iPhone UI creator Greg Christie departing after falling out with Jony Ive over iOS design direction

By , Apr 9, 2014

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Ever since Tim Cook took the reigns at Apple, the firm’s been in a perpetual shakeup mode. The most famous change at the top occurred on October 29, 2012, the day a press release was put out saying “Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple” the following year.

The unexpected change saw Apple’s lead hardware designer Jony Ive assume a greater role as he got to “provide leadership and direction” for Apple’s Human Interface (HI) group across the company, on top of his longtime role as the leader of Industrial Design.

With Ive in charge of all design at the company, Apple has ushered in a new era of visual simplicity with the release of iOS 7 last September, representing the biggest rethinking of the iPhone’s user interface since the handset’s inception.

However, a new report asserts that collaboration between Ive and Apple’s Vice President of Human Interface, Greg Christie, has been a rocky one

In fact, Christie is rumored to be leaving Apple soon as a result of his falling out with Ive over the iOS’s design direction…

The well-informed blogger Mark Gurman has learned from sources familiar with the matter that Christie’s departure marks a new era at Apple as Ive is set to “completely subsume” Apple’s software design group soon.

Christie reports to Apple’s software head Craig Federighi. Prior to this shakeup, he the leader of Apple’s software design group prior as Ive typically attended interface design meetings to providing instructions and general guidelines.

When Ive tasked Apple’s Human Interface team with redesigning iOS 7 to include an entirely new look, Christie and Ive reportedly clashed over design direction, after which Ive is said to have circumvented Christie’s leadership of the team during the new operating system’s development.

Here’s a nice Jony Ive segment from Objectified, the documentary on industrial design.

Christie, along with the ousted iOS architect Scott Forstall, is apparently one of the biggest proponents of skeuomorphism.

Christie is also known to App Store software creators as the herald of Apple’s design aesthetic as he frequently held application design sessions and user-interface review meetings with developers at Apple’s WWDC conferences.

Christie’s name is on the famous slide-to-unlock patent and he’s been credited with at least one more invention, both of which are now being asserted against Samsung in the second California trial.

Last week, he took the witness stand during the second Apple vs. Samsung California trial to testify about the iPhone development, sharing anecdotal evidence on what obstacles the team had to overcome in order to make the iPhone appealing to normals.

jony ive

He was also featured in a Wall Street Journal article that offers a detailed look at early iPhone development. The article quotes Christie as confessing how Steve Jobs back in 2005 gave him an ultimatum: either he would present a compelling vision of what would become the iPhone’sUI or Steve would assign the project to another group.

Christie joined Apple in 1996 to work on Apple’s ill-fated Newton PDA project that featured a touchscreen controlled by a stylus. He continued to work at Apple on Mac software and retained his interest in portable computers until Scott Forstall in late-2004 waltzed into his office, closed the door and asked if he wanted to work on a secret project – the iPhone’s user interface.

Forstall, too, is believed to have had a rocky relationship with Ive.

At any rate, Ive’s just become beyond any doubt the most powerful figure at Apple - not by the virtue of position but considering his wide ranging influences which now encompass tangible and intangible look and feel of all of Apple’s hardware and software.

I remember reading in Walter Isaacson’s bio book on Steve Jobs that Apple’s late co-founder said he’d set things up so no one can touch Ive and this just proves it.

What’s your reaction to this development?

Is Christie’s departure a significant loss for Apple or a change for the better?

And has Ive become too powerful?

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  • Frank Anthony

    I think any changes is for the better. Fired or resigned, Leaving or staying.. But in Jony Ive i trust! Waiting for OS X radical redesign :)

    • édith Dupont

      I’m happy jobs did that

  • Mohammed Sahib

    Hope Ive won’t turn everything about Apple into neon colored-translucent rectangles and circles.

    • Maxim∑

      It was Apple’s marketing team not Ive. iOS 7 just needs a few UI changes and it will be pretty good.

      Ive is one of the top designers on Earth, I don’t think he was heavily involved with iOS 7 then as he is with iOS 8

    • DogeCoin

      like this? Thats an actual OS too, not concept art, it’s “Pear OS 8″ GNU/Linux distro. Not half bad though.

      • omrishtam

        this thing will never happen, it’s way too ugly and doesn’t fit the OS.
        i hate rumors so much, all they do is send false infromation about the product and usualy it’s an information that everyone wants (for example iPhone 4.7″ display) and people see it as a promise that this is what they will get.

  • Martin

    Is there a picture of Jony Ive smiling? He is like Kristen Stewart.

  • Naegi

    Jony Ive …..the reason i left iphone .

    • http://www.idownloadblog.com/author/dujkan Christian Zibreg

      It’s Ive, not I’ve

      • Naegi

        WOW …

      • Guest

        Don’t mess with Zibreg’s boyfriend!!!

    • http://kcain.com/ KC

      Not the reason I left, but a justification for it, that’s for sure. iOS 7 looks horrible. Give me skeumorphism any day if iOS 7 is the alternative.

      • Chindavon

        Skeumorphism reminds me of 80′s icons now.

      • DroidDoesnt_2

        iOS 7 reminds me of third grade art class…

      • Chindavon

        With crayons bleeding out past the lines…I know right

    • Abi Manyu

      good, more iphone for us fanboys

      • omrishtam

        there aren’y fanboys.
        as you can see they said they LEFT iphone, not hate it or something like that, they said they were disappointed of the design of iOS 7 so they left it.
        it means that they liked iphone once (i am pretty sure).
        wow, i am tired of this war, it’s their right to leave the iphone if they don’t like it.
        and as much as i love apple i am reall (REALLY) tired and annoyed of everyone bringing up this war and unfortunatly it seems like they enjoy it, so please stop.

      • http://www.datpiff.com/profile/Nuff_Saidd Nuff Said

        Did he not say “us” fanboys?

      • omrishtam

        he ment to write “more iphone for us, fanboys”
        (i am pretty sure)

    • Alberto Espinal

      And Apple stocks went down after you left!!

      • Naegi

        sorry if my comment affected you…. I forgot that apple is your family and everything you live for …i forgot that apple is the only reason for living ,i’m really sorry .I want do again…. never.. i promise ….Please forgive me ….
        I will return back to apple , please forgive me ….

      • Alberto Espinal

        No worries stay where you are, don’t know why bother coming back to an Apple Blog but you free to go wherever you want and say whatever you want, but really don’t understand this kind of Trolling!!

      • Naegi

        if you wasn’t such a fanboy…. you would have read my first post that i said i left the iphone ….
        Hey fanboy i left behind iphone -iphone-iphone ….only ….
        focus focus focus ….
        Some people including yourself live only for apple …
        Unfortunatelly you need help from a doctor …

      • Alberto Espinal

        Thanks i go to the doctor now get tha F* out of here

      • Naegi

        Looking at the positive feedback I got in my posts….it seems that somebody else must have the f@@ck out of here..
        So KMA and have the f@@ck out of here…..

      • Alberto Espinal

        Of course all the Trolls gave you the positive feedback and that’s it bro, just lets finish this BS right here!!

      • Naegi

        Yea… all of us a wrong and you are so right ….
        Man im not a troller , i love my mac and my ipad also ……but unfortunately i have my reasons for throwing away the iphone , for something else….
        Im stopping it here…..
        know why ?
        I cant convince you cause you are a fanboy , and just waiting in the corner when someone just writes something negative about apple …..
        BYE BYE

  • mlee19841

    My way or the highway. Either way I’m still staying with apple. Didn’t like iOS 7 at first but it grew on me.

  • n0ahcruz3

    To be honest the only thing i hate about ios 7 are the icons. Everything else is good. Oh and the fonts i dont like it

  • http://www.facebook.com/fourinchworld Michael Scott Allen

    This is actually a very good move and a traditionally Apple-like move as well. There is a direction they are going and you either get on board and help or you leave. I loved working there in the 80′s and sometimes wish I could go back, but regardless, Jony is a brilliant designer and I’m eager to see his next vision.

    • http://www.twinski.be Jarne

      You worked there! Why is this relevant to this article?

      • DIesel

        chill bro your comment was even less relevant

      • http://www.twinski.be Jarne

        I’m chill. Your comment is even less relevant than my already not so relevant comment!

      • gittlopctbi

        (I think he was just displaying jealousy.)

  • Alex-V

    What should Apple do..if they don’t update or change the ui..the comments are like ..they stay in the past or no new ideas…now they changed the style and the comments are like ..why they did such things..common guys ..this is fuxxxing crazy…

  • Austin Steffen

    I just don’t understand how people think ios 7 looks so good. Ios 7 is reason I’m buying nexus this fall. I’m still pissed I didn’t update my pad from 5 to 6 before it was too late cuz now no apps work with 5 but I still rather have 5 over 7 for it’s amazing design

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  • Tasma

    iOS 7 is a visual abomination but I’m not really mad about that. Pre iOS 7 was also not very appealing but at least you could jailbreak and make iOS beautiful. But iOS 7 killed that and now you don’t have a choice. That’s what really angers me. I’m still on iOS 6 for (thank god) for this reason. I made the right choice by upgrading to iOS 6.1.3 and hoping for an untethered jailbreak. I just wish Prowidgets was on iOS 6. Not sure what I’m gonna do once this iPhone 5 of mine becomes obsolete. Probably quit iPhone.

    • James Gunaca

      What about iOS 7 can you not change that you could in iOS 6, design wise? Complete winter board support is out for iOS 7…

      What did you change in iOS 6 that made it “beautiful”?

      • Rick Kreuk

        Winterboard on iOS 7 can only fully theme basic things like the Springboard icons. The icons within apps (add button, share button etcetera) only allow their shape to be changed, not their colour or texture. Other UI elements cannot be themed at all, like the menu bar.

        In iOS 6 almost every single UI element could be themed.

      • James Gunaca

        I still want to see what he perceives as beautiful.

  • madmaxmedia

    As long as Apple doesn’t lose Mr. Hair, they’ll be A-OK

    • omrishtam

      hairforce 1 lol

  • Decio Arruda

    All I wish is that OS X doesn’t see a change in functionality but in design. But, unlike iOS, I don’t want the size of certain buttons to change, at least not in the desktop.

  • ♋JULY 17♋

    Apple is movin forward even if he resign or not i think ive did his job which i like what steve jobs did like he had everything plan out and apple would still move for the future of dreams of jobs

  • ♋JULY 17♋

    i left google for apple just because everything looked great i got tired of google and apple might be slow as development but you think about it they take their time and focus on the errors and quickly make something everybody like.. Alot of people might not like ios7 but who cares what you think half of the rest of the world like it and agree with the change… That what i think

  • 5ingularity

    Everything in ios 7 just….white….

  • Donovan

    Well yea, I’m with Christie here. I love the skeumo.. iOS 6 design. But now I’m kinda used to iOS7. Like, my eyes wont bleed from agony anymore.

  • mav3rick

    This so called “design” behind some so called “axis” in iOS7 is nothing than plain white blinding screens, neon colors, gimmick parallax effect many keeping it disabled, text buttons and sketchy beginner art class drawn icons. Way to go from here for the great hardware designer but now becoming master of ieverything. Why need others when one can do all?