Matias Duarte On iOS Vs. Android Looks: “Why Are Sicilians More Handsome Than Other Gentleman?”

Today during our Mobile First CrunchUp in Palo Alto, CA, our own Jason Kincaid led a panel focused on designing the mobile experience. On the panel were Bump’s Jake Mintz, Soundtracking’s Steve Jang, and Google’s Matias Duarte (the Director of User Experience for Android). Not surprisingly, much of the talk was iOS versus Android. Such is the state of the mobile world right now.

It was a good panel for such a talk because Soundtracking is iPhone-only right now, Bump is out there for both iPhone and Android, and Duarte is obviously an Android guy. Jason came right out with it. “Why are iPhone applications better looking than Android applications?”

After a laugh, Duarte answered. “Why are Sicilians more handsome than other gentleman?,” he asked, which brought even bigger laughs from the audience. In other words, this is a case where beauty is in the eye of the beholder, in his view.

But then he tried to answer the question more directly. “There’s no reason why you can’t have a beautiful Android app or an ugly iPhone app,” Duarte noted, saying that he sees a ton of Android applications every day (obviously), and many of them are very nice-looking.

“The Android ecosystem is honestly just a little younger,” he continued, to explain why some may view things this way. “You need to give people time to develop on it.”

Mintz had a theory along the same lines. “Right now we find it harder to hire Android developers. People who are really excited about mobile — iOS came out first,” he noted, again signaling that the iOS first-mover advantage. “They learned iOS first.”

But he also had another theory. “I bet if you put 100 designers in a room, more are Mac users and more are iPhone users,” Mintz said. “It’s reflecting the users of the platform,” he continued.

Jang agreed with Mintz. “There’s a cultural advantage working on the Mac platform. Most designers use Macs,” he said. “But now there’s an opportunity on both platforms for designers,” he continued, indicating Android’s huge growth.

All seemed in agreement that over-time, Apple’s iOS app design advantage will even out.