecosystem, the actual iphone doesn’t do it for me.I also don’t think android scales well for a tablet….too phone-ish

  2. Matt A. Myers

    It took me awhile to get used to auto-suggest typing on Android but I’m getting better. I kind if wish the suggestion bar was below the space bar as that’s more naturally wants to go. It’s definitely one of those things that has a learning and adoption curve, and I can see more systems that inherently will make life easier for people – though may take time for adoption / comfort to come.

  3. Elie Seidman

    Are you using the VR for typing emails etc or primarily for navigation?

    1. fredwilson

      initially nav and textingnow for emails and other thingsit’s so good

      1. Elie Seidman

        Impressive. I need to try it. Siri is not good.

        1. fredwilson

          with google now, it is even better

          1. Pete Griffiths

            google now is a big dealanother great example of deep data science transforming UI

  4. awaldstein

    This design has become part of nature itself and is the best example I can think of, of simplicity and usage, minimal design and machine learning there is.I’ve been a decrier of Google as the anti-consumer company publicly for years. Maybe they or the world is indeed turning a corner.

  5. LIAD

    So much of Google is under the surface and hidden from view. They are the ultimate Iceberg. The sheer volume of actionable data from myriad sources they have direct and exclusive access to is unfathomable and unprecedented.We forget sometimes this company is run by the best data scientists in the world and led by a billionaire uber-nerd who is beholden to no-one and who expects 10x not 10% innovations.The products and services they will release over the next few years will be off the scale.Talking heads chuckled last week at the alleged $1bn Apple managed to extract from Google to remain iOS’s default search engine for the next year. The joke is on them. $1bn is chicken feed for what Google will extract from the data and the value it will leverage from it.Apple’s infamous UI and design sensibilities pale into absolute insignificance over the long-term when compared to the gargantuan data-set, technical chops and mission like zeal over at Google.

    1. fredwilson

      i am in 100% agreement with you LIAD

      1. John Revay

        Fred – I think I saw a video or read a quote from you just about 6 +/- months ago…in which you said you would not be an investor in Apple but rather Google – If I look at the chart that LIAD just posted – it was probably just around the time that the two bifurcated

        1. fredwilson

          just a coincidence

          1. Sérgio Rebelo

            coincidence is either hit or miss

    2. Matt A. Myers

      And they’re experimenting to gain more and extract more.

    3. John Revay

      It will be interesting to see where Scott Forstall lands

    4. Henry Yates

      Spot on. The amazing thing about Google is they play a long game like Amazon but still deliver on short term profitability.

      1. fredwilson

        Paid search is vastly superior business model to commodity retail. But they are both awesome founder led innovative companies

        1. awaldstein

          Paid search and commodity retail are the company monopolies of our era.I’m looking at the edges of Google and Amazon, Facebook and Linked In as well, for the opportunities. They are so big, so single focused that the possibilities seem to lie in between them.

          1. laurie kalmanson

            i worked on a project that attempted to use data science to aggregate all search — you want X sweater, here are recommendations of all related to X — but was felled by the enormity and wound up being an advertising data marketplace instead. not a dumb pivot.

        2. ShanaC

          I don’t see amazon as commodity retail anymore. I am half positive that amazon knows I have a secret dream to run away to Paris and apprentice myself to the best baker there based on the recommendations I have

          1. laurie kalmanson

            and the know what kind of shoes you will bring

          2. ShanaC

            actually, they don’t if only because I haven’t bought shoes in a while (speaking of which, looking for new leopard print flats, because my other ones have holes in them….)

          3. laurie kalmanson

            aaah ha! no doubt they know it’s been a while, and they should know that it will soon be time and leopard flats are a good recommendationthe opposite is the online shopping site that keeps sending me diapers reminders, and my kid is almost done with elementary school

          4. JLM

            .French is more than a bit rusty but what you aspire to be is a “mitron” or “boulangere” in a “boulangerie”.Go do it.JLM.

          5. ShanaC

            nah, have other more immediate dreams.Though I have been doing too much reasearch so I can make adult tasting hamentaschen and small cookies for tea and friends 🙂 That and reading this cookbook called Paris Sweets

          6. LE

            “I have a secret dream to run away to Paris and apprentice myself to the best baker”I know someone who did something similar. He went to Italy and apprenticed with a chef there. (Also managed to get his way into Wolfgang Puck). He now runs what is regarded as the best restaurant in Philly in some circles (and has several). Growing up he was a stutterer and his parents wanted him to be an accountant, lawyer or business person. His father said (to me) I’ll be damned if he thinks I will give him money to start a restaurant.

          7. ShanaC

            yeah, not cool

          8. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Me too!

          9. ShanaC


          10. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Yes, pretty much, Shana. I prepare dough/bake a lot nowadays as there is so little work from the digital world coming in, nowadays.As a result I like the analogue world lots and lots more. OK, it doesn’t pay the bills but at least we can eat cheaper, lol … Spookily, I just blogged about it mere moments ago, in fact:http://carl-rahn-griffith.t…Probably not Paris for me/us, but just another Yorkshire village like ours, but one in the nearby Yorkshire Dales (and so even a tad more remote):…If Paris is your preferred choice, you’ll like this:

          11. Pete Griffiths

            But Google knew this before you did. 🙂

          12. Abdallah Al-Hakim

            It is not a secret anymore 🙂

        3. Richard

          neither is optimized for mobile

          1. JamesHRH

            I am pretty sure I do not want to use either core service on my phone, frequently.

    5. JamesHRH

      It is brute strength over elegance.The neural network approach is the first time I have thought “they now have enough brute strength to make Voice Rec happen.” Very cool development.You are right about GOOG & Fred is right about the UI leap frowardShould have bought the stock when I first heard the story of Larry’s re-org of the company.

    6. William Mougayar

      Well said LIAD. There’s a lot of complexity behind every Google Search. When you see search results, they are so simple, yet utterly complex to generate.Trivia: What happens when a big data scientist meets a UX designer? If they both work at Google, they never meet. Ouch.Kidding aside, it would be a wonderful thing if these 2 worlds complemented each other with synergy. I think we’re talking 2-4 years perhaps.

      1. ShanaC

        There is UX in it. As much as I hate to say it, google has been active in trying to simply complex, unstructured data (which is essentially what a serp is)The larger issue is that you piss people off with too much complexity hidden away. But what do I understand of the deeper nature of the algorithms behind search.

      2. LE

        “What happens when a big data scientist meets a UX designer?”Problem is big data scientists don’t realize how stupid people are so they can’t design products for them. We get calls from people on a regular basis and we tell them that we are not their registrar and we give them the name of their registrar (or in some cases send them an email so we can capture their email address from them but that’s another story). And do you know what they say? After we tell them the name of their registrar, example: “your registrar is so you have to talk to them” they say “do you know how to contact them?”. They actually say that like it’s 1970 or something.

        1. William Mougayar

          Why are most domain management control panels a bit archaic. Aren’t they?It’s like I have to brace myself every time I enter one 🙂

          1. LE

            Well in our case there’s not enough profit in the business to spend money to work on that vs. what we would gain by spending in that area. People care about price and in order to gain market share you first have to sell for approaching cost of the domain.

    7. ShanaC

      They are missing one thing Amazon has – end game of retail. Plus, so much of their data is out of view that we don’t know the implications of what they do at all…

      1. JLM

        .Great comment. Well played.JLM.

    8. markslater

      i just dont agree. we live in a design world. people dont care how things work (well at least people not on here) – they need to work beautifully. apple wins that all day and on sunday.

      1. JLM

        .I agree that we live in a design world. Moreso than ever before. And that observation is a very mature insight.Good design is sometimes elegantly simple. I love simple and clean website design, as an example.Nobody has ever really come up with anything as elegantly simple as the Tiffany’s box. Their boxes trade almost as precious as their jewelry.JLM.

        1. markslater

          you should by an iphone : ) the shit literally glows when you open it!On a seperate note – isn’t the tech renaissance in new york in large part due to a design resnaissance in tech? i can think of 5 or 6 iconic companies that have achieved success through design….

          1. JLM

            .Hey, I have nothing but good things to say about Apple products. I have owned iPhones.They are just too small for my eyes and fingers. I’ve got one of those big “lump of cheese” phones that is crawling toward being a phablet/tablet. I love the convergence.I use my tablet to Skype — even just phone calls — with bluetooth all the time.They, Apple, were the pioneers (maybe Sony also in other products) in making utilitarian “stuff” into high end, digital jewelry.I love that this is an American innovation though certainly not a monopoly.JLM.

          2. Dave Pinsen

            Sony was the Apple, Inc. of the ’80s. The Walkman, that waterproof boom box for the beach, etc.

          3. Pete Griffiths


      2. jason wright

        we live a ‘surface’ experience.

      3. Pete Griffiths

        How things work is an essential element of design. Form and function 🙂

    9. Richard

      Dont count out microsoft in this space. Keep an eye on Kinect and tbe Al/ML behind it including algorithms that are trained to generalize using data with known outcomes then be applied to predict the outcome in cases of unknown outcome, i.e., to classify the data according to learned patterns.

      1. Pete Griffiths

        Microsoft has done ground breaking research. Their problem appears to be translating that research into products in a timely manner.

    10. JLM

      .The trend is your friend and that chart says it all.JLM.

    11. Ben Milstead

      Android developers, in particular, try to remember that Google is run by the best and led by super-geniuses, unlike those wannabes at Apple. They know this is true because, well, everybody knows it now. And they remember it when they have to use lousy development tools and do battle with the Eclipse IDE and slow, buggy emulators. They remember it when they’re struggling with an over-engineered, clunky, dubious API, debugging in a black box or on any of the dozens of test devices they had to buy, and they realize Goggle has much more important things to do than write documentation. And they know that Google could spend more time with device manufacturers to decrease platform fragmentation, but they trust that there’s a strategy in place that must be beyond their understanding.In all seriousness, I totally agree that Google has an enormous amount of talent and they are on a steady march to innovative user experiences in several areas. Neural network-based voice recognition is exciting. But they have a ton of housekeeping to do, too.

      1. Pete Griffiths

        I think that at least part of the problem you describe is a side effect the fact that Google Android has had to run like crazy to catch up with Apple. And when you’re up to your ass in alligators, it’s hard to remember you’re there to drain the swamp. I also give Apple credit because unlike Google, they have been working with developers and nurturing this community for decades – they understand its importance and know how it’s done.

    12. Pete Griffiths

      Absolutely right. They are and have long been the quintessential ‘big data’ company.

    13. LE

      “So much of Google is under the surface and hidden from view.”Agree. On the surface it’s not visual like machinery, oil wells, large buildings, tankers, battle ships etc. Not much that’s large and visually impressive. A data center is a data center. An office filled with people is an office.”Talking heads chuckled last week at the alleged $1bn Apple managed to extract from Google to remain iOS’s default search engine for the next year. The joke is on them. $1bn is chicken feed for what Google will extract from the data and the value it will leverage from it.”Obviously it pays for google to pay 1bn because they are gaining something from it. But to say that the joke is on apple implies that there would be a way for Apple that fits with their business plan to monetize that information. If they wanted to go that route they could. In any case they are not “fools” which your tone implies.Look, companies pay millions for a super bowl spot. There is nothing to prevent the network that has TV rights (and has paid the NFL for them) to decide to actually sell a product or service (other than advertising) and make money that way. But it’s not their business. For that matter they could buy an existing company with potential and give them all the advertising time. But it’s not their business. So I don’t think it’s appropriate to frame this as “joke on them” as if Apple is a fool at the table.”Apple’s infamous UI and design sensibilities pale into absolute insignificance over the long-term when compared to the gargantuan data-set, technical chops and mission like zeal over at Google.”Liad where are you getting all this zeal from? (By the way Google hasn’t been around that long. See where that zeal is as the workforce ages, settles in, has families and wants other things out of life. The world is littered with companies that were powerhouses and the shit and that fell by the wayside as people aged.)Google sucks in many areas.That great voice recognition that Fred speaks of? Have you ever looked at the voice recognition that they have in google voice? (Example attached). (FYI – I’ve had great result with siri but of course ymmv).The gmail interface? It’s 1998 at best nothing special they don’t give a shit about that.Have you ever tried to get setup on adwords or google apps or anything like that? I do and I have customers that do and the instructions completely throw people for a loop.Have you joined any of their partner programs? I have and they outsource the sales effort to some company in the midwest that is totally mediocre in their approach to selling the service. I could get better results out of high school students working after school.Google certainly deserves credit for what they have done. But it takes more than technical chops it also takes caring about things that you have created that are no longer the shiny ball and improving on them as well. In many areas they rest on their laurels and don’t give a shit while moving onto other things that are more exciting.On attached the actual voicemail was totally understandable.

      1. LIAD

        I’m not saying Google is all a bed of roses.Adwords UI is an absolute clusterfuck. Nigh on impossible to use. Their cross-service data sharing privacy policy doesn’t sit well with me.I just wanted to get across that sometimes we discount the mammoth amount of computing and human power they have at their disposal. Coupled with their leaderships desire to go after moonshots, makes them an unbelievable force. Glass/Driverless Car/Fiber being a few of the transformative projects they have in the oven.

        1. LE

          “Glass/Driverless Car/Fiber”Depending on the outcome of all that you could either write that story as a brilliant way to get the company onto the next thing, because they shouldn’t be relying on the cash cow that they have now, or it could be written as an empire building thing the way leaders want to be known by their legacy and doing something oh so important or something that is interesting to them personally. In other words it’s not enough to be President you care about your legacy and it matters to you when you are dead that you are remembered like Lincoln or Roosevelt.

        2. Pete Griffiths

          Completely agree.Nice piece here about Larry’s thiniing about the importance of moonshots. (presumably what you had in mind)…

        3. Abdallah Al-Hakim

          And google ventures is rapidly growing as one of the biggest investors in all types of technology. This is my opinion is important for them and for entrepreneurship.

  6. John Revay

    Re: your comment about Google – is being far ahead….I was listening to the radio on the way home last night …I think they said Google had hit an all time high.

    1. Tom Labus

      Yes just under 807

  7. jason wright

    apple’s share price comes under pressure and then suddenly the media is awash with iwatch stories.Dan Loeb cashed out.

  8. andyswan

    Agree 100%. I’ve decided that I’m an idiot for not making Google Plus a priority.There’s a lot I don’t like about it right now, but that’s no excuse. They’re pretty likely to win long term….and I’d like to be an established presence when they do.Add me.

    1. fredwilson

      the beauty of google plus is we are all on it whether we like it or not

      1. William Mougayar

        we’re all on it, but how much activity or benefits are we seeing is another question.something gives. we can’t possibly be effective all over the social web unless that’s all one does all day.

        1. Fernando Gutierrez

          When I get into G+ I usually find that I spend more time than what I expected, but very few times I remember to go back. I think it is because few people are really active there (compared to other social networks) so there are less atention pullers.

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Yes – I don’t go back either. Why hasn’t G+ ever sent me an email to entice me back?

          2. William Mougayar

            they need to read Fred’s Retention blog post 🙂

          3. Kirsten Lambertsen

            That’s what I was thinking, too 🙂

          4. Fernando Gutierrez

            They do send me one sometimes. And I usually react to it. I think they don’t abuse this because they are always on the spot with anything they do and prefer to take it easy.

          5. Kirsten Lambertsen

            My relationship w/G is kind of train wreck when it comes to registration email addresses. Maybe they are sending me updates somewhere in the ether…

        2. fredwilson

          what i meant is that if you are on any of google’s apps, you are on google plus. i am for example, even though i never use it.



    2. William Mougayar

      yup. i saw you followed me there a couple of days ago.i wasn’t sure if I was supposed to yawn or get excited.

    3. ShanaC

      i’m starting to see activity there. But not a lot. And not the general kind that seems to get people to be organically people

  9. Matt A. Myers

    If you have insider information feel free to share it with Fredland.. :PEdit: For clarity, I was joking – insight, not inside info..

    1. JamesHRH

      Insight, not inside info.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        I know, was joking.

        1. JamesHRH

          I knew that you knew but Fred is the DEW and he deserves to be lauded for it.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            If you just look at his and USV’s investments, they clearly had good theory and continue to. Fred already stated it was coincidence. We can’t protect against and censor humour just for those who don’t understand.Edit: And I can’t imagine anyone seeing what I said as disrespect towards Fred.

          2. JamesHRH

            No, no, no -I knew you were joking (not a bad joke either). I just took it in a different direction (mostly becaus eof the opportunity for illiteration, who can pass that up?).I merely wanted to point out that even though Fred does not invest in the public markets, his instincts / insights are so good that he makes an off the cuff comment 6 months ago that is absolutely bang on. One that public market investors absolutely could have jumped on (and should have).Again, not a criticism of your joke, just using it as a jumping off point.

          3. Matt A. Myers

            Ah okay. Guess I’m a bit touchy / reactive this morning.

          4. JamesHRH

            Miss your yoga today? 😉

  10. Fernando Gutierrez

    My problem with voice recognition is the lack of privacy. I don’t want to hear what others are doing and I don’t want them to hear me.I hate people shouting conversations on the phone everywhere. I don’t want that same people shouting commands now (although I admit that can also cause a few funny situations).

  11. Luke Chamberlin

    Google is getting better at design faster than Apple is getting better at data.

    1. JamesHRH

      I am not sure this is true Luke.GOOG is just getting even stronger at its core strength – crunching data quickly.APPL has to crack another physical frontier (implants?) to catchup.

      1. Luke Chamberlin

        Google has invested in their design department and I think it shows up big time in the new Android and iOS apps, Google Now, the Google Doodle, and many other places. Could you see Google circa 2007 making a page that looks like this: ?

        1. JamesHRH

          That’s just pretty MarComm wrapping – 21 year olds can do that (as an ex-ad guy, I get to talk in this authoritative way, on this topic ;-)They still make their money in an ugly way, design-wise:

    2. markslater

      now that is a good debate.Apple owns mainstream consumers across so many platforms and products – the ONLY tool the younger lot use today that is google is search…..

      1. John Revay

        & YouTube

        1. markslater

          correct john – that is correct. they use the sh*t out of youtube.

          1. Dasher

            and Gmail. Most people underestimate this asset including Google.

      2. Pete Griffiths

        And the aquaducts.

      3. Luke Chamberlin

        Android phones. iPhones = parents phone (more and more).

        1. JamesHRH

          Android screen size is the key there, no?

    3. Pete Griffiths

      This is a tough call but for what little it is worth I agree.There is a big difference between design and data. Whereas design may appear to be relatively ‘easy’ it makes enormous demands on an organization culturally. The remarkable thing about Apple is not that it can ‘do design’ but that it does.

  12. Matt A. Myers

    Google Glass is another innovation that’s going to mean big things for Google, that they are the thought leader / taking lead on, and that will plug into everything Google extremely well.Watch the video at… and you’ll get an idea of its uses and how content is going to be enhanced; POV’s not just for porn anymore.I do have health concerns relating to having that transmitting device on / near your head for so long though, for how often some users will use it anyhow.

    1. Aviah Laor

      The video is nice because it reflects (true or virtual) colorful life where one great experience follows the other. Nobody in the video has to sit near a computer. Having all these packed colorful experiences, I’m OK with the chore of taking out a camera or the mobile GPS.Another thing, you never know when the person you speak to is taking a video/photos of you which is not pleasant, I think.

      1. ShanaC

        why is the not knowing unpleasant? It might kill the sometimes feeling of the isolation driven by web experiences

        1. Aviah Laor

          I don’t know. I’m better having a visual clue (picking a camera, or the red light in the old video camera) that photo/video is taken now. And, when you take the video something in the authentic experience is missed. If the photo-video-status-update had some interrupts now it gets it’s own CPU to run all the time

    2. ShanaC

      I’m of the firm opinion that technology that comes from porn filters down into every day life.Still, I think we risk becoming our machines too much if we go too far down the path that glass has wroth

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Porn was first highly competitive market online, so being innovative makes sense.

    3. fredwilson

      i am trying to get my hands on one.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Me too, though $1,500 pre-purchase price is better spent elsewhere right now, unless I find a donor to try them out.. 😉

      2. Matt A. Myers

        Hopefully you get a pair and would be allowed to let us play with them at next AVC meetup whenever that may be.

  13. muratcannoyan

    It’s not a stretch to think of the iPhone interface as an “innovation” and bringing more simplicity to any UI or UX is not only valuable but very hard to do as our world becomes ever more complex. There is however no comparison to the simplicity that voice recognition or machine learning brings compared to a UI innovation. Google is just killing it in that respect, and Siri is not even usable.

  14. Wells Baum

    Voice recognition and mind reading obviate the need to type and search.Your smartphone is your second brain, one that’s already ahead of your next thought.As the soon as the phone has enough predictive information, it’ll completely dominate our mind. We’ll inevitably let it and Google’s algorithm decide our fate.Are we really going to let phones think for us, kind of like we’ve really been doing for decades on calculators?Shortcuts kill brain cells, even if we get a hit of dopamine from saving time and doing something pleasurable instead.Thinking is painful. We only relieve the stressed mind when we progress and reach some type of certainty.Predictive search doesn’t leave open the possibility of forgetfulness and randomness that lead to remarkable discoveries.Automation darkens the brain. We become the machines, lemmings of starved emotion.”Guess me if you can”

  15. laurie kalmanson

    waiting for the implant

  16. markslater

    to fred’s quote -I bought a nexus 2 weeks ago – what an absolute nightmare. i immediately went back to IOS. its not even close when it comes to design and EASE OF USE. Android on nexus is way over designed. i passed the phone to 5 colleagues in the office and asked them to open the camera and locate my photo roll. not a single person could find it within 5 seconds.Google (of which i am a huge fan) might excel under the covers – but we live in a design world. We live in an ease-of-use world. No one cares how things work – they just need to work……Google is a horrendous user-interface company. The problem is their engine room is so frikin good, we continue to use the tools regardless. If they actually became a design company, not just a science company, then we’d really see some amazing stuff.

    1. JamesHRH

      I think you are agreeing violently (or you have the other side of the coin).Fred’s point is that the engine is getting so good that UI – which is essentially just anticipating the user’s needs – may soon be irrelevant.

      1. markslater

        ok…..i am still a glutton for amazing design…..

        1. LE

          “i am still a glutton for amazing design…..”Much of the (mass) internet is a matter of taking advantage of the low hanging fruit of opportunity where the design doesn’t matter as much (especially when you are giving away something for free). After all there is no consumer reports steering people toward one product vs. another or Car and Driver etc. where it matters. That said people have been able of course to take advantage of the complexity with free products by offering a paid service for the same thing.Let’s say there is a gold rush and people are heading west in droves to prospect for gold. There is more demand then supply or a constant increasing demand. So the quality of the product doesn’t matter you just want something that can dig or carry dirt or whatever. And the first guy you hit you will buy the shovel from.Much of the people involved in Internet businesses were born into internet businesses. They have not had the experience of going into a market with competition and having to care about building a better product to get customers from the competition or treating people the right way so you don’t loose them to the competition. They are not opening an Italian restaurant in a neighborhood with 10 others they are running a high school cafeteria and just serving food to hungry students.

          1. markslater

            yes – they see it through the lens of the “wild west” – i think in some areas we are seeing for sure what you are saying……



    2. LE

      ” i passed the phone to 5 colleagues in the office and asked them to open the camera and locate my photo roll. not a single person could find it within 5 seconds”Mark goes 25 notches up in my ranking system for saying this. And those were 5 colleagues of yours not even what I have called in the past “normals”.”Google is a horrendous user-interface company. The problem is their engine room is so frikin good, we continue to use the tools regardless. If they actually became a design company, not just a science company, then we’d really see some amazing stuff.”Agree. But my theory is always this stuff comes from the top. They don’t have the seat of the pants feel for the benefits of that so it’s hard for them to hire or deploy resources in that area.I mean look at all the annoying noises that a windows machine makes when it boots up and alerts you to things. Did you know that BMW actually researches the tones that their car uses for alerts? There is an entire sound lab dedicated to just that experience.Isn’t amazing that American car companies with all their resources can’t get the design thing down like the Europeans can? It’s not because they don’t have the money to hire the best designers it’s that without the top understanding the process the best designers alone won’t do the trick. Nor will you even understand the benefits of putting money into this area.

      1. markslater

        oh you hit the nail on the head there – climb in a german car – it is the perfect combination of design meets engineering. Any one who claims that an american car is even on the same race track…..has never climbed in a german car.

    3. fredwilson

      everyone’s experience is different. the gotham gal had an android, loved it, then heard how great the iPhone was. i got her an iPhone 4. she begged for her android back after a week. that iPhone sits on my desk now, gathering dust.

      1. markslater

        yes. imho Iphone is a far superior designed product – the problem is as i know you’ll agree – its too closed for my liking….

  17. ShanaC

    You know, if you start reading the Leviathan (hobbes) the first thing that happens is a discussion of the eye. The discussion around the processing power of GPUs and neural nets reminds me of the same discussion – you can’t organize information unless you have a lot of it.The thing is, I don’t think google has enough information, and nor do I think they have a headstart on the algorithm game. There is a ton in the human sensory experience (taste for example) that is not well captured by computers, and difficult for humans to record (proust and his madelines) The human experience is extremely variegated from a day to day basis.Meanwhile, the president is funding brain research. But the fruition of that kind of research is a long ways off, more than enough time for someone else to see applications of its earliest seeds.

    1. Tom Labus

      I love the 10 year project to map the brain. It’s like the 10 year space program to get us to the Moon.

      1. ShanaC

        yup. And long overdue that we have a project such as mapping the brain 🙂

  18. JLM

    .I am chuckling because I followed Fred’s lead in adopting an Android phone and a Nexus tablet.I am a Frandroid and Frexus kind of person. Intellectually lazy but when you got Fred — and all of his cohort at — playing the brain in your own little personal drama, where’s the downside, I ask you?”Hey, I’m having whatever he’s having.”Not a bad recommendation yet.I have been using the voice recognition like a crazy person. I love it.The convergence, improvement and simplicity of EVERYTHING is just unbelievable. I cannot remember how I used to look up the weather once upon a time.Now — “Weather, Austin, Texas” — voila! Plus the voice is just damn cheery at zero dark thirty.Is this a great time to be alive or what?JLM.

    1. fredwilson

      yes it is!

  19. BlairMacGregor

    A question on behalf of the uninitiated when it comes to voice recognition: What are the key differences between these neural network algorithms that the Google team have come up with and how Siri processes this same information? Is there an easily discernible difference as to why the latter seems to be so far behind Android?

  20. RudyC

    Totally agree w/the google statement. They are the best by far. It’s funny that google collects so much more info than FaceBook ever does, yet people distrust FaceBook more. I think it’s because its an easier concept to grasp.More importantly, design should not be limited to the UI or hardware of a company. There’s a comment that always sticks in my mind, the more things change the more they stay the same.Ironic isn’t it that web design has stayed the same since the beginning?

  21. Pete Griffiths

    Completely agree.And these advances are made possible in large part by the sheer size of today’s data sets and more particularly of Google’s.One point that is perhaps not sufficiently recognized is the implications of the sheer scale of Google’s infrastructure and hence data sucking, storing and processing machine. Just to be clear the challenges of this kind of scaling are staggering and Google is light years ahead of everyone in this game. To the best of my knowledge nobody as anything remotely like the Spanner database (that uses atomic clocks installed at all Google data centers. ) Apple doesn’t even come close. The key consequence is that there will be an increasing number of capabilities and products that emerge as a consequence of this pure scale.This is a brilliant talk on the point of the importance of sheer scale of data sets for improving the quality of AI by Peter Novig of Google.

  22. matthughes

    I was checking out Google Sky on a friend’s Android phone the other day – it was awesome.We spotted Saturn and a whole fascinating conversation ensued.No Google Sky on iOS to my knowledge.

  23. heyehd

    I used to say that the sole purpose of technology was to make itself indispensable. Now I say its to make itself invisible.

    1. FlavioGomes

      Yes. I’m tired of devices and screens and the current methods of interfacing.

  24. iamronen

    to me the most striking part of the wired piece was this:”When you talk to Android’s voice recognition software, the spectrogram of what you’ve said is chopped up and sent to eight different computers housed in Google’s vast worldwide army of servers.”I don’t view Google as a successful company when it comes to UI. They are an engineering oriented company and it is in engineering that they shine … hence this amazing break through that “my phone” (or any Android device?) is neither a “device” nor a “phone” nor “mine”. That is the audacity of Google design.To benefit from this strategy Google needs to achieve an invasion of privacy on an unbelievable scale (which it seems to be achieving) … which I still hope will be stopped … and in case, as Albert just wrote (…, it poses a major security threat.

    1. raycote

      Maybe and important part of turning data into useful social action is gaining the collective experience to recognize all the personal-minutiae data we can essentially ignore in order to get on with our personal and collective priorities?DNA does not only store all the knowledge of successful survival mechanisms but ultimately represents even more information about what can successfully be ignored and left unprocessed.

      1. iamronen

        I am not sure I understand or agree with what you wrote about DNA however I am more then happy to emrbace the metaphor (to further make my point):DNA holds not just an “individual profile” but accumulated information (biological wisdom) of an entire species. However all that information and the ability to act on it resides in an individual creature.The fact that Google is trying to get a hold on our shared “Digital DNA” is, in my opinion, wrong. I am all for us benefitting from our mutual digital experiences. May Google (or someone else) find the way not just to aggregate that kind of information but to also package in such a way that it can exist and be activaed on an individual devices without having to be hooked, dependent and exposed to Google.Google systemically exemplifies potentially fantastic technology with messed up motivations. The motivations, I believe, are messed up because they are tied into their messed business model … which is not sustainable. Technology: A; Sustainability: F;

        1. raycote

          Yes indeed that DNA blueprint is protected against collapse and amplified in its evolutionary reach by the fact it propagates as a distributively redundant and independently recombinant environmental agent.DNA never needs to communicate with a Google or Facebook DNA-like mothership in order to locally execute its behavioural methods.If one views the species as a single high level noospheric cognitive entity/agent then its evolutionary path to greater social complexity is through an evermore network-synchronized collectively-organic digital nervous system.But that collective noosphere, that collective digital nervous system, needs to revolve around a Big-Data-Silo of Social-Exchange-Functions that operate as an open Public-Utility. Localized central control via corporate players like Google or Facebook is probably an unavoidable and maybe even necessary shot term experimental cul-de-sack given the dominant realities of contemporary corporate culture.A federated interplay of independently-generated Google-Wave like structures all weaving themselves into, organically-recombinant, purpose-driven, neural-nets of truly democratic social exchange would have much greater potential as a organically democratic(distributively recombinant) medium for the evolution of our collective digital nervous system.My pet conspiracy theory is that Google killed off Google-Wave because they realized just what a mind-field of decentralized hurt it would bring to their central control based business model.

  25. hypermark

    I have two conflicting perspectives on this topic.One, is as a developer, Android **still** is not on the radar as the first device that I’d develop for, nor is it for most developers I know. Frankly, the monetization and fragmentation relegate it to a distant third (behind optimizing for two different iOS devices).Case in point, other than Google’s apps, we have yet to see the eponymous ‘Android first’ third-party apps. Something’s amiss there, I think, which says something since it’s not like Apple has done a great job on curation, discovery and yield for developers. Why do you think that is? Are there many (or any) Union Square investments where the apps strategy was/is to target Android first?Now, as a user I do think that Google has gotten religion on design. You can see the progress in a great app like Maps, which combines lots of modalities in a way that is both intuitive and pleasing. You can see the coherency in how Glass is being maked and baked. Even G+ sucks less and less each day.My biggest question relative to Google remains whether they are like the car companies that roll out concept cars that tell a good story, but never amount to serious game changers in terms of revenue and profits.I don’t think that that’ll be the case, but the line between R&D, concept products and taking the “long view” is hard to decipher until we have the benefit of seeing what ships and what tips the needle.Microsoft is Exhibit A in this regard (of how not to do it).

    1. fredwilson

      i am finally starting to see a bunch of android first startups. the market share globally is just too much to resist.

      1. hypermark

        Interesting. It makes intuitive sense, and you have to wonder why Google didn’t put more marketing dollars behind an “android first” initiative, as that is the one big fly in the ointment to the android ecosystem story. That noted, you may have seen this story yesterday, ironically enough, linked to by gruber:

  26. Pete Griffiths

    I think it is going to get harder and harder for Apple to compete with Google. They most definitely have huge strengths but the core challenge is that more and more future products will be information products devised from insights gained by access to massive data sets and requiring bleeding edge technology to derive actionable insights. Google is a data science company to its core. Nobody has anything like the data scale and data science scale of Google and it’s murderously difficult to build a competing competence. Voice is just the tip of the iceberg. We are going to see more and more products that will be literally impossible to copy without the data.

  27. boikej

    “it is hard to imagine how they are not going to out innovate on the emerging user interfaces of our mobile future (glasses, watches, etc, etc)”… until these emerging interfaces are commoditized and readily available like every other similar tech category. this is a hard problem to solve but so was most of the tech we now take for granted. it won’t be long before any emerging UI is a 99-cent building block — app or otherwise.

  28. Montgomery Kosma

    My experience suggests that design and machine learning are mostly orthogonal. (In one of my prior lives, I was an interaction designer, and in another, a big data and operations research scientist).Machine-driven observation and optimization techniques like simulated annealing can be fantastic for improving around the edges on a design that’s baseline good. They can even avoid problems of local maxima and get you to what appears to be an “optimal” solution. But any success depends on defining the playing field accurately in the first instance — including its dimensions and scoring methodology.The problem is, the elements of design offer too many dimensions. Not only that, but the scoring of any particular design tends to have many dimensions. This quickly rises to the point where machines simply cannot cope.Computers still can’t play a great game of Go, which merely has a 19×19 grid, three possible states per grid location, and a uniform and simple ruleset.Design, I think, has more in common with storytelling and psychotherapy than it does with number crunching. You have to know the story you are trying to tell, and you have to get inside people’s heads to figure out how best to convey that story to them.I know, put near-infinity monkeys in a room with near-infinity typewriters, and they’ll produce the Complete Works of Shakespeare. But how can you possibly know which of their near-infinity drafts is the one good one?monty

  29. Dave W Baldwin

    Many do not see what you’re saying Fred. Fact of matter is the development related to Machine Learning is going to truly start to take off expanding into many areas most do not realize and truly accelerate the end game.Voice is where it is at and it will be more than tabs and phones 😉

  30. Greg Fodor

    I think it’s important to consider what parts of Google’s ML chops are true economic moats or just illusions that will be commoditized by Xooglers jettisoning themselves into startups and giving them a REST API. Software IP as a competitive advantage has always been a loser’s game in the long run. Amazon certainly serves as a foil to Google in this sense: they want to commoditize everything devops, make it absurdly cheap, and charge you hourly for it. Google’s cloud services are consistently inferior because of the internal conflict of just how much of Wonka’s secrets are they going to give the public access to? (That said, the data they have is much more a barrier than their algorithm chops.)You can “cp -R” algorithms and to a large extent data, but you can’t do the same thing with taste, intuition, design, and a cohesive vision. This is why Apple’s advantages (and companies of similar spirit like Tesla) may very well be the more timeless and ultimately impenetrable, despite how shallow and on the verge of being swallowed they may seem at any moment. (As has been recently reflected in the AAPL’s stock price.) After all, when the master violinist comes out to play his 500th concert, it certainly seems just as likely that he may make a mistake as it ever has. (And he may be just as worried he will.) But somehow, what makes *him* the master violinist is against all odds he is the one that plays brilliantly, over and over again.

    1. fredwilson

      great comment Greg. But i think the data asset (and never ending flow of it) is an ML asset that those xoogler startups will not have access to

      1. Greg Fodor

        Yes I’d agree there that the data assets and their cost of replication is going to drive everything else. The future is hard to predict — will Google own autonomous cars for a decade due to the lead they have on street view data or will the very existence of autonomous cars make it much easier for a startup with a bit of funding to bootstrap the same data for some sane up-front cost? If a particular dataset (or some substitute) can be acquired for some known cost and can be applied to a wide variety of problems, the wider market is going to demand that data as the algorithms to leverage it inevitably become commoditized. I think predicting just how exclusive the datasets Google has is tough, just like estimating the resilience of any other economic moat without the gift of hindsight (or of being Warren Buffett :)) Truly interesting times we live in!

  31. jason wright

    one monster benefit of using a mobile device to access avc is that it encourages more reading and less = education!

  32. John Revay

    OMG – Yesterday – I started typing a comment such that I could not wait to see Fred Styling in his Warby Parker inspired Google glasses …..:) i did not hit send as sometimes I worry that my comments are off topic……Fast forward to this AM…..i started my AM by reading the Google News feed…and what do I see a CNET article that Google plans to ask Warby Parker for some help in designing the Google glass line