Jony Ive’s minimalist design sensibilities likely to reshape the future of iOS, OS X

“Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook announced a new role for Jonathan Ive, the company’s senior vice president of industrial design: taking the lead in directing the design of the company’s software, too,” Daniel Eran Dilger reports for AppleInsider.

“This week, Cook announced that ‘Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company in addition to his role as the leader of Industrial Design. His incredible design aesthetic has been the driving force behind the look and feel of Apple’s products for more than a decade,'” Dilger writes. “That gives Ive and his design team a broader focus, one that has been widely interpreted to mean a replacement of various fiefdoms of design at Apple that haven’t always synched up well. The most obvious has been heavily ornamented user interface concepts created by Scott Forstall.”

Dilger writes, “Apple’s design future will also need to balance the extreme of sophisticated, minimalist, utilitarian design with the whimsical, rich and customizable options many users like. In that regard, Ive is more likely to favor Apple’s traditional route of leaning toward clean, expertly designed layouts, scaling back some of the flourish of Calendar and the oddball OS X Contacts. However, based on Ive’s own words about his design ethos, its likely he will want to do more than just ensure Apple has a unified design language across its software platforms. Ive’s desire to rethink products from their starting point would have to require a fresh perspective of things that have grown stale.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: We can’t wait!

Related articles:
Now the real Jony Ive era begins at Apple Inc. – October 30, 2012
Tim Cook takes full control of Apple: John Browett and Scott Forstall out; Jony Ive, Bob Mansfield, Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi get expanded responsibilities – October 29, 2012


    1. I’m mixed. There has to be a balance between beautiful apps with a touch of skeuomorphism, and clunky, stodgy apps where a calendar is a grid with numbers. I think a little touch engages the user. I’m not saying it should be the primary feature (“Well, our calendar is better, because when I go to the next month it looks like I tore off the page.”), but when I first switch to Mac, I immediately fell in love with the look and feel of the software. The graphic transitions like when a window shrinks down into the app icon on the dock on minimize, etc. just blew me away, and was an attractive visual that drew my other Windows friends to embrace Mac.

      But ultimately, the app itself has to function incredibly, not just offer pretty visuals. Passbook is an example of the worst implementation of this, with totally warped priorities. “Man, it’s great! I don’t yet know how to use it, because it’s not intuitive or self-explanatory, and doesn’t include any instructions. But when it does work, my used tickets and coupons will be put into a virtual shredder. It’s really cool!”

      You could see that Scott Forstall’s entire presentation of Passbook was an excuse to get to that point where he could show off the shredder. Skeumorphism is a good thing, but when it becomes THE thing — an obsession — something has to change…

      1. I agree, as my eyesight isn’t what it was I can appreciate how the present icons are superb for easy recognition (in most cases) where the minimal 80s style 2D icons of Windows 8 are dreadful to comprehend leading to excessive reading of text for clarity (how very post war) so I do hope that JI doesn’t lose sight of such matters himself when freshening things up.

    2. Would all of the skeuomorphic bashing please ease up? I’m not a fan of every implementation of it, but It has ALWAYS been a part of the Mac concept since version 1.

      If not for some level of skeuomorphic design, then the “Trash Can” would have been the “Directory for Files Soon to be Deleted.” Or the Desktop might be called “A persistent window for commonly used items.”

      This was always part of Steve Jobs’ concept for making the Mac a computer “for the rest of us.”

      You can’t be a Steve Jobs fanboy AND be a relentlessly smug basher of skeuomorphic design.

    1. I think all this skeuomorphism belittling offsets the actual issue. Skeuomorphism is not a problem and should be deemed necessary. The problem is the appearance of stuff on the screen and whether or not it is both pleasing to look at and the best possible implementation of it that can be made.

      It’s such a pleasure to witness these turn of events with Jony Ive now in charge of both the front and back of the look of the device. I’m hoping this extra workload was in fact a pleasant and a wanted position for him. I also hope he has high ambitions, lol!

      1. “Ive’s desire to rethink products from their starting point would have to require a fresh perspective of things that have grown stale.”

        Compare – iPhone / iPad / iPad mini / iPod touch / iPod mini
        then compare Macbook Air / iMac / Mac Mini / MacBook Pro

        The designs are not consistent.
        And the revisions are stale. However, the products do still hold a strong and lasting appearance. But Ives is not designing here.

        The look of all current products do not have a over all – CONSISTENT COHERENTLY UNIFIED family of products.
        Blame this on Jony.

        iPodTouch with colours is rather a bad move. It uses technology of iPhone but does not use the similar frame work or construction. The colour has no purpose. Fun sure. Bondi Blue it comes in colours is an old fashion Apple trick to refresh a product line. And for many people will want to buy a gel protector cases which shall cover the colour anyways.

        iPod mini are rather square-ish. This is very much inline with Microsoft 8 Nokia Phone style and look. Totally out of the rounded corners Apple has placed on iOS devices. Where is the family trademarks of aluminum metal – the choice of black or white. Just junky toy look. However the product is damn solid and wonderful nevertheless.

        NOW JONY is lead of HI???
        Come on… he HAS NOT EVEN unified the hardware yet.
        But MDN is hoping he will do a great job?

        NO WAY.

    2. Clearly someone who doesn’t appreciate it’s considerable qualities in improving comprehension. The foundation of its concept is not and never has been about prettying up. It communicates extremely well even when people don’t appreciate it that ability must not be lost in any redesign whatever form it takes or perhaps we reverse that 1984 advert to reflect this new lust for corporate conformity.

  1. I’d really like to see their software take cues from their pro apps. I can’t even express in words how much I hate Contacts and Calendar. Apple really blew their opportunity to redesign both into world-class professional looking apps. After all, who relies on both the most? Exactly, professionals.

    1. iOS is the most simplest and computer to use.
      The unification of OSX and IOS was not needed.
      In fact, I hope Ives BRAKES this…

      iOS is fine to be the dumbed down easy for everyone computer
      While OSX should become the all pro – totally different

      however the TWO systems talk and sync perfectly
      without any setup or worry.

    1. Yeah, non professional coder, non software UI specialist ushers in “lighter” “minimalist” revolutionary OS and make everything magical by bathing it in “cool British accent”. Sometimes, fellow Apple fans embarrass themselves.

      1. No one expects Ive to be a “coder” himself, that’s just dumb. You don’t need to know how to write a single line of code to design a beautiful, functional interface. It’s up to the codemonkeys to make Ives mock-ups and drawings real.

  2. It wasn’t Ive, it was Jobs. Very similarly perhaps to what they’re croaking about Mr. Forstall being Jobs’ man but not Jobs himself etc.

    Ive is OK, not too shabby I’d contend. But without Jobs, I’m not convinced he is the genius everyone making him out to be.

      1. You could be right. I appreciate your pointing out my possible blind spot on this. I should mention, I do have just a glimpse of a passing knowledge on UI design — I had to sit in a robotics to human interface design class in my masters of space studies. The primary professor was a psychiatrist who worked at NASA, while most of us were aerospace engineering students.

        I mention this simply because, deep levels of UI design that affect us profoundly, need interdisciplinary integration. Going back to Apple, hardware + software integration often work magically as they tend to stay away from the conscious foreground. However, deep resonance and affinity in Apple hardware I have experienced with Apple’s interpretation of Snow White design philosophies long before Ive. With software, the Mac OS 7.x (to some extent 9.x) and NeXTSTEP made me giddy with joy as a user. I miss profound discoveries in applications such as HyperCard.

        I think Mr. Forstall understood these better than most folks realise; he served as a great lieutenant under Jobs for many successful years. OTOH, I’ve been disappointed with Ive’s design of plastic iPhone 3G, iBook, hockey mouse etc. On the MBP, I don’t like power cords on one side, or the 2nd generation magnetic cord that’s parallel, or the sleep LED mimicking human sleep breathing (very gimmicky to be honest), or you have to look/feel around to insert a headset jack properly etc. I think Mr. Ive is fairly good, but what carried him to the heights is the genius who is no longer with us. That’s my personal opinion, and I sincerely hope Mr. Ive will prove me wrong over the years to come.

    1. I agree mostly.

      Yes industrial designers require knowledge and understanding of Graphic Design and Ergonomics (one could consider this some part of UI design – I don’t) but also in addition a very good understanding of Engineering. Industrial Design is about a 4 to 6 year coarse plus another 7 years Engineering.

      Jony is talented but very over rated. There is no simpler way to state this. In fact the Designs of iPhone 4 and 5, iPad mini, Macbook Air and iMac are all — REVISIONS not new designs. And the revisions are mostly due to advancements in technology, a fitting issue for the Engineers. Jony Ives merely needed to Art Direct not Design here. And since the DESIGNS of APPLPE shall not change — IVES is out of a JOB. Hence UI he shall shift to… good luck.

      I guarantee he will fall flat on his face…
      but the people under him will let make him shine.
      My opinion, he’s the wrong man for the Job.

    1. Dont think so but most software designers depend on the LOOK or GUI and in that Ive is king.
      Remember Steve Jos banding affect? He did not write the code but came up with the idea eh…

      so Jony Ive has a good eye and if the coders are talented then it is a done deal

    2. It isn’t about him designing the software himself. It IS about Ive directing the best to do their best with the vision he has. He doesn’t do all the work in hardware design. He directs the best to do their best. It is a team effort.

    3. Honestly I think Ive might have had something to do with the iPad’s clock application. Swiss Rail Station clock? Smacks of Jonny’s influence. Also, beyond the analog clock face, there isn’t a drop of skeuomorphism anywhere in the application. You click on Stopwatch and expect to be greeted with a beautifully rendered version of a real stop-watch, but instead you are greeted with a modern, easy and functional stopwatch interface that looks nothing at all like a physical stopwatch.

      1. Making the clock application appear like the Swiss Rail Station is an example of skeuomorphism, but done right. It looks like a physical clock, and there are purely decorative elements that serve no function (such as realistic shadows under the clock hands). It’s good because none of the skeuomorphism implies functionality that doesn’t actually work (like fake book pages), and none of the skeuomorphism obstructs or distracts from real functionality. It’s subtle skeuomorphism – the kind that might pass unnoticed but nonetheless lead to a nicer experience. This is the type of skeuomorphism that future Apple apps should embrace.

    4. designing the interface (language of whatever sort) to software is not a computer science problem. it is a linguistics or semiotics issue. you won’t get it right if you treat it as just writing code.

    5. Designing user interfaces for software, which often changes depending on context, is very different than designing physical objects that never really change. Jony Ive is obviously one of the best and most inspirational designers of our time, so I really hope he flourishes in this new medium.

      1. I agree with Jony Ives design philosophy and his passion and understanding of Apple… but oh brother… Ives has not yet unified the hardware family of products in to one unique look and style – it was almost there until last month – now it is totally messed up.

        People are giving this man far too much credit.
        He speaks very eloquently and fusses over words of design.
        He talks his talk as a good designer should…
        but Americans are so easily sold on words from a Brit.

      2. For Apples sake lets hope…

        but again, the hardware Apple sells still does not fit over all as a unified product line. Ives is the industrial lead designer here… the products are scattered and messy.

        UI and HI will be a major challenge for Ives;
        Cook has messed up greatly with this choice as with Scotts departure.

  3. Am I the only one who hopes that colour is brought back to the icons in the sidebars of the applications and finder?

    It’s true, all grey is minimalist – and my world (when I look out the window) is not monochromatic. Having colour helps me to actually do better in my work because I recognise icons much more quickly.


  4. I hope so. I’d really like to buy a couple of new computers for the family, and I’ll gladly wait to see what JI comes up with to offset the utter disappointment found in both Lion and Mountain Lion.

    1. As iTunes is the capstone of the whole thing, it’s certain Jony raised a finger and had a word with the lads about it, the moment he obtained leave to do so without friction.

  5. “…incredible design aesthetic…”

    I’ve read those words quoted in a dozen articles over the last couple of days. The aesthetic is important, but it misses the point. Ive’s designs are as functional as they are beautiful. He’s not a window dresser.

    1. You are correct of course. Steve J always insisted design is far, far more than skin deep. It isn’t how something looks, or how it works, but that looks and works do both together well.

      Ive is not a window dresser, but look at what the general populace of windroid devices get, the polar opposite. Devices and software that not only look like crap, but work like crap too. (no offense to actual crap) Its no wonder they cannot get past the incredible aesthetic of Mac OS and iOS devices.

  6. It’s nice to read an article that pulls together the historical threads of this great company and personalizes them as well. The people and conceptual environment is truly’s Apple gem. I do hope it continues to be sustained for many years to come.

  7. I used to work with Apple-bashers who compared the OS and later the hardware to toys. The idiots felt that being pretty didn’t necessarily mean superior functionality. I am thrilled that the designer has more power than the geek or the salesman- I have faith that Apple will get the balance right.

    Jony is truly the soul of Apple. Get out of his way.

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