Under Steve Jobs, Apple products were a little bi-polar. The hardware was and is designed to be elegantly simple by Jonathan Ive. The software was crafted to be photo realistic by Scott Forstall’s team seemingly with the blessing of Steve Jobs.
Apple lost Steve Jobs to cancer, and fired Scott Forstall. Now Jony Ive is head of Apple’s “human interface” team and will be making the decisions about the design of both the hardware and the software. The result will apparently be more coherence between the look and feel of Apple’s hardware and software.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Ive is pushing a more ‘flat design’ that is starker and simpler. “Sources that spoke with WSJ said the first changes will likely be “pretty conservative.”
One of Jony Ive’s most famous quotes is, “It’s a very strange thing for a designer to say, but one of the things that really irritates me in products is when I’m aware of designers wagging their tails in my face.” It’s hard not to think he was talking about design that shows off a designer’s talent rather than disappearing in the service of functionality.
Today Apple updated its controversial Podcast app and the changes we’ve seen may foreshadow the kind of flattening Ive has in mind. Gone is the photo-realistic, animated, reel-to- reel tape deck. It’s replaced by simple album art.
The new Podcast app exchanges fancy for functional with new features like playlists called “my stations” and iCloud integration to keep podcast syncing the same for all iDevices that share an account.
Ive believes, “Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That’s not simple.”
An iPhone that is simpler than the versions Apple has released so far is hard to imagine. If anyone can be trusted to deliver something better than we’ve already seen, it is Jony Ive and his now unified team.