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Big Revolution - Jony Ive and the future of Apple design

Welcome to Friday’s newsletter, brought to you from a train taking me home to Manchester after last n
June 28 · Issue #457 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Friday’s newsletter, brought to you from a train taking me home to Manchester after last night’s Europas. Having celebrated a year of success in the European tech sector, it’s time to get back in the weeds and do my own little bit to help it to another successful year, whatever ends up happening with Brexit.
– Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Jony Ive is leaving Apple. The designer who defined the look of consumer electronics for a generation will start his own design firm… and Apple will be his first client. More on this below.
  • Twitter will now take action against even ‘newsworthy’ users who break its rules. People like Donald Trump used to be able to get a free pass based on their importance to public debate. Now Twitter will notify users when such a tweet violates its rules, and reduce its algorithmic reach.
  • It’s possible to hack the USA’s mobile emergency alerts system to spread panic via fake notifications, researchers have found.
The big thought
Jony Ive and Tim Cook. Credit: Apple
Jony Ive and Tim Cook. Credit: Apple
Jony Ive and the future of Apple design
The announcement that Jony Ive is leaving Apple shouldn’t surprise any keen Apple watchers, but it’s still a momentous piece of news. 
Ive embodied the spirit of the second Steve Jobs era, when Apple’s products always looked distinctive and set a blueprint for others to follow. Sometimes his designs strayed a little too far towards novelty (the anglepoise iMac, anyone?) but they always stood out.
But as I wrote recently when I bought a Microsoft Surface Book 2 instead of a MacBook Pro, Apple’s designs have now been boring for far too long. Ive had reportedly focused on developing the Apple Park campus for several years, and although he supposedly still had oversight over the company’s consumer products, little of his previous flair made its way onto store shelves anymore.
The last two ‘wow’ moments from Apple in terms of design were the ‘trashcan’ Mac Pro (a ‘mess’ but a mess with striking looks), and the iPhone X’s notch. Even then, the notch is a mere compromise between camera technology and screen size. The notch annoys some people, but pretty much every flagship smartphone from every manufacturer for the next 12 months after the iPhone X’s release featured one, whether it was necessary or not.
Other than that, these days Apple’s laptops keep getting a little thinner, the tone of ‘Space Grey’ changes a little, but other than that… meh? Apple piles them high and sells them expensive, with little thought for setting a new design agenda. Its products still look good, but they don’t inspire.
We don’t know exactly how Ive’s new firm will help Apple, but design doesn’t seem much a priority there anymore, so the answer may be ‘not very much.’
As John Gruber points out, the future of Apple’s design team raises concerns, with no top-level executive to replace Ive. While his influence may be felt in the appearance of the company’s new products over the next few years as projects in the development pipeline now come to market, I don’t expect we’ll see anything as striking as the anglepoise iMac ever again. A shame.
One big read
In Streaming Age, Classical Music Gets Lost in the Metadata In Streaming Age, Classical Music Gets Lost in the Metadata
How classical music loses out due to the way streaming platforms are designed with pop music in mind.
One big tweet
Never forget the inelegant mouse that you had to turn upside down to charge.
laura olin
Every forthcoming article about Jonny Ive’s design genius and legacy should be required by law to include this photo
10:25 PM - 27 Jun 2019
That’s all for today...
See you in your inbox tomorrow for your weekend big reads.
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