It finally happened. One of the key drivers behind some of Apple’s most iconic designs and products, Jony Ive, has left the company.
To non-tech fans this may not sound like a big deal, after all how important can a designer be at a tech company?
But as we all know, Apple isn’t just another tech company, and Ive was a key player that had the ear of founder Steve Jobs throughout the CEO’s second tenure at the company.
According to reports, he operated with near impunity and for years at Apple the law was: what Ive says goes.
This led to iconic designs that helped make everything from the iMac, iPod and iPhone to Apple Stores become the dominant force they are today.
Which is why for those old enough to remember the original iPhone and iPad launch, the idea of an Apple without Ive is an alien concept that’s hard to imagine.
But for use here at Trusted, the impact may be a little less cataclysmic than some commentators have suggested. Here’s why.
Related: Best iPhone 2019
How Jony Ive leaving Apple will affect the iPhone
By deputy editor Alastair Stevenson
Truth be told Ive’s design philosophy has touched nearly every generation of the iPhone. This is evident with the company’s ongoing focus to make each new iPhone, including the iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max as thin and light as possible.
But whether it’s because, as reports suggest, Ive’s been losing interest in taking a direct hands-on approach since the original Apple Watch launched, or the company wanting to move in a different direction, the influence has not necessarily been a positive.
The Apple iPhone isn’t innovating the way it used to and Android phones are, in my mind, far more interesting these days. This is debatably due to the fact Apple reportedly operates on the same “design” first philosophy Ive and Steve Jobs worked under. This peaked with the iPhone 3GS – where Apple famously mucked up the phone’s antenna design in order to keep it looking nice.
This is showcased by the Android platform’s early move to multi-camera sensors and varied attempts to get round the notch dilemma Apple introduced. To date we’ve seen everything from hole-punch front camera designs, like the Galaxy S10’s, to pop up cameras, like the OnePlus 7 Pro’s. Android is also the first platform to offer users 5G connectivity, something Apple reportedly won’t be able to do until next year at the earliest.
Cliffs notes: Recent iPhones have failed to match the technical specifications and feature sets offered on most Android modern rivals.
This could be a key reason why, if the current rumours are to be believed, Apple has decided to take an “interesting” design step on its fabled iPhone 11. I refer here to the numerous leaked images and renders showing an iPhone distinctly un-Ive ugly square housing for the iPhone 11’s new multi-sensor rear camera.
Though the housing looks less than alluring in the ‘leaked’ renders, if accurate, it is at least a positive sign Apple is finally trying to compete at a hardware – rather than just design – level again. Which for me, has been a long time coming and a key problem resulting from Ive’s strong influence at the company.
How Ive leaving Apple will affect the MacBook
By computing editor Thomas Newton
The MacBook Air was a design marvel when Steve Jobs first pulled it from its manila envelope sheath over ten years ago. And to some extent, it still is. Rivals, like the Dell XPS 13 and Huawei MateBook X Pro have copped the MacBook Air style, and even the latest MacBook Airs are new variations on the old theme Ive created.
Even the newer MacBook Pros have slimmed down to such a degree that they’re only marginally less skinny than their Air brethren. So with the departure of Ive, we’ll perhaps see future MacBooks and MacBook Airs adopt more radical changes.
Perhaps Apple will take the ‘Air’ concept to its ultimate conclusion, and release the world’s first portable laptop – with charging handled via an inductive pad and file transfers and connectivity handled by a combination of integrated 5G and gigabit WiFi.
Related: Best laptop 2019
Or, on a more superficial level, maybe Apple will start experimenting with new materials for future lifestyle laptops. While the HP Spectre Folio model I picked up had a couple of key foibles, I really liked the look and feel of the product. HP’s choice to step away from the standard metal-and-plastic pack was something I’d honestly expected Apple to do.
However, with its renewed PR focus on being green – new MacBook Air chassis are now entirely made from recycled metal – going for a leather case might not have been the best move.
Alternatively with Ive now going his own way, we might see a return to scissor-switched keys on a future MacBook line. But personally, and I appreciate that I am a minority in this opinion, I actually like the feel of the new butterfly-switched keys. They’re unusual, I’ll grant you that, but few laptops I’ve used in recent years (with the exception of the maglev keys of the excellent Dell XPS 15 2-in-1) can offer a typing experience that’s as good.
Feelings on the typing experience aside, there’s no ignoring the fact that MacBook’s current design isn’t very robust. If as Jon Gruber suggests, the keyboard nightmare stemmed from Ive’s obsessive nature, and a desire to have future MacBooks be as thin as possible. Whoever takes over as Apple’s chief design guru would do well not to let aesthetic perfectionism override functionality.
Related: Best TV 2019
How Jony Ive leaving will affect the Apple TV
By deputy news editor Aatif Sulleyman
The news of Jony Ive’s departure has thrown up some intriguing details surrounding Apple’s TV plans. According to The Information, the announcement has prompted current and former Apple staff members to spill the beans on a few products that Apple had been working on, but hasn’t yet released − one of which is an Apple television.
The report claims that Ive, upon taking over Apple’s software division in 2012, showed the firm’s Human Interface team Apple’s industrial design studio − and an Apple TV set.
“It was super-minimal,” is how The Information’s source described the device. “Just a piece of glass with nice details.”
That was seven years ago. Since then, of course, we’ve had five iterations of the Apple TV media player, but no television set. That project is almost certainly dead, but that’s not all.
TV hardware full stop hasn’t felt like a priority for Apple for some time now − the latest version of Apple TV, Apple TV 4K, was announced in September 2017. Simply put, the impact of Jony Ive’s departure will likely be felt much more in other areas of Apple’s business.
And over recent months, Apple has made it abundantly clear that the upcoming Apple TV Plus streaming service is its main TV-related focus right now. And with Netflix and Amazon currently dominant in the TV streaming space, and Disney cooking up its own subscription service, Apple’s already got its work cut out.