I can't help but notice over the last few days how great Google's suite of apps is looking these days. Though the top black bar threw me for a loop at first, I got used to it after a day and now that I've tried the new Gmail theme designs, as well as the new Google Plus, I'm kind of amazed at how well everything looks, works, and feels. It's kind of like that euphoric feeling the week after a new major OS update comes out for your favorite computer and everything just works better.
People thought it was Google hiring original Macintosh designer Andy Hertzfeld, but he set the record straight that his role was small and it was a whole team of great designers.
Here's my pet hypothesis: A bunch of designers at Google figured out a way to make their user testing reveal the benefits of better looking apps, sites, and pages. I don't know how they did it, either by honestly sharing better looking apps or subterfuge, either way I don't care because I love the end result and it's something I never thought in a million years would happen, but Google products suddenly look well-designed.