The old Google TV remote Apple uses as an example of design gone wild

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Yoni Heisler
August 12th, 2014
In this article: design, Google TV
The old Google TV remote Apple uses as an example of design gone wild

In case you missed it yesterday, Brian X. Chen of The New York Times penned a short but sweet profile on Apple University, the internal education program at Apple where employees and executives can learn about important business decisions (and their repercussions) in Apple history.

One of the more interesting tidbits centered on Apple's penchant for simplistic design. In a course titled "What Makes Apple, Apple", Chen relays how an instructor named Randy Nelson from Pixar showed his class a gargantuan Google TV remote with 78 buttons to illustrate what happens when engineers and designers aren't focused on a core idea. In contrast, of course, Apple's own remote offering consists of just three buttons.

How did Apple's designers decide on three buttons? They started out with an idea, Mr. Nelson explained, and debated until they had just what was needed - a button to play and pause a video, a button to select something to watch, and another to go to the main menu.

The Google TV remote serves as a counterexample; it had so many buttons, Mr. Nelson said, because the individual engineers and designers who worked on the project all got what they wanted. But, Apple's designers concluded, only three were needed.

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, here's what the Sony Google TV remote in question looked like -- note this is from 2010.

And in stark contrast, Apple's own Apple TV remote.

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