Bloomberg: Apple’s design guru Jony Ive ‘methodically reviewing’ iOS 7 overhaul

Jonathan Ive (headshot and title)

It’s been six months since Tim Cook reshuffled Apple’s leadership team, firing iOS architect Scott Forstall over his abrasive management style and unwillingness to collaborate with other members of the executive team, namely Apple’s industrial design guru, the 46-year-old Jonathan Ive.

As a result of the shake-up, Ive has assumed much broader responsibilities that now encompass all of Apple’s design, both the look and feel of its hardware and software.

Apple’s press release stated that America’s most influential Briton “will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company” and today Bloomberg sheds more light on the difficulties Ive faces in the massively challenging overhaul of iOS 7, Apple’s mobile operating system powering iPhones, iPads and iPods…

Adam Satariano, reporting for Bloomberg:

Ive, 46, has begun revamping iPhone and iPad applications, shunning realistic images, such as wood bookshelves for the Newsstand feature, and he’s exploring more dramatic changes to the e-mail and calendar tools, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private.

The designer’s broader responsibilities were on display back in March when he led a more than two-hour town-hall meeting at the De Anza 3 auditorium in Cupertino.

According to two people familiar with the gathering, Apple’s boss Tim Cook reportedly sat listening as Ive spoke “at length about the shifts under way.” The designer is also said to be attending meetings with Apple’s software people headed by Greg Christie “to offer feedback.” 

He has listened respectfully in those sessions and has been careful not to try to force through his ideas, this person said. He also is giving them an earlier look at what future hardware products will look like, one person said.

The changes in iOS 7 obviously include a flatter user interface appearance:

On top of that, Ive is moving the company away from layered and literal – or skeuomorphic – design elements, toward ones that are intended to give the software a flatter design that’s more unified and less cluttered, according to people familiar with the changes.

Bigger shifts, to such features as e-mail, may not even be ready this year and may be introduced in future releases, people said.

Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac reported earlier this week that the new user interface in iOS 7 is “very, very flat,” losing all signs of gloss, shine and, yes, skeumorphism. According to one of Gurman’s sources, iOS 7 has a “level of flatness approaching recent releases of Microsoft’s Windows Phone ‘Metro’ UI.”

Ive, who “rarely interacted” with former iOS boss Scott Forstall, has reportedly taken interest in gesture technologies and has apparently “met with makers of gesture technology” as he’s interested in “altering how people control their computers.”

Bloomberg notes that even though engineers are “racing” to finish iOS 7 in time for a June preview at WWDC 2013, no release date has been set yet.

Apple is apparently shooting for a September release of iOS 7, but it could get pushed back as “internal deadlines for submitting features for testing are being set later than past releases.”

While Jobs would force through ideas that he wanted the company to prioritize, Cook has emphasized collaboration. The internal debates are leading to a more deliberate approach for product and marketing decisions, according to a person at a company that does business with Apple.

Are you looking forward to the Ive-ification of iOS 7?