“Ive also seems to have played an important role in pushing Apple to embrace biometric user authentication for its iPhone devices.”
Jony Ive, one of the most influential designers in the mobile industry, has formally cut ties with Apple. Having served as a contractor since he departed the company in early 2019, Ive has decided not to renew his term with the tech giant, a decision with which Apple seems to have concurred, suggests a New York Times report.
Having joined Apple in 1992, Ive led the team that designed the iconic iMac computer, which won huge success in the commercial market. That earned him a position as Steve Jobs’ right-hand man, with Jobs having told biographer Walter Isaacson that Ive “has more operational power than anyone at Apple, except me.” From the iMac project Ive went on to oversee the design of Apple’s white Airpod earbuds.
Ive also seems to have played an important role in pushing Apple to embrace biometric user authentication for its iPhone devices. In 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that Ive had for years been pushing for the iPhone to “appear like a single sheet of glass,” a design approach that would require Apple to minimize the bevel outline of the smartphone that featured the Home button with its embedded fingerprint sensor.
The following year would see the launch of the iPhone X with its Face ID authentication feature, a trailblazing 3D facial recognition system that would catalyze a wave of copycat ‘face unlock’ systems in rival devices and help to make selfie-based authentication one of the hottest trends in mobile technology today. In an interview with Brutus Casa, Ive explained that Face ID represented an important evolution in the user interface, and the product of a longstanding design vision on his part.
Just a couple of years later, Ive would leave Apple to launch his own design firm, LoveFrom. The Times reports that his departure was motivated in part by disappointment in CEO Tim Cook’s focus on operations and software rather than product design; nevertheless, Apple would become LoveFrom’s biggest customer, and Ive said in 2019 that he looked forward to continuing working with Apple “for many years to come” via his design company.
Now, that relationship has come to an end. For Ive, the ongoing contract work with Apple had restricted LiveFrom from pursuing projects that Apple perceived as competitive. At the same time, some Apple executives had become frustrated with LiveFrom’s costs and its poaching of Apple designers, according to the Times.
While Apple will no longer be doing business with one of its most influential former designers, it still maintains its own design teams. Industrial design is headed by Evans Hankey, and Alan Dye leads Apple’s software design. Its product marketing team will also reportedly play an important role in product design going forward, with that unit headed by Greg Joswiak.