Jony Ive Weighs in on Apple Park and the Future of the iPhone X

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Photo Source: Wallpaper

Jony Ive graced the cover of this month’s Wallpaper, a well-known magazine that covers design, and gave a lengthy interview that touched on the new Apple Park campus, some of his thoughts on his time at Apple, and of course, the new iPhone X. His words lend an interesting perspective to his latest creation, and shed light on how he views both it and the future of Apple devices.

On the iPhone X:

But if Ive is a maker and industrial designer in the classic mould – in love with materialising a particular curve, the tactility of a particular stone or brushed aluminium, the correct weight and balance of an object in your hand – he is also the man most responsible for making our new most essential objects all but disappear. ‘As a design team our goal has been, in some ways, to get design out of the way. We try to define a solution that seems so inevitable that it does recede.’

The most advanced iteration of the iPhone, the X, launched with great hoopla at the keynote address, is all screen. Except that’s the wrong way to look at it. The point is that, at least in the way we use it and understand it, it is entirely unfixed and fluid.

I wonder, then, if Ive misses the physical click and scroll of the first iPods, that fixed mono-functionality, the obvious working parts, the elegance of the design solution. But I’ve got him all wrong. ‘I’ve always been fascinated by these products that are more general purpose. What I think is remarkable about the iPhone X is that its functionality is so determined by software. And because of the fluid nature of software, this product is going to change and evolve. In 12 months’ time, this object will be able to do things that it can’t now. I think that is extraordinary. I think we will look back on it and see it as a very significant point in terms of the products we have been developing.’

Of course, Ive could simply be talking about the typical software updates that we expect to come to iOS. Maybe it’s wishful thinking on my part, but I hope he is talking about potentially bigger changes to the platform coming over the horizon. iOS 7 saw him decouple us from the software interface conventions that came before. Now we have the removal of the Home Button with the X. The Lock Screen and Home Screens really are the last vestiges of what was iPhoneOS 1. Maybe it’s time.

I do appreciate the pure focus on software that Ive describes here. There are still things in the way of complete focus on the screen, most notably the much talked about notch at the top of the iPhone X. That really seems like the last design concession of this device as it stands right now. I hope Mr Ive’s words point to its eventual disappearance. While I don’t hate it as much as some do, I would still prefer see it disappear into pure screen when possible.

Mr Ive went on to say:

‘So while I’m completely seduced by the coherence and simplicity and how easy it is to comprehend something like the first iPod, I am quite honestly more fascinated and intrigued by an object that changes its function profoundly and evolves. That is rare. That didn’t happen 50 years ago.’

That is an interesting thought, if a little bit abstract. Definitely more abstract than talking about the nuts and bolts of phone hardware. While I am intrigued by whether there is a grander vision in the background, the reality is, each individual run of hardware only gets to evolve so far, even with Apple’s happiness to give devices three or four years of OS upgrades.
On Multi-touch:
‘If you think of what multi-touch afforded, on the one hand it was so powerfully intuitive, because you could directly manipulate content,’ says Ive. ‘But because it wasn’t effected by physical buttons, you could create an interface that was very specific to an application. That’s why the App Store could be and you could have such an extraordinary range of applications and user interfaces.’
Again, Mr Ive’s focus really seems to be honed in on the elimination of physical buttons that get in the way of a configurable interface.
Lastly, when asked overall about his time at Apple, he responded:
‘When I look back over the last 25 years, in some ways what seems most precious is not what we have made but how we have made it and what we have learned as a consequence of that,’ he says. ‘I always think that there are two products at the end of a programme; there is the physical product or the service, the thing that you have managed to make, and then there is all that you have learned. The power of what you have learned enables you to do the next thing and it enables you to do the next thing better.’
The entire interview is WELL worth a read, and I highly recommend doing so. You can find the interview in its entirety here. Oh, and be sure to skip the cynical hit piece by Chaim Gartenberg of The Verge, who takes a few lame shots at the sparse magazine cover that Jony Ive designed for this edition of Wallpaper.
Maybe it isn’t for everyone, but it actually fits the tone of the interview contained within it very well, in my opinion. To each their own, but as I discussed yesterday, the technorati certainly love taking shots at a guy who is incredibly respected within the design field- a field few to none of them are actually a part of. I’ll take his colleagues’ praise over the tech press’ muttering.

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