Quip CEO talks the future of interfaces

Bret Taylor has had a lot of experience with different interfaces. He’s worked on maps at Google(s goog), feeds at FriendFeed (which was acquired by Facebook), and spent some time at Facebook(s fb). Now Taylor is the cofounder and CEO of Quip, a three-month-old, mobile-focused word processor. At Gigaom’s Roadmap conference Wednesday, he shared some thoughts about the future of interfaces.

When Taylor initially set out to launch Quip, he said that he was on a mission to “build the productivity suite for the mobile era.” To that end, Quip works on tablets, phones and PCs, which means there were many variables to consider when building an interface. According to Taylor:

Our focus had been, if we were to create this sort of core productivity application in this era of these connected devices, what would we do differently if we had the luxury of designing it from the ground up? So we spent a lot of time on things that aren’t really related to typesetting. Our documents aren’t on virtual 8½ by 11 pieces of paper like most traditional word processors. And we spent a lot of time thinking about real-time collaboration, how push notifications integrate with the authoring process.

Ultimately, this means that much of Quip’s interface is focused on the mobile experience and collaboration, as opposed to just typesetting words on a page. But what sort of impact has that had on design?

“One thing I’m really proud of at Quip is that our tablet app and our desktop app look identical… It wouldn’t surprise me if we see a trend towards lower density and towards simplicity, largely driven by the necessity of making [apps] work well on smaller screens,” Taylor said.

So in an increasingly mobile world, with increasingly complex technology, we might actually find that user interfaces become simpler as developers try to cast their nets as widely as possible.

Check out the rest of our Roadmap 2013 live coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:

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A transcription of the video follows on the next page