Did you guys know Apple lost its soul?

So apparently, according to this new book at least, when Ive left Apple, Apple lost its soul.

I have no idea if the book is sincere (and the cover IMHO casts some doubt). But if it is, sure sounds like it could be an interesting read.

Was I the only one not sorry to see “Form-Over-Function” Jony go?

Corporations have no soul, and they are not persons either.



No, you definitely is not the only one who is happy that “Form-Over-Function” is gone. Hidden buttons and functions, and slippery hardware are neither user friendly nor ergonomical.


Here are my tears over Ives’s departure:
Here is the amount of money and time I will spend on this book:


I’ve always suspected that the “Apple creating a $17,000 gold version and partnering with Hermès” and focusing on Watch as a “fashion first” accessory, is what ultimately did Jony Ives in:

And “form follows function” is very different than “form over function.”

“Design isn’t just what you see and feel. The design also relates to how something functions.” This might sound like a slogan of the Bauhaus school, but it’s actually a quote of the founder of Apple. Specifically, Steve Jobs strictly adhered to the belief that form should follow function, and that is completely obvious in the world of design and technology to which he belonged.”

And I think Steve was much more of a Bauhaus guy than Ives. So is Tim.


Jony Ives was also responsible for the Butterfly Keyboard disaster:


I think we can tell who was the source for the book (and the Times article that just came out). The annoying thing is that the writer doesn’t really seem to have a good sense of how Apple has and does work. Steve was a creative mind, but also one with a strong sense of practicality and usability (not that he always succeeded or sometimes didn’t get things wrong). My sense was always that he kept Ive’s more extreme impulses in check. With him gone, Cook didn’t have the same sensibility and so Ive could run unchecked for quite a long time, ending up with the high end Apple Watch and the “turn it sideways and it disappears” laptops.

Jobs wanted to design computers that were artistic. Ive wants to design pieces of art that are also computers.


I always thought he was a good designer… ut his incessant thin-ness and the obscure UI elements were wrong…and he was given too much control. Form is important…but function should win and we still have obscure UI elements and hidden places you don’t know to press.


We’ve been discussing the New York Times article this morning. While the author clearly takes Ive’s side, I don’t think it paints a great picture of him. In the post-Jobs era, I saw Ive as growing more disconnected from reality and Apple humoring him only to protect its brand image. The profile verified all of my suspicions.

Ive is undoubtedly the greatest industrial designer of the 21st century, but it was long past time for him to go.


Nailed it. I wanted to comment almost exactly what you did, Silbey. I think Jobs and Ives were the perfect pair, namely because Jobs had the practicality and functional mindset to reign in Ives’ pure creativity.


I hadn’t thought of the solid gold Edition Apple Watch as what did Ives in, but I certainly thought of it as a stupid foible. Maybe it was necessary to build celebrity buzz, to make the Apple Watch desirable… It was just the other day I commented “How many of those $17,000 gold watches are sitting in a safe somewhere with the screen popped off because of a swollen lithium battery?” I bet most of them… On the other hand, I’d much rather have a gold Rolex (though I personally despise the Rolex marketing machine and brand, but do love some watches such as the Explorer) than a non-functional lump of Apple gold “watch.” At least I know that after sitting in a safe for years, that Rolex will still work and tell time, regardless of whether the Rolex hype machine has created any additional value out of it.

I definitely feel that putting Ives in charge of software in addition to hardware didn’t do anyone any favors. Sure, the skeuomorphism of the Jobs/Forestall app era were over the top. But it gave some connection to real object analogs. Whereas Ives’ app design unnecessarily abstracted away useful contrast in favor of too much whitespace, making app usability plummet.

They didn’t lose it, they just made it into a consultant.

Yeah, I read the Times excerpt, and as much as I admired the original iMacs along with the thought behind them, the morphing of UI into low-contrast, treasure-hunt-and-peck functionality has had me screaming at my Mac at times over the past 10 years. Some of Ives’ worst ideas were at first irreversible — built into the interface with no preference to see it any other way. It took mammoth feedback from the real world to make things like menu bar transparency configurable.

Yes. A 27 inch screen became a necessity for a while, and the more “responsive” apps were forced to make app views looked crowded on smaller monitors.

OHMYGOD, menu bar transparency. And window header transparency. Who the hell (Ives) thought that was a good idea? Stupid. I wish we could get all the newer, younger engineers who are obviously at Apple to read the original G- D- Human Interface Guidelines for a change! I mean, that stuff worked!


They were clearly copying Microsoft, who introduced transparency in their Windows Vista “Aero” theme (released in 2007).

Fortunately, you can turn it off, using the Accessibility preference panel’s Reduce transparency option:


The sad thing is, in the latest incarnation of the OS, if you turn it all off in Accessibility, it’s even uglier, but no more usable, maybe less. Most of the parts that showed through just take on the color of the adjacent panels and there is no contrast at all to help in discrimination of the interface.

In earlier releases, the Accessibility features made it better, but no longer. I don’t think anyone spent anytime working with the resulting “Accessibility.”

I gave up and went back to the defaults, sadder and disgruntled.


You might enjoy this review of the book by Clay Shirkey, also from the NYT. A quote from the review: “By the end, the sense that the two [Ives and Cook] missed a chance to create a worthy successor to the iPhone is palpable. It’s also hooey, and the best evidence for that is the previous 400 pages.”


I am delighted at Ive’s departure, mostly for what he did to iOS. Aesthetics differ and skeuomorphism might have gotten out of hand, but his design of iOS 7 sucked all the delight out of using it for me.

With the complete makeover, they had a chance in iOS 7 to improve its usability and what we got was a vanity change based purely upon Ive’s personal aesthetic. I agree with the other comments about the keyboard fiasco, difficulty in repairing. etc.

I think the watch was a fantastic product as are the new Arm-based Macs (though I guess Ive had no role in that product class), so I don’t think that Apple has lost its soul by any means.


I’ve been happily using Air Drop since its iOS 7 debut. And I don’t think the revised interface at that time was that terrible a disaster. And I liked that I could just look at the icon for Weather to see if it was raining or snowing, though some of the other icons looked and acted futzy.

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While I love many parts of the current aesthetic, for me the usability drift started in 1992 with the departure of the original research-and-testing-driven, form-follows-function interface guru, Bruce “Tog” Tognazzini.

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Steve and Jony worked, Steve had the big picture to corral Jony’s vision into a great outcome. Tim stepped aside and left him to it. Jony found himself untethered and effectively left the building.

Looking forward to reading this one.