iPhone interface creator Greg Christie out after a falling out with Jony Ive, sources say

“Following friction between top Apple Human Interface Vice President Greg Christie and Senior Vice President Jony Ive, Apple’s hardware and software design is being dramatically shaken up, according to sources familiar with the matter,” Mark Gurman reports for 9to5Mac.

“After adding human interface design direction to his responsibilities in 2012, Ive will soon completely subsume Apple’s software design group, wresting control away from long-time human interface design chief Christie, according to sources briefed on the matter,” Gurman reports. “Previous to this shakeup, all Apple software design has been led by Christie, who has reported to Craig Federighi, and Ive has been attending interface design meetings and providing instruction.”

“The design shakeup at Apple will result in Christie soon leaving the company, with all software designers now working directly under Ive with the rest of his industrial design team instead of within Federighi’s engineering group,” Gurman reports. “Sources say that Christie’s upcoming departure is significant and stems from a falling out with Ive… Christie also has hundreds of Apple patents in his name such as the iconic ‘Slide to Unlock’ patent… Christie has been a part of Apple and the technology industry long enough to have worked on the first Newton and the transition of Mac OS to OS X and its Aqua interface in the early 2000s.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: When it comes to Apple design, Jony owns it all now. This should help Apple deliver even better, even more copacetic, unified products.

95 Comments

    1. Well the article said that Ive went above Christies head to execute iOS 7 design so it lend itself to reason that iOS 7 and the mess thereof is Ive’s fault.

        1. Or maybe you can read the actual article and not just the MDN blurb…

          “When Ive tasked Apple’s Human Interface team with redesigning iOS 7 to include an entirely new look, Christie and Ive reportedly clashed over design direction, after which Ive is said to have circumvented Christie’s leadership of the team during the new operating system’s development.”

          The troll is the one who DIDN’T read… not the other way around.

          1. It seems that although iOS 7 has some nice new features, everyone I know liked the “look” of iOS 6 better. I certainly do. I think Ive may be great at hardware design, but software design is really a different thing and it should be left to the experts. I think this is a bad road for Apple to put Ive in charge of software. His focus should be on what he does best. What experience has he had over the past 10 years to say that he should be in charge of software design? We’ll see how this turns out, but I am not liking the changes that I see in my latest update. I never said that before.

            1. Everyone I know in a large corporation, plus my friends and family, also liked iOS 6 over 7. No brainer.

              Visiting a T-Mobile store last week for the first time checked out an e-mail coupon advertising huge savings on Samsung phones.

              Breaking news for Apple: I’m told 95% of iPhone users visiting the store complained about the look of iOS 7. Do you hear me now?

              The manager of the store also said most customers walked out with a large screen smartphone not made by Apple. All store employees were sporting Samsung phones.

              So I asked employees, why not iPhone? The answers were the latest Android OS had many more cutting edge features, they liked the larger screen, visuals and the lower price. The two iPhone choices of high end or plastic small screens were disappointing to them.

              Ive gave us a lifeless, cold and sterile iOS. Fonts hard to read and the light roads in Maps is simply useless. No small streams either unlike Google Maps with tiny creeks in bright blue. The veins of the earth, missing in Maps.

              No one can argue 7 is not a radical design change with esoteric icons or that it inspires warm and fuzzy feelings. I love my 4S with 6 and can read and understand everything on my phone.

              So. Now that Scott and Greg are out of favor, out of the way really — the consolidation of power solidifies one unchallenged stark visual view. The last vestiges of Steve’s superior graphic design vision is in peril …

              OSX is next. 🙁

            2. Oh come now….The employees are all carrying Shamescum phones because T-Mobile gets a kickback. Same goes for them pushing Samescam phones on an ignorant public. “This is just as good as the iPhone”…..it worked for Windows P.O.S. machines for years. If you believe everything you hear in a phone store, I have some oceanfront land in Las Vegas I’ll sell you.

            3. Interesting take. You might be right, I don’t know for certain. Simply reported what I was told. But I do know over a hundred 7 users that don’t like it. And that’s the fact, Jack!

            4. tiny creeks in bright blue…veins of the earth, missing in Maps

              Nice bit of poetry that.

              Another thing: the number of street names displayed is reduced to a point of creeping disorientation — the very opposite of a map’s purpose.

            1. Here’s what Gruber says:

              “I’ve been asking around since the news broke this afternoon. What I’ve heard, from several sources: Christie and Ive may not see eye to eye on UI design style, but his departure isn’t nearly as contentious as Mark Gurman’s report at 9to5Mac implies. The basic gist I’ve heard is that Christie is a guy who’s been in a high-pressure, high-profile job for 18 years, most of it reporting to Steve Jobs. He’s made a lot of money and is ready to enjoy it. That’s largely in line with the Apple PR line given to the WSJ, but I heard all of this from ground-level Cupertino-area pixel-pushing designers.

              Interestingly, Christie’s retirement was announced internally a few weeks ago — yet it didn’t leak outside the company until today. Also interesting (and backing up the company line that his departure is not contentious): he’s staying at the company until later this year — and from what I’ve heard, it’s more like “end of the year”. If it’s ugly, why hang around?

              There’s no way to spin the fact that Ive is taking more authority (or perhaps better said, consolidating all aspects of “design” under his direct authority), and surely that played some part in Christie’s decision. But from what I’ve gathered, it is wrong to think that Ive in any way forced Christie out.”

        1. You think iOS 7 looks dated? I don’t know if you’ve gone back to look at iOS 6 after a few months away from it, but I have. It looks awful in comparison. iOS 7 is a breath of fresh air. The animations and transparency are what bring it to life.

          1. Hey I’ve not been iOS 7’s greatest fans from a graphical point of view but let’s have done sanity for overall it works better than the 2 previous versions which were stagnant and over detailed in design. Don’t like the look but a new look was a necessity as 3 dimensional stitching was becoming more important than actual usability. Hopefully now that a change and the break has been made it can be honed and developed in a more pleasing and consistent way while real innovation can be introduced in its capabilities.

        2. I like iOS 7. The latest iterations seem to have addressed many of the issues with it. The font issue is basically fixed. I like the clean uncluttered look of it. I was a bit taken aback after the switch, but after using it for several months, I’ve grown to like it a lot. Unlike some mobile OS’s, it doesn’t get in the way. I can fly through tasks and apps quickly and efficiently. Are there features that can be improved and enhanced? Of course, that’s what updates are for.

          To those still on the “I hate iOS 7!” soapbox, I say, get over it, and get a life. It isn’t that bad, I think it’s pretty damn good. Creating a touch interface is an incredibly complex task. To expect absolute perfection from day one is very presumptuous. Apple has been making steady improvements to it, and I like what I’ve seen and the direction they’re going.

          1. Rubbish, iOS6 virtually bricked my iPad despite it being 3 months old when I updated to it. It introduced no noticeable improvements to my eye looked visually as over designed as before ( as much as I loved the look years before) and was looking predictable, safe and very stale. Don’t love the iOS7 look but would never go back to previous incarnations as it is faster, smoother and offers more functionality so I can forgive the garishness. The icons are my one complaint but needed simplifying but not in the way they have been. Let’s hope that is remedied but I have got used to even that to be honest.

            1. Something is wrong with your device.

              After having iOS 7 on my iOS devices since its inception, I can safely say that iOS 6 used to crash (not often, every once in a while), but iOS 7 never even once crashed since I updated my devices. It is faster, more stable, visually more appealing (when picking up my brother’s 4S with iOS 6, it looks positively archaic, unintuitive, archane and slow!), I am just truly tired from this extremely loud, vocal minority that resists change with full force.

              On behalf of 120 million iOS users who are happy with iOS 7 (an educated guess, pulled out of thin air), I want to declare that iOS 7 is superior, more elegant, more efficient, more stable and more reliable than iOS 6 (and prior versions).

              When people are happy, they don’t feel compelled to share the feeling with others. Those who are unhappy about something feel the need to tell everyone as often and as loudly as they can. This skews the real picture significantly.

              Majority of people love iOS 7. I’m sure Ive knows that and isn’t losing much sleep over those complaints.

            2. What’s an unforced restart? I have iOS 7, the latest iteration, on my iPhone 4, 5, and iPad 3, and I have no recollection of any of them doing that. Occasionally locking up and needing a restart to clear memory, but certainly never, ever restarting on their own.
              And all three devices were bought brand new at release.
              I’ll get back to you regarding Mavericks, it’s only just been installed on my mid-2010 Mac Mini.

      1. Being able to use something at all, and having good usability are 2 different things… White on white with thin fonts and bright colors just doesn’t look good. Maybe it does to some, but many just aren’t happy about it. Your quip and sarcasm doesn’t change the bevy of documented user criticism and displeasure over the new design.

        Sure you can’t please everyone, but when complaints are pouring in and article after article are written which talk about said complaints then something is at least a little wrong… You’d have to be dense on purpose or truly oblivious to anything that isn’t your own opinion to not see that… Fact remains if the new design direction lead by Ive was a hit, then they wouldn’t be slowly backing out of decisions which led to stark usability issues by adding more and more options into accessibility to undo at least some of the poor choices. Usability goes beyond not liking the design…

        People criticized iOS 6 for being too skeuomorphic however they didn’t complain about things just visually looking off, obscured, blindingly bright, blindingly white, or touch zone ambiguous, or missing key vital visual cues or actual features of the previous OS.

        iOS 7 as it stands now, looks more like a toy or one of those tablets made for children that you can buy from Toys R Us than it does a full fledged corporate ready sleek productivity machine. The hardware design is sleek for sure but the OS just doesn’t match the sleek look for hardware which is probably why they definitely had to launch the 5C so at least on some phones it wouldn’t look out of place.

        1. If iOS7 looks toyish I think Windows Phones and tablets look straight out of Fisher-Price. Android just a wall with lots of sh*t thrown on it. I think in recent updates some of the iOS 7 design elements have been altered due to criticism. I don’t have a problem with it and it certainly isn’t life or death but just a bunch of spoiled brats (see Louis CK’s take on technology) making too much of it (you can please some of the people some of the time but you can never please all of the people all of the time). No matter whatr anybody does someone won’t like it.

          Like anything the interface is in flux and improvements will no doubt be made in iOS 8, hopefully to more universal liking but I suspect 99% of most folks like iOS 7 fine.

          1. The difference with Android is, if your opinion is it looks like a piece of ****, you can change it, if it is not functional for you you can correct it, you can even make it look like IOS if you want too. This is one of the downsides of IOS, if you do not like what you are given you are stuck with it and everyone has their own view on design and how they want to use their phones, so you will never please everyone.

            1. If you don’t like iOS then yes by all means buy an Android or Windows Phone. All sizes don’t have to fit all except for the ADD or ADHD cases out there never satisfied with anything. For me there are no downsides to iOS over Android. It’s quite the other way around.

  1. This is bad. Ive believes function should follow form. Apple software will further devolve into flashy uselessness. Honestly, my Nokia E71 had better calendar functionality.

      1. Maybe too many cooks in the kitchen. In any case, hope this means something more consistent, practical, and beneficial function.. And not jus a matter of looks…

    1. Calendar is probably the app with the most problems and complaints. Right? It is also the app they changed the most, right? I mean it seems so to me, anyway. (No, I didn’t conduct a poll.) I find this troubling. Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the changes to iWork apps. Big changes, most complaints and very real problems. Troubling trend.

  2. Personally, I agree with MDN.

    However, there will be some readers who will predict disaster.

    They seem to forget that personal taste is just personal. There are few universal truths in fashion.

    The color pink wasn’t associated much with females until the mid-1940’s There are earlier references to pink being the preferred color for boys because it’s a “stronger” color, and blue for girls, because it’s “softer.”

    Blame the advertising industry for the preferences you have now that you think are somehow innate.

    1. Blame advertising companies for my preference to actually see the information on my screen without squinting? Not liking bright white on white with thin fonts and bright colors isn’t just a preference it presents a hurdle of usability in many different scenarios especially ones involving using your phone early in the morning when just waking up or in the day light… It made these scenarios (among many others) that much more unusable.

      1. Thin fonts on white (as long as they are not ultra thin) can actually be more visible as the eye recognises edges not flat areas of colour. My eyes are far from good yet have no problem with readability of the used fonts. In fact it is generally bold fonts that are more difficult and uncomfortable to read which is why they are used sparingly to have immediate impact without allowing the eyes and brain to gradually turn off from them while reading. One needs a little balance.

    2. The weird thing with pink now is that if you are a man who wears it a large section of people think it’s worthy of kudos, like you’re making a statement or something. I just wear the colours I think I look good wearing, but it does depend on the item of clothing itself. A pink shirt works, a pink T-shirt not so much, and pink trousers Oh God No!!

  3. Whatever it was about, it was SER-I-OUS. But, come on, Greg. You want to go against Jony about something on that level? I don’t think Apple’s going to pick you over him.

  4. First Scott Forstall and now Christie. Tim Cook doesn’t have the fortitude to keep the gang together like Steve did. Combine this with news of iTunes music sales falling off a cliff and Apple is looking more rudderless with every day that goes by.

  5. One critical problem here: Jony Ive is not a software coder.

    Ideally, this breaks Apple free to get off the 2D GUI and get into the 3D GUI. But I don’t think so. Ive designs in 3D, but he hasn’t done anything at all with 3D GUIs. The parallax effect iPhone 5S with iOS 7 is not 3D. It’s just 2D trickery.

    But I’m always blethering on about 3D. I’m impatient.

    1. Ive doesn’t need to be a coder. You think Christie is clacking away on a terminal writing code for swiping left? Come on. They’re both executives who manage the big picture.

      1. The ideal is to have a boss who knows how to do what you do. In this case, that means knowing how to code.

        Meanwhile: Ive has never been discussed as a great manager. I can’t remember a single discussion about his managerial skills. He’s a designer. His world is visual.

        I’ve had to consider this situation myself, being someone who sucks at coding, but is great at system analysis and design. I decided it simply wasn’t fair or wise for me to become a software project manager.

        Some coders think its great to have a manager who doesn’t second guess their coding. But to be realistic, the manager should know exactly what their staff is doing down to fine detail.

        1. Derek,
          From the perspective of someone who enjoys and agrees with many of your posts, I am puzzled by and disagree with this one.

          At the level of micro-business, or small teams of independents, somebody is going to be managing several people with different skills. And above the level of the team of programmers, there has to be someone who is the boss of those programmers, plus a maybe bunch of designers, plus a bunch of hardware prototypers, a couple engineers, and a bunch of support admin people.

          For example, imagine the vastly disparate people Steve managed.

          So if it’s “ideal” at all, having a boss who can do what you do can only be ideal at a very particular level of the organization.

          I know one quite high level project manager. He started off in coding, but now manages many who can code at a much higher level than he can. But he’s a very good, successful and in-demand manager.

          1. I am headed into personal ignorance territory if I go any further into this situation. I studied project management at a school, which means I never was ‘in situ’. I never was there. Circumstances forced me to move on. So I defer to your experience. I wish we could have a long talk about it as it still interests me.

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