A Bloomberg Exhibit now claims that the design of Apple products has improved since former chief design officer Jony Ive left the company.
He says that without the moderating influence of Steve Jobs, I’ve gone too far in favoring form over function, and that has since been corrected…
Jony Ive first retired from the product design direction in 2015 to focus on the Apple Park campus, before returning to his original role two years later. He then left the company in 2019. Apple says he still works with the company today as a consultant.
Bloomberg‘s Alex Webb says the pendulum is coming back from cool to practical.
Today’s Apple wouldn’t exist without Ive. He was the creative leviathan behind the look of the iMac, iPod, iPad, and most importantly, iPhone. Apple’s approach to design-driven product development was considered pioneering. But there was often a tension between form and function: whether the appearance of a device outweighed its ease of use.
There was a feeling that, without the moderating influence of the late Steve Jobs, I might have started to prioritize aesthetics a little too much. Since stepping down as chief designer at the end of 2019, Apple seems to have focused on the function. From iPhone to Apple TV to Macbook, the days of “Damn the user, we think it looks cool.”
He argues that the new MacBook Pro is proof of that.
The unveiling of a new line of Macbook Pro laptops on Monday is proof of this change. The headlines published five years ago under Ive’s umbrella have been removed. Gone are the so-called “butterfly” keyboard, which made the device thinner but whose clumsy mechanics made typing more difficult; goodbye also to the touch bar, a touchscreen at the top of the keyboard that could display web browser functions at one point and mixing tools for music apps next, but was nearly impossible to use without looking; on the back are HDMI ports, which allow you to connect the computer to high-definition displays without using an adapter.
Such arguments are always tricky, as Apple designs products years before they launch, so it’s hard to say who would have led a particular design. It’s even more difficult for Ive, given the fluctuating nature of her role.
When Apple announced Ive was leaving in 2019, I argued that it had really checked four years earlier.
I had already taken a step back from direct responsibility for hardware and software design in 2015. The official line at the time was that this was a promotion, but it was clear to everyone that ‘it was a less practical role.
I suspect I wanted to leave at that point, but Apple managed to hold him back by letting him play with his new toy – Apple Park – while also carrying out his other responsibilities.
I am very convinced that Jony Ive left Apple in 2015. I think the idea of the independent designer for Apple is a PR effect, just like his promotion was the first time.
9to5Mac readers weren’t worried back then, with more than two-thirds of you believing that nothing would change or that it would be pretty good for Apple. Let us know in the comments what you think about it now.
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