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Apple's Past, Present, and Future Shared in Jonathan Ive Interview

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Apple's SVP of design Jony Ive sat down with the New York Times to discuss the company's product focus, its design future, and the climate under CEO Tim Cook.

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This November, it will have been two years since Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) ditched the ubiquitous skeuomorphic design scheme for its software when it canned the executive who championed the style, former Senior VP of iPhone Software Scott Forstall. From then on, the company has conspicuously adopted a simpler, flatter look for its platforms -- evidenced by the grand overhaul in last year's iOS 7 and the ongoing tweaks in Mac OS X -- and has even thrown a few potshots at Forstall during live presentations.
 
Many attribute the bold new look of iOS and its blending into Mac OS X to Senior VP of Design Jonathan "Jony" Ive -- or as he's otherwise known, that intense, folically challenged Brit from those Apple developer videos. Ive's vision has carried Apple into the post-Jobs era, where simplicity and function trump green felt and stitched leather. Suffice it to say that Ive will continue to have a major role in the way Apple products look for the foreseeable future, so to hear his thoughts on where the company is headed would be quite the coup.
 
Fortunately, the New York Times managed just that when it sat down with Ive and asked him a few questions about Apple's product focus, its design process, and its climate under CEO Tim Cook.
 
The exec related that life with Cook isn't much different from when Steve Jobs was in charge -- but one has to assume there have been fewer "fired in an elevator" tales. Ive said, "Steve established a set of values, and he established preoccupations and tones that are completely enduring -- and he established those principles with a small team of people. I've been ridiculously lucky to be part of it. But Tim was very much part of that team -- for that last 15 or 20 years." He added that Apple's core of small, focused teams and their inclination to be curious and inquisitive hasn't changed at all.
 
Ive also hinted that a significant redesign to an existing product line will be coming down the pike very soon, or possibly a brand-new device altogether.
 
"I would love to talk about future stuff -- they're materials we haven't worked in before," Ive said. "I've been working on this stuff for a few years now. Tim is fundamentally involved in pushing into these new areas and into these materials."
 
This statement coincides with Apple's partnership with sapphire glass maker GT Advanced -- there's now potential for scratch-proof sapphire screens to make their way to future iPhones. Additionally, Apple recently renewed an exclusive licensing deal with LiquidMetal and may employ the plastic-like metal alloy in upcoming devices.
 
But as the public chomps at the bit for these exciting updates and new products to see the light of day, Ive revealed that impatience and frustrations over delays also run rampant within the hallowed halls of Cupertino.
 
"It is hard for us all to be patient," he said. "It was hard for Steve. It is hard for Tim. At any point in time, working on something, it's always hard to just keep focusing on the product."
 
But focus they do, as Ive stressed how it's paramount to the development of a product.
 
"I wish I could do a better job in communicating this truth here, which is when you really are focused on the product, that's not a platitude," he said. "When that truly is your reason for coming into the studio, is just to try to make the very best product you can, when that is exclusive of everything else, it's remarkable how insignificant or unimportant a lot of other stuff becomes. Titles or organizational structures, that's not the lens through which we see our peers."
 
That being said, we're just glad they got rid of the stitched leather.
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