Smarterbits

Close Reading of Apple and Google Presentation Slides

There is something fascinating about choosing words and the results of those choices. Why people choose a specific word over another is equally fascinating: What does it say about it’s author? What message do the chosen words convey? Who is that message addressed to?

I thought it would be interesting to compare Android and iOS not by a checklist of features, but rather by a checklist of the words their developers choose to use on their presentation slides. From that alone so much can be inferred. For example, here are what I think the boldest statements Apple and Google made during their keynote.

Apple simply stated:

The most amazing iPhone yet

Google asked:

Can a machine have a soul?

Talking about Siri:

Your intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking

Describing Roboto:

Roboto has a dual nature. It has a mechanical skeleton and the forms are largely geometric. At the same time the font’s sweeping semi-circular curves give it a cheerful demeanor. Isn’t there so much you can tell about these two companies by those words alone.

Here’s a list of some other snippets of presentation slide text from the iPhone 4S and Ice Cream Sandwich keynotes. You can click through the links to see from which presentations they come from, but for a fun challenge, try guessing from which company’s mouth the words were spoken (or projected in this case).

  • Bold and Typographic
  • Social Integration
  • Intelligently Stored on Device
  • 33% Faster Capture
  • Zero Shutter Lag
  • Better Color Accuracy
  • Revamped UI
  • Easily Locate Friends and Family
  • Make Me Awesome
  • Full HD Capture
  • Ultra Thin Design
  • Sleek and Curved Design

Depending on how well you guessed, you’ll have a different impression of how those words shape your perception of the company. If you were able to guess each one correctly, what does that say about the power of words in creating brand identity? Or is the opposite true? What can you surmise about each company’s different values and philosophies from those snippets alone? I would say there’s a definite contrast, nuanced as it is, between the two, but I wouldn’t go so far as to claim one is better than he other. I’m simply fascinated by how much you can learn from paying close attention to words.

    Still Need the Oxford Comma

    Linda Holmes:

    But when it matters, it really matters.

    Suppose that instead of the list of men our bachelorette met above, things went differently. Without the serial comma, she might say: “The best available men are the two tall guys, George and Pete.” There, you really don’t know whether George and Pete are the tall guys, or whether there are two tall guys in addition to George and Pete. You literally don’t know how many men you’re talking about, and while that level of confusion as to elementary facts seems like something that might actuallyhappen on The Bachelorette, it is unfortunate in other settings. If, on the other hand, you use the serial comma, then you would write that sentence only if you meant that George and Pete were the tall guys, and if you didn’t, you’d say, “I met two tall guys, George, and Pete.”

    Two men have just been created by that comma out of whole cloth. Boom! We’ve created life! Don’t you feel like Dr. Frankenstein

    It’s a fantastic read, especially for an article about grammar and punctuation. We’re so involved with writing from such a young age that it becomes hard sometimes to describe or explain why we use a certain rule in a given situation and not in another, even if we know we’re right; the rules become instinctive. At least, that’s how I feel. There’s always an ” AHA!” moment I enjoy when someone can finally put it into words for me.