Hello Google, Hello London. I’m back :)

london

via Giphy

It’s Sunday evening. I’m a bit all over the place after getting off a plane this week. My wife and I took a Virgin Atlantic flight on Thursday night and landed at Heathrow on Friday morning. It was a one-way trip.

Wait? What?

After nearly three and half amazing years in New York, I’m back in London. I’m excited to say I’m starting a great new job and will be joining a fantastic team as Head of Production, Creative Lab, Google.

Writing that it I can’t help but think I’m about to get found out in the biggest way possible. We’ll see…..

I’m going to miss the team in New York and the city. I don’t have the superlatives to explain how fucking awesome it was (yes, I said awesome… I’m allowed). During my time there I worked on 60+ projects; some big, some small, some successful, some failures. I never thought I’d be given the opportunity to create a new brand for [one of] the biggest companies in the world. But I was. And we did. Along with a bunch of other amazing stuff.

“It also felt like a good moment to tidy up and hit reset on a bunch of stuff. Especially digital things like email, tags, folders and social. I ran FullContact on iCloud, Google, and LinkedIn to merge and de-dupe the data – and hit delete on the old shit. After that I killed Angel List, G+, Instagram, Product Hunt, Snapchat, Squarespace, Tumblr, Twitter, Vimeo, Vine, Youtube and more. From today @hellokinsella is dead. A new and shiny @kinsellaxyz is alive.”

But this isn’t about the work I did. It’s about the work I’m going to do. I’m super excited to be joining a team that is already knocking it out of the park. Here’s a snapshot:

In September 2015, the team worked on a project called Assembly of Youth, which used feature phones and SMS to bring the voices of children around the world directly to their representatives at the United Nations General Congress. It presented them to some of the world’s most influential people in a powerful display in the atrium of the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

In response to the Syrian refugee crisis, the team worked alongside the International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps to launch the Refugee Info Hub. Built and launched in just 36 hours, the portal brings valuable information to the thousands of refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria and making their way to Europe. Within four months of the Hub’s launch the platform had been used in 18 locations across Europe by more than 30 NGOs, and helped more than 100,000 refugees.

More recently Project Jacquard, which “makes it possible to weave touch and gesture interactivity into any textile using standard, industrial looms”, won the Cannes Product Design Grand Prix.

And this week they launch Project Bloks, “a research project aiming to create an open hardware platform to help developers, designers, and researchers build the next generation of tangible programming experiences for kids”.

I start tomorrow. Wish me luck.

Tulum, Mexico 2016

Back in NY, just returned from an fantastic short break in Mexico with Steph. We stayed at the gorgeous Casa Malca in Tulum for 4-days. So beautiful and peaceful. Wish we could’ve stayed longer.

Tulum.jpg
Taken with the Leica Q #nofilter

View photos in the gallery.

One of the highlights while we were there we catching an couple of electronic musicians, producers, and live performers from Córdoba, Argentina.

One made beats and played them with Ableton Live and a MIDI keyboard. The other jammed live with a chromatic harmonica & pedal FX. It was like deep space Vangelis. Perfect for the setting. Perfect for the vibe.

Needed the break after putting a shift in at work (see last few posts) but feeling recharged and inspired. Don’t spend your money on stuff. Spend it on experiences and memories.

Meet Gboard: Search. GIFs. Emojis & more. Right from your keyboard

In 2014 a few of us had been talking about future surfaces and interfaces. There’d been some conversations about text as interface and other stuff. We’d played with the idea of using the keyboard as a space to try a little hack. But nothing had bitten, so we put it away in the top drawer.

In 2015 another project we’d been working on inspired a few people to take a fresh look. They made a Spark Card (a one-page slide that summarizes an idea) for a Google powered keyboard and called it Gboard. We sketched design concepts. Made mocks and thew together a quick prototype. People were into it. So we made a shiny deck and site, put a bow on it, and gave the idea to Google.

We then paused everything to focus on creating a new brand system for Google. You can read more about that here – but it meant we were heads down and went dark for months.

howitworksXL
Early concept sketches
tricks-XL
Early concept sketches

During that time a team in Mountain View starting looking at making a keyboard for iOS. Google had a great keyboard for Android and wanted to make something for iPhone users. We started talking and soon a small team from Creative Lab were out on the West Coast for a design sprint.

In a few months we had builds ready for Teamfood, Fishfood, Dogfood and shortly afterwards a production build ready to ship. We got our final Apple approvals and on Thursday May 12th we flipped the switch…. Gboard was live in the AppStore.

Google announced it:

Shared the videos on YouTube:

Press starting talking about the features:

gboard_gif_googleInYourKeyboard
Google in your keyboard
gboard_gif_regularSearch
Search in your keyboard
gboard_gif_emojiGifSearch
Emoji search, GIF search, Glide typing

And people seem to like it:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Early results look good:

– #1 in App Store
– 4.5★ rating from 3,500+ reviews
– 350k downloads on day 1 in US

I’m happy with this one. A new product from beginning to end, and supporting launch comms. A small team with a wide skill set came together to make something great. Love that. It would’ve been impossible to get it done without an amazing team. You know who you are. Thanks for the big effort. And to everyone who’s still reading… download, install, enjoy, we hope you like it.

Get it now in the App Store in English in the U.S., with more languages to come.

Links:
Apple AppStore
Official Google Blogpost
Launch Video (1.2m views)
YouTube Series (395k view)
Instagram Social Video (89k views)

More Reading:
Turning User Hacks into Product Insights (Great insights)

 

LA Funtimes… with the Leica Q (Typ 116)

I recently bought the new Leica Q from Ken Hansen (if you want great Leica dealer–I highly recommend him) and was lucky enough to be able to take it for a spin during a trip to Los Angeles.

LA
Taken with the Leica Q #nofilter

View some photos in the gallery.

This was the first time I’d used the camera, but wow, what an amazing piece of kit. There’s a lovely quote from Ken Hansen to Craig Cutler which I’ve pulled from the Leica Camera blog to share:

“These are the best lenses in the world, choose your f/stop, set your shutter speed, start shooting, and throw away the owner’s manual. It’s that simple.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Like a lot of people I totally fell in love with this camera. It’s next level no-compromise product design. But more importantly I had fun shooting with it–and am looking forward to throwing it my bag, taking more photos, and maybe even becoming a better photographer in 2016.

It’s also an absolute stunner.

(via)

leicaq

leica