Less than ten months have passed since the renowned Jony Ive stepped down as Apple’s Chief Design Officer to start a new company – LoveFrom – that will reportedly work with both Apple and other clients.
Already, there are several signs that Apple is rethinking its design philosophy some following Ive’s departure. But based on what has happened so far, that might be far from entirely a bad thing.
First, last September, Apple rolled out new flagship iPhones that (although looking much like their predecessors in many respects) were moderately thicker and heavier than its 2018 flagships, on account of packing larger batteries… not exactly a massive difference, but after pushing year after year in the Ive era to make new iPhones as thin and light as was reasonably possible, it did represent a change of pace — a calculated decision to prioritize function (i.e., battery life) over form. And this calculated decision brought with it a major benefit: The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max deliver much better battery life than their predecessors, with Apple claiming 4-hour and 5-hour increases, respectively, under normal use.
MacBook keyboards are another area where Apple has recently been breaking with an Ive-era focus on thinness. Last November, Apple launched a 16-inch MacBook Pro that abandoned the ultra-thin and occasionally-criticized “butterfly” keyboard design that MacBooks had been shipping with since 2015 in favor of a more conventional “scissor switch” design (Apple calls its proprietary scissor switch keyboards Magic Keyboards). And last month, Apple launched a revamped MacBook Air featuring a Magic Keyboard. Reviewers have almost unanimously given a thumbs-up to the new keyboards.
MacDailyNews Take: Don’t get the wrong idea from the headline. The gorgeous form (much of it inspired by Jony Ive himself, of course) is still very much there, the products are just a bit more functional now that the ill-conceived obsession with thin has been corrected. Don’t forget that the recent iPad Pros and the upcoming iPhones are said to be based on the incomparable iPhone 4 design, for which Jony Ive was responsible.
Annnd, as always, we told ya so:
• The law of diminishing returns can also be applied to industrial design. Apple’s eternal quest for thinness eventually runs into issues such as bulging camera assemblies, battery capacity, strength (breakability), etc. – is Apple’s quest for thinness now bordering on the quixotic? So, is it “you can never be too thin” or is it “thin enough is thin enough?” — MacDailyNews, December 21, 2015
• Hey, Jony: Enough with the thin. Everything is thin enough. Sometimes too thin. Thinner isn’t the answer to everything, nor is thinness intrinsic to good design. We’d gladly take a bit more robustness and battery life over more unnecessary thinness, thanks. – MacDailyNews, June 25, 2018
• We’ve had to endure years of inferior keyboards in order to shave off half a millimeter about which no one not named Jony gave a rat’s ass. — MacDailyNews, April 2, 2019
• Those who panic over the exit of Jony Ive need not do so. Again, given Jony’s state of mind and his autonomous position with Apple, his departure is a net positive for the company. — MacDailyNews, July 7, 2019
• Obviously, Jony Ive helped turn Apple into what it is today. Yes, by the end of his time at Apple, he got a little weird and seemed more than a little bored/distracted, but his myriad contributions to Apple over many years cannot be overstated! – MacDailyNews, November 21, 2019