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The Wall Street Journal has published new reporting on the backstory of Jony Ive’s gradual departure from the Apple. The report says Ive pushed for the company to make the Apple Watch, despite disagreement from other executives, and dived into watch development meetings with the design team almost every day before it launched.

However, after the watch shipped, the report describes how Jony Ive began to drift away from Apple, stalling processes and sometimes not turning up to meetings, frustrating the teams who had worked hard to get materials ready for approval.

The Journal’s timeline largely mirrors the sentiment of what Bloomberg reported the day after the news broke that Apple’s famed designer would be leaving the company to form his own independent design firm with Apple as a client.

The latest report says the intent of Jony Ive’s promotion to Chief Design Officer in 2024 was to leave him with less day-to-day management responsibilities. However, the design team “craved” his input while the new leadership in the form of Alan Dye and Richard Howarth did not commandeer the same respect.

Members of the human interface and industrial design teams viewed approval from their new leaders as merely tentative. “They still wanted Jony’s thumbs-up to go forward,” this person said.

After the watch shipped, the Journal report describes Ive’s enthusiasm appearing to wane from the perspective of employees under him, even to the point of not showing up for meetings, or showing up many hours late but still not making conclusive decisions. Ive had apparently promised software design groups that he would hold “design weeks” every month, but was rarely in attendance.

Jony Ive after a recent Apple keynote

One particular anecdote describes frictions of developing the radically-new gestural interface for iPhone X.

For the January 2023 meeting at the Battery, Apple security escorted prototypes up from headquarters in an airtight, Pelican case. The team presented a multitude of features for Mr. Ive’s approval, including how to transition from lock screen to home screen.

Pressure was on to finalize features before for the phone’s autumn unveiling. Team members were disappointed Mr. Ive failed to give them the guidance they needed.

“It was rough development cycle,” said one person at the meetings.

Apple CEO Tim Cook apparently asked Ive to restore his day-to-day responsibilities in 2023, which ultimately resulted in another reorganization of the VP-level and a lot of public press implying that ‘Jony was back’. However, The Wall Street Journal report says it didn’t take long for Ive to become disconnected again, amplified by necessary trips to the UK to visit his sick father.

It seems like most of the design team were unaware of Ive’s departure until the Thursday briefings however.

On Thursday, Mr. Ive convened the user interface and industrial designers in their new, unified workspace at Apple Park. He explained he was leaving and answered questions. The intimate event felt like a family gathering and was a fitting way for the design chief to say goodbye, said one person in attendance.

The sendoff may have been “a fitting way for the design chief to say goodbye” but Ive’s exit leaves big questions about Apple’s design future. In the past, the design group has been firmly rooted at the top of Apple’s leadership pyramid. Now, the two design VPs named to replace Ive will report to COO Jeff Williams, not directly to CEO Tim Cook.

That being said, Ive’s gradual disconnect was starting to sound like a hindrance, with decisions left hanging in the air. In this way, it is probably best that someone else is taking over. Earlier in the article, an employee is quoted as saying:

“Many of us were thinking: How did it come to this?” said a person at the meeting. There was a sense “Jony was gone but reluctant to hand over the reins.”

Many might be pleased the stalemate has at least been definitively broken.

Other details included in the piece include the shortcomings of Jony Ive’s pet project with the $10,000+ Apple Watch Edition, which reportedly largely went unsold with only about 10 million watches total shipped in year one, or a quarter of what Apple expected according to WSJ.

The company sold about 10 million units in the first year, a quarter of what Apple forecast, a person familiar with the matter said. Thousands of the gold version went unsold.

The Journal report even touches on Apple’s failed AirPower charging mat project, which was publicly announced in 2023 and killed in 2023:

The AirPower charging pad was supposed to arrive in 2023. Mr. Ive had imagined the product as a dresser-top catchall for Apple devices, but engineering tests found it behaved more like a dorm-room hot plate, heating up loose change and failing to evenly recharge devices.

Read the full story over at The Wall Street Journal, and read more of our coverage of Jony Ive’s exit below:

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Apple’s Jony Ive Talks Memories Of Steve Jobs At Vanity Fair Summit

As expected, Apple’s Chief Design Officer Jony Ive today took the stage at Vanity Fair’s New Establishment Summit at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Ive shared the stage with famed director, writer, and producer J.J. Abrams. During his time on stage, the Apple executive spent a decent amount of time discussing the life of the late Steve Jobs, who passed away four years ago this week.

Regarding the time when Jobs passed away, Ive remarked that he “was faced with this wall of grief.” Perhaps as a slight jab at recent films that have portrayed Jobs in a negative light, Ive also noted that he remembers the characteristics of the former Apple CEO that were “essentially him,” not the harsher nature with which he is often associated. Ive remarked that he does not remember Jobs the way he “is being frequently and popularly portrayed at the moment.”

Ive also noted of Jobs’s drive to make something perfect. “Steve Jobs never worked with a feeling of entitlement,” he explained. Jobs’s goal in reality was “heartwarmingly simple,” Ive said:

“What’s remained is almost unremarkable, but what’s remained is his very simple focus on trying to make something beautiful and great. And it really was simple. There wasn’t a grand plan of winning, or a very complicated agenda. That simplicity seemed almost childlike in its purity. And it’s true.”

Furthermore, Ive noted of Jobs’s love for the product design portion of development, explaining that during the design phase, Jobs was happier than he had ever been before:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so happy, as I saw him—this very simple kind of joy—when he would realize, “This is actually working out. This could be great.” It was just the simplicity of that.

Aside from talking about Steve Jobs, Ive noted of a couple of other design philosophies he believes in. “The best ideas come from the tentative suggestion,” Ive explained. “We’re capable of discerning far more than we are capable of articulating.”

Regarding his new role as Chief Design Officer, Ive said that it’s something he “should have done this years ago” and that he’s never been “this happy and creative in years and years.”

I was talking to a friend of Steve’s and a friend of mine earlier in the week, on the day that marked the fourth anniversary of his death. What struck me, four years ago, is that I was faced with this wall of grief. A lot of messy—a whole series of multiple feelings. In thinking of him then, there was this incredible complexity of all his attributes. What has been very surprising, is that over the four years that have passed, so much of that noise, and so many of his attributes, they’ve ended up essentially receding. And what’s left is . . . just him.

Quite honestly, what’s remained, I never would have predicted four years ago. What’s remained is almost unremarkable, but what’s remained is his very simple focus on trying to make something beautiful and great. And it really was simple. There wasn’t a grand plan of winning, or a very complicated agenda. That simplicity seemed almost childlike in its purity. And it’s true.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so happy, as I saw him—this very simple kind of joy—when he would realize, “This is actually working out. This could be great.” It was just the simplicity of that.

That stands in such contrast, obviously, to how he’s being frequently and popularly portrayed at the moment. The lack of agenda.

He certainly had a sense of a civic responsibility to make something good, as a way of somehow making a contribution to humanity, and to culture.

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Tim Cook, Jony Ive, Craig Federighi Talk New Iphones, Ios 7, Collaboration In Interview

Just before the new iPhones launch, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Design chief Jony Ive, and Software head Craig Federighi have sat down with Bloomberg Businessweek for a wide-ranging interview. The interview does not reveal any breakthrough new information, but this seems to be the first time that Apple’s leadership has sat down for a joint interview…

(note: get a year of Businessweek for $4.50 at 9to5toys)

The trio, which was in charge of Apple’s major iOS revamp, discuss designing iOS 7, collaboration, the new iPhones, and competition from Google’s Android operating system. First things first, Cook discussed the recent claims that “Apple is doomed:”

None of this rattles Tim Cook. Oh, he’s heard it, of course, but his soft-spoken, deliberate manner in interviews is not cover for how, say, Apple’s share price affects his mood. “I don’t feel euphoric on the up, and I don’t slit my wrists when it goes down,” he says. “I have ridden the roller coaster too many times for that.” When asked about the rise of low-cost manufacturers, he’s equally even-tempered. “It happens in every market I’ve seen,” he says. “It happens in all consumer electronics, from cameras to PCs to tablets to phones to—in the old world—VCRs and DVDs. I can’t think of a single consumer electronics market it doesn’t happen in.”

The Apple CEO also discussed the pricing of the iPhone 5c, saying that Apple never intended to make a low-cost iPhone. The iPhone 5c is simply last year’s iPhone 5 in colors – at $100 off on-contract.

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Ive and Federighi both discussed their (sometimes unhealthy?) love for Apple in context of their collaboration. The duo noted that, while their work together became noticed with iOS 7, their offices are actually close in proximity. The two shared some details on the thinking behind the iPhone 5s Touch ID fingerprint scanner and iOS 7:

What makes that collaboration work is the two men’s shared focus on usability and simplicity. Sit down with top executives from, say, Samsung’s mobile division, and you’ll probably hear a great deal about how much the company listens to the market and can move to address global needs with astonishing alacrity. Ive and Federighi will spend 10 minutes talking about how hard they worked to perfect iOS 7’s blurred-background effect. “I think, very often, you can’t call out by attribute or name areas of value,” says Ive regarding what people look for when using a product. “But I do think that we sense when somebody has cared. And one thing that is incontrovertible is how much we’ve cared.”

The line against Apple is that its pace of innovation is off, but Ive and Federighi dismiss that. The two are keen to point out not just new features, but also the deep layers of integration that went into each one. Of the 5S’s fingerprint scanner, Ive says, “there are so many problems that had to be solved to enable one big idea.” Without mentioning competitors (Samsung), it’s clear the two executives think some of what passes for innovation is illusory at best. “We didn’t start opportunistically with 10 bits of technology that we could try to find a use for to add to our features list,” Ive says.

Cook also discussed Android:

In Cook’s view, the incompatibilities between various Android versions make each an entirely different species. The Android operating systems are “not the latest ones by the time people buy,” he says. A recent survey of smartphones sold by AT&T showed 25 Android handsets; six did not have the latest operating system. “And so by the time they exit, they’re using an operating system that’s three or four years old. That would be like me right now having in my pocket iOS 3. I can’t imagine it.”

The entire interview is worth a read over at Bloomberg. We have an exclusive deal on a 1 year subscription to Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine for just $20 today. It is available for up to 3 years and comes with digital access as well. Head over to 9to5Toys for all the details.

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How Apple Watch Was Researched And Developed

Kevin Lynch, who was a former Adobe executive in charge of the Flash platform before Apple poached him to lead Watch software development as its Vice President of Technology, has shared a number of interesting tidbits related to the years of Watch research and development in an extensive piece published by Wired on Thursday.

Apparently, Jony Ive and his design team presented an idea for a wrist-worn device during one of design meetings for iOS 7. Lynch, who was hired after the project was already underway, didn’t even know what he would be working on at Apple.

The team spent more than a year adjusting the device’s Taptic Engine to feel just right on your wrist, even sampling sounds from bell clappers and birds to lightsabers in an effort to turn them into physical sensations. And the device itself underwent many prototypes and iterations before Apple’s Board signed off on it.

On Lynch’s first day on the job, the device was up for a design review in two days even though there was no working prototype or software.

Apple human interface designer Alan Dye said that the idea of a Watch came up during design meetings for iOS 7. “There was a sense that technology was going to move onto the body,” he said “We felt like the natural place, the place that had historical relevance and significance, was the wrist.”

Lynch adds:

So it went in the Apple design studio: As the team worked away on app-launch animations and the new iOS 7 Control Center, daytime conversations about smartphone software led to late-night discussions about other devices. Questions started coalescing around the idea of a watch.

What could it add to people’s lives? What new things could you do with a device that you wear? Around this time, Ive began a deep investigation of horology, studying how reading the position of the sun evolved into clocks, which evolved into watches. Horology became an obsession. That obsession became a product.

Some of the earlier device prototypes used a vertical timeline interface akin to the Pebble Time smartwatch. Thankfully, Apple nixed the idea in its early stage because interacting this way took too long. Here’s San Francisco, a font designed specifically for the Watch’s tiny display.

As for Taptic Engine, which provides haptic feedback on your wrist, it was revised and improved upon for well over a year under the watchful eye of Jony Ive and his team.

Apple tested and fine tuned many Taptic Engine prototypes, each with a slightly different feel. “Some were too annoying,” Lynch says. “Some were too subtle. Some felt like a bug on your wrist.”

When they had the engine dialed in, they started experimenting with a Watch-specific synesthesia, translating specific digital experiences into taps and sounds. What does a tweet feel like? What about an important text?

To answer these questions, designers and engineers sampled the sounds of everything from bell clappers and birds to lightsabers and then began to turn sounds into physical sensations.

The user interface went through three major iterations until the team cut interactions down to a few seconds. Lynch’s team discovered early on that long interactions were too uncomfortable due to the gorilla arm syndrome.

“It was all very understandable, but using it took way too long,” Lynch says. Also, it hurt. Seriously: Try holding up your arm as if you’re looking at your watch. Now count to 30. It was the opposite of a good user experience. “We didn’t want people walking around and doing that,” Dye says.

“An interaction with the Watch could last only five seconds, ten at most,” Dye added. Noting that Apple itself created the problem of smartphone addiction in the first place, the article goes on to explain that the company may fix it with a square slab of metal and a Milanese loop strap.

Our phones have become invasive. But what if you could engineer a reverse state of being? What if you could make a device that you wouldn’t—couldn’t—use for hours at a time? What if you could create a device that could filter out all the bullshit and instead only serve you truly important information?

You could change modern life. And so after three-plus decades of building devices that grab and hold our attention—the longer the better—Apple has decided that the way forward is to fight back.

Here are some of the Watch complications that can be put on watch faces to customized your experience. In watchmaking, complications augment timekeeping with additional functions like the weather, week numbers and so forth. A complication on the Apple watch can be anything that’s quickly digestible.

Customization was one of the key features from the onset, because “personalization and beauty are everything” with watches, as Dye puts it.

“We didn’t want to have three variations, we wanted to have millions of variations,” he said. “Through hardware and software, we could do that.”

Check out the full Wired article linked below, it’s an awesome read.

The article touches upon many specifics related to Watch development, including slimming down the iPhone software to fit constrained resources on the device, the creation of a plethora of Watch bands, researching materials, developing watch faces and software complications and much more.

Apple will start taking pre-orders for the device on April 10, with shipments scheduled to commence on April 24.

Source: Wired

Apple Patent Describes Apple Watch Camera With A Solution To The Angle Problem

An Apple Watch camera is one of the things that could make it more practical for the wearable device to eventually replace an iPhone.

But even if Apple included a camera in a future watch, there’s an obvious problem …

How do you give people the freedom to frame the photo as they wish, while still allowing them to see the image on the display of the Watch?

That’s a problem Apple tackles in a patent granted today.

Apple’s proposed solution is to integrate the camera into part of the band, rather than the Watch itself. You’d be able to pull out a section of the band, which would be flexible so you can angle it as desired. The lens itself would rotate on the end of the band for complete flexibility.

A potential barrier to smartwatch adoption is their minimal image-capturing ability. Some embodiments described herein include a smartwatch with the functionality of a camera that is independently positionable relative to a watch body. This can allow the smartwatch to capture images and video at angles and orientations that do not depend directly on the angle and orientation of the rest of the smartwatch, including the watch body. Such functionality can replace or at least meaningfully augment a user’s existing camera or camera-enabled device (e.g., smartphone, tablet). Such a wearable device that captures images and video may do so via an optical lens integrated into a distal end portion of a watch band that retains the device on a user’s wrist.

But what about FaceTime? It would be awkward to have to hold the Apple Watch camera in place. The patent has a solution to that too.

In some embodiments, the extension portion of the camera watch band may maintain its form after being manipulated and released by a user, to maintain a user-set camera orientation relative to the rest of the smartwatch. To help maintain its form, the flexible camera watch band may include a malleable metal core, a core of magnetorhelogical fluid, mechanical links, or any combination of these features. In some embodiments, the optical sensor may be disposed in a rigid housing within the distal end portion of the camera watch band. Alternatively, the optical sensor may removably mount to the watch body to secure the optical sensor in a closer fixed position relative to the watch body.

Just as iPhones have cameras on both sides, so too could a Watch band – and they could include the ability to shoot 360-degree video.

In some embodiments, a second optical sensor is coupled to the opposing side of the camera watch band to which the first optical sensor is coupled. The user may quickly switch between optical sensors or capture images or video from either optical sensor or from both optical sensors at the same time.

There could also be several different ways to actually take the photo.

The optical sensor may capture images or video when the user takes an affirmative action such as pinching the camera watch band, giving a verbal command, pressing a button on the distal end portion of the camera watch band, or pressing a button on the case (e.g., on the screen of the display, which may include a graphical input on a touchscreen of the display).

Apple says the invention would free us from the need to carry an iPhone, at least some of the time.

A smartwatch that has the capability of capturing images and video may provide an opportunity for users to be more reliant on their smartwatch and less reliant on other devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, digital cameras) to capture images or videos. Thus, a smartwatch with the capability of capturing images or videos may enable a user to forego carrying a smartphone when doing some activities, especially activities or environments where it would be difficult to take a smartphone (e.g., hiking, running, swimming, surfing, snowboarding, and any number of other situations).

In our poll, a third of you said there was a better-than-even chance that an Apple Watch could replace your iPhone within a few years.

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Adapting Iphone And Apple Watch To A 3

It’s easy to dismiss how reliant a modern lifestyle is on the ability to constantly charge batteries and consume large quantities of data over WiFi. Even minor interruptions to internet and electrical services can be frustrating inconveniences, but how do iPhones, Apple Watches, and Macs fare during an extended period off the grid? I unexpectedly found out this week.

Shortly after noon on July 20th, a round of severe storms sent a large cedar tree crashing to the ground in my front yard, severing the power and communication lines running to my home and office. Outages were widespread throughout the entire region, with countless trees and utility poles snapped. Cell towers were even offline for several hours. Maintenance crews began a 24/7 operation to restore service to nearly 170,000 customers in rural areas. Severe weather of this caliber is highly uncommon along the northern edge of the Midwestern United States.

While most family and friends had power and internet restored within about a day, the single line running from my house to the road was a low priority for a crew overworked and stretched thin tackling larger outages. Power wasn’t restored until the afternoon of July 23rd, roughly 76 hours later. Internet service remains disconnected as I write this.

The tree that disconnected my power and communication lines.

Low Power Mode

MacBooks could benefit from Low Power Mode, too. Switching from the power adapter to battery power already enables a number of energy-saving features, but a toggle for further performance optimizations — like freezing background apps — could significantly improve power-hungry macOS. My MacBook was the most challenging device to keep charged by far, especially since it can’t be fed with a standard portable USB-A power bank.

Personal Hotspot

I’ve used Personal Hotspot on my iPhone more in the past four days than in the four years prior to this outage. Sharing cell data with my MacBook has been critical for working while my home internet is down. Personal Hotspot is perfect for brief tethering sessions, but falls short for sustained use, especially when carrier overages are costly.

Data usage controls would make Personal Hotspot much more useful and economical. As of today, there’s no way to view how much data individual devices are using while tethered. On recent iPhones, the display notch also prevents you from viewing how many devices are connected in the status bar.

Low Data Mode

Similar to Low Power Mode, the addition of Low Data Mode on macOS could further alleviate cell data constraints. iOS 13 will add this capability to iPhones when it launches later this year. Some individual apps already have data control settings for features like autoplay video and high-resolution photos, but a system-wide toggle ensures nothing falls through the cracks. As it stands today, keeping a Mac connected via Personal Hotspot at all times is largely impractical without an unlimited data plan.

Data sharing between devices with the same Apple ID also has the potential to cut down on cellular usage. For apps present on both iOS and macOS like Messages, Mail, and Photos, data could theoretically be passed locally between devices instead of downloaded multiple times over the same cell connection.

Apple Watch

I charge my Apple Watch nightly no matter the circumstances and have been fortunate enough to never run the battery dead since upgrading to a Series 4 model last fall. Faced with the need to stretch my batteries as long as possible, I was pleasantly surprised by how long the latest Apple Watch can remain off a charger. Between Saturday morning and Monday evening, I only needed about 20 minutes of charging time to keep my watch running with a healthy margin of battery life. I minimized notifications and turned off WiFi to conserve power, but didn’t need to enter Power Reserve, dial back the display brightness, disable background app refresh, or enable Power Saving Mode in the Workout app.

The flashlight toggle first added in watchOS 4 is also surprisingly useful. I’ve never had a real reason to use it before aside from novelty, but in a pinch it just might be more useful than the iPhone’s flashlight because you can use it hands-free.

If you have a recent Apple Watch, don’t dismiss the feature as a gimmick — the 1,000-nit display is brighter than you might expect.

HomeKit

I’ve been slow to adopt HomeKit devices into my lifestyle, but with power restored and internet service still disconnected, I’m grateful only a few of my lights are smart. The HomeKit fixtures I do have are mostly inoperable right now, making them even less convenient than my standard lights and switches. Extended outages like mine are uncommon, but it’s worth considering the possibility of a similar event happening at your own home before throwing out all of your standard fixtures. Needless to say, my HomePod has also been reduced to an elegant paperweight.

Overstaying my welcome at Starbucks helped minimize data overages.

Lessons

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