Since Apple announced late last month that longtime iOS chief Scott Forstall and newly appointed head of retail John Browett would soon leave the company, there has been much talk about CEO Tim Cook’s direction at the executive level going forward.

The departure of Forstall saw bigger responsibilities and new roles given to executives Craig Federighi, Bob Mansfield, and Jony Ive, leading to rumors Forstall didn’t see eye to eye with the other executives. Bob Mansfield’s return after announcing retirement is also interesting, as it is something new sources said was directly influenced by Forstall leaving. Some even said Forstall’s refusal to sign the Maps apology lead to Cook’s decision. There are a few in-depth reports today, with many citing people close to the company, speculating on what these changes might actually mean for the company and for iOS in the months and years to come.

AllThingsD is out with a new report, claiming Mansfield’s return might have been directly influenced by Forstall’s departure:

All Things D:

Sources said that Mansfield was actually very serious about retiring, which makes his quick return to Apple all the more curious… As one source close to the company told AllThingsD, “The timing of Bob’s return is notcoincidental.” To begin, Mansfield was not a fan of Forstall’s confrontational management style, and sources said he generally tried to avoid the iOS exec.

“It wasn’t a him-or-me situation,” one source said of Mansfield’s return and Forstall’s ouster. “But, put it this way, I think Bob was much more willing to commit to two more years once he knew Scott was on his way out.”

Many of the reports speculated Jony Ive’s new role picking up Forstall’s Human Interface responsibilities would lead to major changes in iOS’ visual design:

The New York Times:

While Mr. Forstall’s abrasive style and resistance to collaboration with other parts of the company were the main factors in his undoing, the change also represents the departure of the most vocal and high-ranking proponent of the visual design style favored by Mr. Jobs.… The executive who will now set the direction for the look of Apple’s software is Jonathan Ive, who has long been responsible for Apple’s minimalist hardware designs. Mr. Ive, despite his close relationship with Mr. Jobs, has made his distaste for the visual ornamentation in Apple’s mobile software known within the company, according to current and former Apple employees who asked not to be named discussing internal matters.

Reuters:

Forstall often clashed with other executives, said a person familiar with him, adding he sometimes tended to over-promise and under-deliver on features. Now, Federighi, Ive and Cue have the opportunity to develop the look, feel and engineering of the all-important software that runs iPhones and iPads…. Forstall’s departure may free Ive of certain constraints, the sources said. His exit brought to the fore a fundamental design issue — to do or not to do digital skeuomorphic designs. Skeuomorphic designs stay true to and mimic real-life objects, such as the bookshelf in the iBooks icon, green felt in its Game Center app icon, and an analog clock depicting the time.

The Wall Street Journal: 

Examples of outmoded design that may have irked some at the notoriously perfectionist Apple include touches added to Apple apps in an effort to make them resemble physical objects. It may be superfluous, for instance, that Apple’s new app for storing mobile versions of movie and airline tickets uses an animated paper shredder when tickets are deleted. The iBooks app arranges e-books on faux wooden shelves. Some would prefer apps that are more focused on function than unnecessary visual flourishes.

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