The Washington Post

Google social network designed by former Apple employee

A screen shot of the Google Plus social network is shown in this publicity photo released to Reuters on Tuesday. The user interface was designed by former Apple Macintosh designer Andy Hertzfeld. (HO/REUTERS)

The company’s new social network, Google +, is already getting praise across the Web for simply looking good. And, according to Wired, that praise is all thanks to head Google + designer Andy Hertzfeld — an original member of the Apple Macintosh team.

“I’ve heard in the past that (Google CEO) Larry Page didn’t like animations but that didn’t stop me from putting a lot of animations in, and Larry told me he loves it.” Hertzfeld told Steven Levy, author of the Google book, In the Plex. “Maybe Apple’s resurgence had a little bit to do with it.”

Animations are a big part of the Google + interface, particularly with the Circles feature. Add a contact to a Circles friend group and their profile picture whirls around with a unique HTML 5 animation. Delete a group, Levy reported, and the whole Circle drops to the bottom of the screen and disappears with a final bounce.

On Tuesday, in the wake of the + announcement, Google announced that it is rolling out new designs for its search pages and other products. The most noticeable change is one that’s been spotted by quite a few people in the past few days — a gray and black navigation toolbar that floats overhead on all Google pages.

The company also made a couple subtle changes to its homepage, shrinking its logo and moving the links to the edges of the page.

The redesign doesn’t stop there, according to digital creative director Chris Wiggins said in a blog post.

“Starting today and over the course of the next few months, look for a series of design improvements across all our products, including Google Search, Google Maps and Gmail,” he promised.

Related stories:

Google Plus takes aim at Facebook

Bing, Facebook want you to ‘like’ your search results

Google rolls out +1 in effort to socialize search

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.

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