Apple’s Jony Ive seen risking iOS 7 delay on sweeping software overhaul; Mac team enlisted to help

“Jonathan Ive, six months into an expanded role as Apple Inc.’s top product visionary, has embarked on a sweeping software overhaul that leaves the company at risk of falling behind on a new version of the operating system that runs iPhones and iPads, people with knowledge of the matter said,” Adam Satariano reports for Bloomberg News. “Already in charge of product design, Ive assumed oversight of the look and feel of software running all Apple electronics in a shakeup by Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook last year that included the departure of software chief Scott Forstall.”

“Ive, 46, has begun revamping iPhone and iPad applications, shunning realistic images, such as wood bookshelves for the Newsstand feature, and he’s exploring more dramatic changes to the e-mail and calendar tools, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private,” Satariano reports. “Ive is also methodically reviewing new designs, seeking to avoid a repeat of last year’s release of map tools that were widely panned, and he’s encouraging collaboration between the software and hardware divisions, which operated in silos under co-founder Steve Jobs, people said.”

Satariano reports, “Engineers are racing to finish iOS 7, the next version of the mobile software, in time for a June preview at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference.
While the company still expects to release iOS 7 on time as soon as September, internal deadlines for submitting features for testing are being set later than past releases, people said. Staff from Apple’s Mac team have also been roped in to help the mobile-software group finish the job, people said. Apple has made similar moves in the past, including with the first version of iOS in 2007.”

“Ive is moving the company away from layered and literal — or skeuomorphic — design elements, toward ones that are intended to give the software a flatter design that’s more unified and less cluttered, according to people familiar with the changes. Bigger shifts, to such features as e-mail, may not even be ready this year and may be introduced in future releases, people said,” Satariano reports. “Longer term, Ive also has shown interest in altering how people control their computers. He has met with makers of gesture technology that lets people navigate their gadgets by moving their hands — without touching the screen, said a personal familiar with those interactions.”

Much more in the full article – recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Just get it right.

(And, with Ive on the case, we have no doubt that they will get it very right, indeed.)

Related articles:
Jony Ive preps ‘very, very flat,’ potentially unsettling UI for Apple’s new iOS 7 – April 29, 2013
Usage logs begin reporting hits from new Apple iPhone hardware and iOS 7 – April 15, 2013
Jony Ive to usher in big changes in iOS 7 with system-wide UI overhaul – April 3, 2013

38 Comments

  1. Sir Jony is new to the software development world. Good luck to him. Unfortunately the lessons of “The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering”, written in the 1970s still apply. Software is not magic, but it gets complicated really quickly.

    1. Exactly.

      There is another approach to updating software, which is to add new features with every minor update. Apple used to do this more consistently. In the case of iOS 7 and OS X 10.9, considering the time crush, I’d say that approach would be a great idea.

        1. It must suck being you. No only is the depth and breadth of your vocabulary less than the majority of elementary school children but Apple has also decided to rid its OSs of the visual detritus designed by Forstall.

  2. Complete removal of skeuomorphism means every app becomes a version of Excel (see Windows Phone 7). 🙂

    The first thing I’ve heard to give me concern is “he’s encouraging collaboration between the software and hardware divisions”. In my opinion you DON’T want them collaborating because you’ll end up with something that’s the Lowest Common Denominator between the two instead of the software division creating the requirements that force the hardware division to do something INCREDIBLE to get it done, or vice versa.

    Of course, I’m not running a multi-kajillion dollar company, never have and never will. I just believe one of the strengths of certain people is that they didn’t come up as a “computer” person, they came up as an art/design person that the computer guys had to listen to. 🙂

    1. I take the opposite view. It won’t be the lowest common denominator. It will be greater than the sum of the parts.

      Operating within watertight compartments is not the best way forward for Apple. It’s much better that hardware and software people interact so that they have a better understanding of what each other can offer.

      It’s not a situation where hardware people will be designing software or vice versa, it’s simply that the two disciplines will collaborate so that together they can push the envelope further and they will have a better understanding of the limitations and possibilities beyond their own horizons.

      This is very much Apple’s way of doing things. If you think back to when Apple switched to Intel, it wasn’t long before Apple’s engineers were co-operating with Intel’s chip designers so that future chips could be better integrated. Intel staff made favourable comments about how new and constructive this approach was.

      1. Collaborating with an external vendor isn’t really the same thing, though, as you had Apple’s and Intel’s hardware engineers involved. I’d doubt the software people were included in that and that’s as it should be.

        The silo’ing has led to the creation of some of the most iconic consumer electronics products in history. While “collaboration” sounds good in theory, in action you have two groups of humans that historically have not worked together (within Apple). It was one side versus the other with a referee in between that had an uncanny knack of being able to determine what the consumer will want and driving to that goal no matter how much the hardware or software guys said it can’t be done.

        I believe other companies like Google, Samsung, Microsoft, etc. already have the sort of collaboration you speak of, but that framework just doesn’t seem to be able to drive the kinds of things we see come out of Apple.

    2. The first thing I’ve heard to give me concern is “he’s encouraging collaboration between the software and hardware divisions”. In my opinion you DON’T want them collaborating…

      There is that horrifying ‘built by committee’ effect that is well worth avoiding, like the plague.

      However, there are great benefits of focused interactions to be had. Harping on my usual obsession of 3D GUI elements, knowing exactly what are the limits of hardware acceleration of 3D graphics is essential. Days can be wasted trying to get some software trickery to work when in fact there’s a preferable hardware enabled approach that’s better, or figuring out that ‘you can’t get there from here’ without some future hardware upgrade.

      IOW: It’s useful for the left hand to know what the right hand is doing. Otherwise, you’re blundering around with a lobotomy.

      1. “there are great benefits of focused interactions to be had”

        Yes, but, most often, that occurs AFTER the new thing has been done and you’re doing iterations on prior work. Which is why, for Apple’s followers, that model works. Look at what Apple has done, meet with the hardware and software guys to see how close you can get and have at it.

        The true innovations occur when the hardware guys have to resolve a problem that’s been forced on them by the software requirements or vice versa. A problem that concentional wisdom had always considered impossible. Yet, they do it anyway in spite of themselves because there’s no collaboration, no back and forth, no “redesign the redesign of the last three redesigns” meeting. It’s just a goal to be reached and they hit it (bringing tons of patents created along the way).

        The first iteration may not be perfect, but the vision created by it will drive the follow on ollaboration for years to come.

    3. At last someone who knows what he is taking about. Would people really want an architect doing graphic design, most would be a total disaster or as we have seen of late even a renowned product designer designing a boat apparently, which has far closer connections.
      I hope and expect Ive to do something special but I can’t help but be concerned at the fact nothing is at all certain in such matters when a designer of one skill base attempts to conquer another or if one designs for designers rather than people for that matter. For example making an iMac so slim you can’t replace the ram is hardly putting the user first is it.

      1. The article is indeed predominantly about iOS but is NOT exclusively about iOS. Both renditions of the operating system are being updated simultaneously and a lot of what’s discussed applies to both. The gradual integration of features between both OSes makes this even more pertinent.

        1. Exactly it is only a matter of time before the two are practically indistinguishable, going from Leopold to Mountain Lion has shown that trail already, where perhaps those on a more gradual course might not notice.

    1. OMG yes. At least offer some other options. I understood Job’s obsession with getting rid of the kiddy toy appearances possible in Mac OS 8 and 9. The ‘it’s a toy’ OS blethering certainly went away. But locking the appearance into that of a boring business suit appeals to no one but the boring.

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