Apple’s Jony Ive: Bad design is ‘personally offensive’

“Speaking at London’s Design Museum this week, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Design provided a rare insight into the company’s next big thing without making any assumptions of its notoriety: ‘We’ve been working on this product called Apple Watch,’ he said of the smartwatch that made front page headlines around the world,” Matt Warman reports for The Telegraph. “”

“Although Sir Jony didn’t offer details of precise new features, the explanation of how Apple arrived at the Watch has never been detailed in public before, and he explained it as a significant but logical leap in the history of computers,” Warman reports. “‘It’s been one of the most intriguing programmes,’ he said. ‘This sort of transition of [computer] technology that became a little bit more personal, made its way in to the home and made its way in to your pocket – this leap to the worn is a really significant one.'”

Warman reports, “Sir Jony is at his most strident on the issue of the simple value of good design in any context. ‘I really truly believe that people can sense care in the same way they can sense carelessness. I think this is about the respect we have for each other. If you give me something and you expect me to buy something and all I can sense is carelessness, that’s personally offensive. I think it’s offensive culturally because it shows just the disregard for our fellow human and so I think it’s very important that at least our intent is that we have really really, really cared. I don’t know anything ever that’s good that’s come from carelessness. In the physical world so much of it’s that manufactured testifies to carelessness – the one good thing about it is that if you do care about it it’s conspicuous.'”

Much more in the full article here.

48 Comments

  1. You mean like the God awful frayed device cables that Apple puts out?

    Why don’t they really address this problem?

    If the solution would make the cables a bit more bulkier then so be it. It would look and function better than the tattered looking current ones.

    1. If you look up the statistics on frayed cables amassed over the years, Apple’s cables are no more prone to failure than most others.

      Yes, you can buy much more robust cables on the market, and if you’re one of those individuals that constantly tugs on the cord and not the plug itself, then you should get one of those. For the rest of us who treat our cables with just a tiny bit of respect we have no problems (and my family has had Apple many, many mobile device over the years with zero cable failures).

      1. I keep a cable attached to my desktop PC at work. It was only used to charge my iPhone. The strain on the cable was minimal and I take care of my stuff.

        Yet still the plastic cable sheath gradually pulled out of the ferrule of the Lightning connector. This has happened several times.

        Apple was great and replaced the cable but for a company that typically noodles every little detail on the micron level it’s surprising that they never decisively fixed this.

      2. BS, don’t speak for everyone. My laptop is plugged in and sitting on the desk 90 to 95% of the time. The cable is still showing signs of damage. I treat mine with this much respect as you do. You’re a typical Apple does nothing wrong person. On the repro Apple but they make mistakes too and many.

    2. Like the iOS lock screen photo bug which prevents you from seeing the entire photo on the lock screen… Or the terrible iTunes APP interface which must have been written by a microsoft engineer. It is awful to try and rearrange your apps prior to sync using iTunes… Or maybe the new feature where you can’t click your phone in the column on the left to get into the sync options but you have to click the icon on the top bar? Programming is going down hill, maybe slowly to you fan boys but it’s noticeable. Go read Tim cooks bio on the apple site. He worked for IBM and doesn’t recognize these bad programming issues or he’d fix them.

  2. ‘I have a blast because I get to work with these super-talented people. Take Jony Ive, If I had a spiritual partner at Apple, it’s Jony. The difference that Jony has made, not only at Apple but in the world, is huge. He is a wickedly intelligent person in all ways. He understands business concepts, marketing concepts. He picks up just like that, click. He understands what we do at our core better than anyone. He gets the big picture as well as the most infinitesimal details about each product. And he understands that Apple is a product company. He’s not just a designer. That’s why he works directly for me. There’s no one who can tell him what to do, or to butt out. That’s the way I set it up.’

    ‘Steve Jobs Bio: The Unauthorized Autobiography.’

    1. I wish someone would tell him to butt out of software design. His hardware designs are usually pretty good but I would call his software design aesthetic Dead flat retro. I like Yosemite’s new features but the aesthetics are so bad at times that they’re distracting.

      In the past an OS X screen was pleasantly innocuous. You could do work without certain aspects of the interface attracting attention away from the job at hand, now it’s difficult to concentrate on work because certain bits of the interface draw your attention away.

      For instance looking at Safari’s toolbar, all monochromatic dead flat, has all the charm of reading a post written all caps. Ive is really not good at interface design and somebody should tell him.

  3. Hard work is not about being careful.
    Just because you or your team works very hard, for a long time, does not equate to being careful. I really hear Jony in this article, but he should either instill this more in his subordinates, or practice what he preaches himself. If he really, really, really cared, there would not be so many glaring glitches that have only come about because he decided that the old was not great, and he had to change it.

    1. I once read an insightful story about the legendary industrial designer, Dieter Rams. One of his designs was for a kitchen appliance, a blender. It embodied great design, except for what appears to be superfluous lines running up the plastic container part. When challenged about the aesthetics behind this apparently poor design choice, Dieter Rams replied calmly: “Oh, that let us reduce production costs by 50% !” His design allowed manufacture with a much less expensive grade of plastic without reducing product strength. To me, it is a great example of the comprehensive (and practical) nature of Industrial Design.

      1. I recall the coffee maker to which you are referring. The stupid ribbed plastic is very hard to keep clean. Stupid penny-pinching design.

        With the piles of resources Apple has, there is no excuse for cheap design or buggy software. It comes down to listening to customers — Rams didn’t do it, and Ive doesn’t either. Both have limited skill in the design department.

  4. Then why did he OK putting the SDXC card slot ON THE BACK of the new 5k iMac?

    It is the dumbest place to put it! It is inconvenient to use. You have to either reach around/under your new iMac to use it, turn your iMac around to use it, or walk around your desk to the iMac’s back to use it. You have no way of visually seeing if the card is fully inserted or not.

    There are a lot of great things about the new 5K iMac. However, this one decision was just plain stupid.

    1. NOT AT ALL.

      All you have to do is feel with your fingers and slip the care in. It is quite easy in fact.

      Do you blame God for not putting your “bum hole” on your chest? It would have been convenient, but not very thoughtful. God put it way away from your face and the only way you clean it is by …….. Well same way as you would insert the card into the iMac.

        1. Paul seems not to be playing with a full deck today. He seems to think that Apple can do no wrong, but ever since Ive started messing with the GUIs and taking away Mac user configuration options, the legitimate criticisms have only increased. Apple’s not on the right path here — send Ive back to hardware design where he belongs.

        2. Hammy, yeah. Can you put it any better? BTW not sure if HE even exists. I am just saying. Not sure if HE is a SHE either; what, with all the upper management being full of HE’s that couldn’t possibly be the case.

      1. Paul, look at Apple’s Mac lineup. If you want a desktop Mac, you only have 3 choices.

        You can stop apologizing for Apple’s recent user-unfriendly Mac design now. We get it that you think everything Ive does is perfect. It isn’t to those of us who have enjoyed much more user-friendly Macs for 25+ years.

  5. “If you give me something and you expect me to buy something and all I can sense is carelessness, that’s personally offensive.”

    Good, then restore the end user’s ability to install memory in the Mac mini and smaller iMacs.

  6. I wonder what Jony says about the design of the 2011 MacBook Pro? Because of inherent design defects, at least tens of thousands and possibly hundreds of thousands of 2011 MacBook Pros are now bricks, or have had their logic boards replaced multiple times at owner expense.

    It certainly is offensive to me that Apple has not issued a recall for poorly designed laptops that cost upwards of $2,500. What are you going to do about that careless design Jony?

    1. He’s not an engineer. Not his department. But I’d think Apple as a whole would be up in arms about the semi-fiasco. As I’ve noted here before, that specific model turned a friend of mine off Macs and Apple. *sigh*

        1. I’d told his tale here previously. He went to Linux. And no, the hardware is catch as catch can, good luck, hold your nose, etc. He specifically became an Ubuntu fanatic. I’ve enjoyed bashing (not a pun) around in Linux in the past. But these days I have work to do that doesn’t involve Linux.

  7. I agree with Jony 100% regarding INDUSTRIAL design. I disagree with Jony 100% regarding GRAPHIC design. Just look at the ugliest navigation design for devices and macs ever to come out of Apple.

    1. I totally disagree regarding the graphic design solutions. After using iOS 7 for a few months, I had found iOS 6 positively archane, ugly, unfriendly and obsolete. Same for Mac OS; a friend has Lion, which looks and feels utterly ancient compared to the Yosemite.

      1. What does that mean, “feels utterly ancient”? How many clicks does it take to find a function or file? Can you always read all the text clearly? Can you intuitively understand all controls and know exactly where they are? Can you set your own colors and fonts? Do the icons have crisp meaning or do you confuse them because they all look similar?

        iOS6 was certainly not the most refined system, but iOS7 takes a huge step back in useability. Look at all the half-ass fixes to legibility that Apple had to add to iOS 7.1. Face it, most people are not enamored with extreme minimalism.

        1. I may have exaggerated with hyperbole, because I’m really tired of reading all the hyperbole about the iOS 7. To me, the old iOS is just too busy on the eyes, compared to the clean look and feel of the new version, I just get tired from the visual clutter and superfluous elements of the interface. Buttons of the old UI had these faux 3d shapes, with light reflections, shading, beveling, embossing… All unnecessary elements when a solid colour rectangle with sharp edges conveys the same message in much less conspicuous and distracting way.

          All I’m saying is, there is an ocean of users like me who are quietly and happily using the new system and are thrilled not to have to go back to the old one. I’m really tired of reading the vocal minority’s cries for the good old times.

          1. Jony Ive seems to be trying to get back to the good old times. Take a good look at the Safari or Mail toolbars: two-dimensional and monochromatic. These look like hires versions of the icons you would’ve found on the original monochrome Mac. They were cool 30 years ago but now they’re an eyesore.

  8. Ive knows a thing or two about offensive GUI, that’s for sure. Each new OS from Apple since 2009 has gotten more ugly and harder to read, while being less intuitive with more hidden and hard-to-use elements. And the bugs seem to be multiplying.

    Hardware design, also, should not trump user configurability. Forcing users to overpay for RAM and locking them out from upgrading hard drives or graphics cards is simply the most user-unfriendly policy in the business. It doesn’t have to be this way. Apple used to be VERY user friendly in its GUI and its hardware design. Not so much since Ive took over.

    1. Excellent takes. Since Jony took over graphic design what we are seeing is elitist egalitarianism. We know better than you and if you don’t like it, take a hike. Bunch of modern art SNOBS!

  9. Based on the Yosemite poll, it would seem users either love Ive’s software aesthetic or they hate it. Add me to the latter group. The gray flat ugliness has gone way too far.

  10. Apple completely ignored the complaints about iOS 7 and let Ive uglify OS X anyway. For some reason Cook is letting him get away with it when instead he should be listening to customer complaints. Ive has to much power at Apple and needs to be confined to hardware design.

    1. Tim is in the same San Fran jet set crowd renting a suite overlooking Central Park after an exhaustive afternoon with Jony drooling over Modrian paintings at the Museum of Modern Art. It is what it is …

  11. I think some people here are confusing carelessness with mistakes. Not all mistakes are due to carelessness. Some are due to stubbornness or just plain wrong-headedness or just plain old mistakes. We all have gripes about Apple products, but I’m not sure many of those gripes could be chalked up to carelessness on Apple’s part.

    1. And also personal taste.

      Please, please, please, complainers. Pleeeease forgive Apple for not:
      – satisfying EVERYONE’S personal taste
      – and for NOT being able to get their suppliers to build every one of one hundred million units with zero defects.

      1. Forgive Apple for sh*t canning the brilliant graphic design vision of Steve Jobs so Jony can play around with flat, dull, lifeless, confusing icons NOW AFFECTING Yosemite? Never surrender.

  12. There’s just one glaring poorly designed product on Ive’s arsenal: the USB plug of Apple cables: it is slippery and due to the shortness of the plug, difficult to pull out. Other manufacturers use longer plugs and non-slip material. I wish Apple would actually do something about this poorly designed component.

  13. I liked the iphone 4s design and 5/5s looks good but did not buy one. Not a fan of the 6 series with its plastic band stuck on its behind. Apple should come up with an iphone mini of 4s or the 5 design series it would be good for people like me who like a smaller handset.

  14. The general reactions toward Ive’s software design seem to be that people either love it or hate it (I hate it). The people who hate it used to love it before be started “updating” things. The people who love it claim iOS 6 now looks archaic and needed a fresh look but you never heard anyone claiming it looked old until after the fact. The only real beef people had was about green felt and faux leather. Big deal.

    What you didn’t have pre-Ive was such polarization. This does not bode well for Apple. I’ve been a lifelong Apple fan, going all the way back to the Apple IIs and original Macs. I find the design of iOS and now Yosemite so dreadful, so poorly thought out, so user unfriendly, unintuitive, garishly ugly, so unlike everything that used to make Apple products such a pleasure to use, that I’m probably not going to buy another Apple product again. No iphone 6, no new iPad, and no new MacBook Pro or desktop. Ive has alienated me and I suspect thousands of other longtime customers. I’m done.

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