After the (RED) Leica, the (RED) desk (in aluminum, of course)

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Following the interview in which Jony Ives and Marc Newson talked about their collaborative design of the one-off Leica M camera for the (RED) charity auction, the one-of-a-kind desk designed by the two has also been unveiled.

As you might expect, it’s made from machined aluminum, fabricated by renowned aluminum specialists Neal Feay Studio. The design is, though, not quite as minimalist as I’d expected, featuring a mosaic pattern on its surface. More photos below the fold …

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Jony Ive and Marc Newson talk collaboration and development of one-off Leica for (RED) auction

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Earlier this week, we reported on some details and photos of the one-off Leica camera designed by Apple’s Jony Ive and Marc Newson for the Product(RED) campaign. Leica originally shared some interesting tidbits about the functionality and development process of the camera, but now, Vanity Fair has published an extensive interview with Ive and Newson about the process. The report provides an interesting look into Apple PR’s process of organizing interviews of its executives: Read more

Original iPhone radio engineer details the heart (and Scotch) pounding moments that lead up to the Steve Jobs iPhone announcement

Fred Vogelstein, author of Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution, has published a massive, detailed account of the atmosphere around Apple in the lead up to the historic announcement of the original iPhone in 2007. This particular profile, which is entitled “And Then Steve Said, ‘Let There Be an iPhone,’” appears in The New York Times Magazine and portrays the exceptional excitement and nervous energy that encompassed the people who worked tirelessly to deliver what we now love and know as the iPhone.

Vogelstein begins with describing how Andy Grignon, the senior engineer behind OS X’s Dashboard and iChat, felt terrified ahead of his boss Steve Jobs demoing the iPhone publicly to world, namely because Grignon was responsible for the iPhone’s radios and his work was facing the ultimate challenge of sink or swim in front of the entire world, and more particularly the press.

 Grignon and some colleagues would spend the night at a nearby hotel, and around 10 a.m. the following day they — along with the rest of the world — would watch Jobs unveil the first iPhone.

But as Grignon drove north, he didn’t feel excited. He felt terrified. Most onstage product demonstrations in Silicon Valley are canned. The thinking goes, why let bad Internet or cellphone connections ruin an otherwise good presentation? But Jobs insisted on live presentations. It was one of the things that made them so captivating. Part of his legend was that noticeable product-demo glitches almost never happened. But for those in the background, like Grignon, few parts of the job caused more stress.

Much of the piece illustrates the colorful gems of reality for the team behind the iPhone:

By the end, Grignon wasn’t just relieved; he was drunk. He’d brought a flask of Scotch to calm his nerves. “And so there we were in the fifth row or something — engineers, managers, all of us — doing shots of Scotch after every segment of the demo. There were about five or six of us, and after each piece of the demo, the person who was responsible for that portion did a shot. When the finale came — and it worked along with everything before it, we all just drained the flask. It was the best demo any of us had ever seen. And the rest of the day turned out to be just a [expletive] for the entire iPhone team. We just spent the entire rest of the day drinking in the city. It was just a mess, but it was great.”

Read on for more entertaining anecdotes and tales of what happened behind-the-scenes (and in the fifth row, in this instance) that made Apple’s tremendous announcement possible (and endurable). Read more

iWatch watch: a roundup of some of the more interesting concepts

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Some iWatch concepts are, well, just a bit silly. But this concept by Stephen Olmstead has the kind of restrained design one might expect from Apple. Sure, the hardware design doesn’t quite have the finesse and finish of something Jony Ive would create, but it strikes me as along the right lines. The matching colored wallpaper and straps are a good fit with both iOS 7 and what we’re expecting from the iPhone 5C.

Some of the screens look a little unrealistic – I don’t see anyone scrolling through apps one at a time like that, or hitting a date on a calendar of that size – but Siri, Weather and Compass all look good. And Facetime on the iWatch? Hell yeah: we’ve all been wanting wristwatch videophones since those SF programs we watched as a kid, right?

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Martin Hajeck always produces interesting work. While I’m not a fan of the rather chunky-looking hardware shown here (I’d hope Apple can create something sleeker), the colored, embossed leather straps look every inch the sort of thing you’d expect Apple to produce…. Read more

Apple continues website redesign, flattens support pages

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As noted by several 9to5 readers, Apple has just recently updated its Support pages through Apple.com to better reflect the redesign the rest of the site has been receiving in recent months.  Today’s update provides a new design for the majority of support pages available through Apple.com/support, including: Videos, Manuals, Tech Specs, and Downloads.

Apple used to present these pages using a design that was a few generations behind the rest of the site and displayed links in a search result style list. Today’s update brings a flat grid style layout that allows users to select or search for a product in order to find related manuals, videos, tech specs, etc, but also displays search results by product in the grid layout.

Apple.com’s search result pages also get a cleaner look today to match the recent Apple online store design (pictured below). Read more

From beta 1 to release: how each major iOS version has transformed

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Following its introduction earlier this month, Apple’s newest operating system has fallen under criticism and scrutiny from both designers and casual users alike. Due to both the tight development timetable and the new design direction under Jony Ive, following the removal of former iOS SVP Scott Forstall last fall, iOS 7 is, understandably, the most controversial and intriguing iOS version yet.

In response to much of the negative criticism directed towards iOS 7, some have suggested that iOS 7 will change substantially before it is released to the general public. Looking back at previous versions of iOS reveals a long trend of subtle refinements to the operating system during beta periods, not dramatic changes. Let’s take a look at how each version of iOS has transformed:

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Bloomberg: Apple to release its iWatch within 9 months

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Bloomberg reported earlier this year that Apple had a team of over 100 product designers working on a wristwatch-like device. At the time, we noted that all the recent rumors and intel surrounding the iWatch seemed like the lead up to an impending product launch. Bloomberg is out with a new report today, claiming Apple will indeed launch its watch product in 2013:

Apple seeks to introduce the device as soon as this year, this person said. Apple has filed at least 79 patent applications that include the word “wrist,” including one for a device with a flexible screen, powered by kinetic energy… The watch business is experiencing a renaissance reminiscent of the cell phone industry before the iPhone.

The report added information about some of the potential features of the device that we had also heard of previously, including the ability to receive incoming calls, view maps, and record health data via various sensors:

Features under consideration include letting users make calls, see the identity of incoming callers and check map coordinates, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. It would also house a pedometer for counting steps and sensors for monitoring health-related data, such as heart rates, this person said.

Citigroup Inc. analyst Oliver Chen estimated Apple could generate $6 billion of the approximately $60 million in sales he expects the global watch industry to bring in during 2013. As pointed out by Bloomberg, gross margins are roughly four times bigger than TVs, which would only bring about $1.79 billion in gross profit for the company compared to $3.6 billion for watches.

Former creative director at Nike Scott Wilson told Bloomberg that Apple’s Jonathan Ive “has long had an interest in watches.” Read more

Full Jony Ive BBC video reveals ‘out of the box’ thinking on product naming, David Beckham connection

9to5Mac showed you a clip just last week from a recent BBC special of Sir Jony Ive receiving the prestigious gold Blue Peter badge (known as the highest accolade given out by the BBC’s Blue Peter program). We got our hands on the full Jony Ive clip from the technology special today, where we learn, among other things, about Apple’s ‘out of the box’ thinking on product naming and a little-known connection to David Beckham.

If we’re thinking of a lunchbox, we’d be really careful about not having the word ‘box’… already give you bunch of ideas that could be quite narrow. Because you think of a box being a square and like a cube. And so we’re quite careful with the words we use because those can sort of determine the path that you go down.

Perhaps you could replace ‘Box’ with ‘watch’ and be on to something.

Earlier this year, Apple’s design guru assumed software design responsibilities from former longtime iOS chief Scott Forstall. CEO Tim Cook said in a recent interview that Ive “has the best taste of anyone in the world” and looks forward to his new role designing the “look and feel of the software.” Read more

Report: Scott Forstall wouldn’t participate in Jony Ive’s iPhone design meetings

Earlier this week, we learned iOS chief Scott Forstall will leave Apple at the end of this year and has been moved to an advisory role to CEO Tim Cook until then. Giving us a look into the closed doors of Apple, Bloomberg noted this morning that Forstall and famed-Apple designer Jony Ive had a fiery relationship and couldn’t work together in the same room—nor be together during meetings. During the beginning design phases, Forstall was present in Ive’s iPhone meetings:

Even as Forstall oversaw the group responsible for the software that would run the iPhone, he didn’t participate in the meetings, according to people with knowledge of the matter who requested anonymity because the meetings were private. Ive and Forstall were rarely in the same room, the people said.

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Covering the Apple Exec Shakeup: Mansfield lured back by Forstall departure, Ive will clean UI, eliminate skeuomorphic design

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:

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Observations on Forstall and Browett departures from Apple (Updated)

The announcement

We knew that Browett was fired last week, but Apple was waiting for a good time to announce the move. We’re not sure exactly what was the nail in Forstall’s coffin but Inside Apple/Fortune’s Adam Lashinky’s take is that Forstall’s refusalto sign the Maps apology is what sealed his fate. Forstall was at last week’s iPad mini event but uncharacteristically didn’t present anything.


iPad Mini launch last week

Interestingly, Cook also did the apologizing for Browett’s hair-brained schemes to cut head counts at Apple Stores ahead of the holiday shopping season to save a few bucks.

Lesson to learn: Be big enough to apologize publicly. Look at Bob Mansfield. Out of Retirement Mansfield publicly apologized for the Retina MacBook Pro EPEAT fiasco; fast forward months and all of a sudden he’s got his own division and a lucrative two year contract. Apple execs should be falling over themselves to apologize for their mistakes going forward.

The rationale

Browett’s situation was simple: everyone hated him, especially his retail employees. Apple watchers, especially those familiar with Dixons in the UK (Americans: think Best Buy), were shocked at the decision to allow him to follow Ron Johnson as Apple’s Retail head.  Cook initially defended Browett but the #Firebrowett movement was too strong. So far Tim Cook is 0 for 2 in big outside hires (Mark Papermaster was hired during one of Jobs’ absences) . That might be something to be concerned about.

Forstall’s departure is an entirely different situation. Although more information may come to light, in the hours after the announcement it seems a power struggle happened, and the Ive camp won out over Forstall’s.  The two execs and Steve Jobs subordinates have faced off for years and reportedly wouldn’t be in the same meetings unless called specifically by Tim Cook. It certainly didn’t help that Mansfield didn’t like Forstall either. I think we’ll hear more of the details in the weeks and months ahead.

The new situation Read more

Jony Ive explains design process of Apple’s new EarPods [Video]

We told you they were coming: Apple officially unveiled its new “EarPods” earlier today. The company explained during this morning’s media event that the EarPods are three years in the making. Apple has yet to post the video of the full iPhone 5/iPod event, but now we get a look at a video played during the presentation. It features Jony Ive explaining the process of creating the new earbuds. In addition to the engineering process described by Ives above, Apple explained on its website that it tested over 100 prototypes to make the EarPods more durable and stable than its previous-generation earphones:

Apple engineers asked more than 600 people to test over 100 iterations of the Apple EarPods. Testers ran on treadmills in extreme heat and extreme cold. They performed various cardio workouts. They were even asked to shake their heads side to side, up and down. The result: Apple EarPods provide stronger protection from sweat and water, and they’re remarkably stable in the ear. Which means they stay in, even when you’re on the go.