Former Apple TV Engineer Claims New Apple TV Interface Discarded 5 Years Ago [Updatedx2]

Macgasm notes an interesting tweet by former Apple TV engineer Michael Margolis who claims that the new Apple TV interface designs were "tossed out 5 years ago because [Steve Jobs] didn't like them."

apple tv 2012

Alongside the 3rd Generation iPad, Apple also introduced a new version of the Apple TV that supports 1080P video. With it came an updated interface for the set-top box, (shown above) with icon-based category buttons and large billboard-style artwork for content. The interface was also rolled out to previous 2nd Generation Apple TV owners in a software update.

Margolis goes on to say that "now there is nobody to say 'no' to bad design", referring to Steve Jobs' passing. Some MacRumors readers have complained about the new design, and others felt it was a paving the way for Apple TV apps in the future.

Five years ago (2007), when the design was reportedly "tossed out", Apple's product landscape was quite different. Both the Apple TV and iPhone were first introduced in January of that year, and the App Store would not be launched for another year in mid-2008.

Update: Margolis clarifies what he meant to TheNextWeb:

The new UI shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. There is a clear effort at Apple to make everything match the look and feel of their popular iOS products – starting with Lion and increasing momentum with Mountain Lion.

To be clear – he didn’t like the original grid. This was before the iPhone was popular and before the iPad even existed.

Given that the iPad is far more successful than the AppleTV, migrating the AppleTV to look more like the iPad was probably a very smart move – even if some of the users of the old UI don’t prefer the new one.

Update 2: TechCrunch posts a longer response from Margolis who seems to be downplaying his previous tweet:

Steve rejecting a design five years ago isn’t a huge deal. Steve was well known for rejecting ideas, tweaking them, and turning them into something even better. And that’s a very good thing. One of my favorite parts of working at Apple was knowing that SJ said “no” to most everything initially, even if he later came to like it, advocate for it, and eventually proudly present it on stage. This helped the company stay focused and drove people to constantly improve, iterate, and turn the proverbial knob to 11 on everything.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Caution)

Top Rated Comments

URFloorMatt Avatar
155 months ago
Apple has 60,000 employees, and Steve was the only person qualified to say "no" to bad design? Give me a break.
Score: 63 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zweigand Avatar
155 months ago
"now there is nobody to say 'no' to bad design"

Uh, yeah there is. They are called consumers.
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Big-TDI-Guy Avatar
155 months ago
I still miss the Tiger-Era Front Row interface. That was wonderful, still miss it today!
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Big-TDI-Guy Avatar
155 months ago
Apple has 60,000 employees, and Steve was the only person qualified to say "no" to bad design? Give me a break.
Steve did not run a democracy, his obsessive nature is what made Apple the company it is today. Just read all the confessions / biographic memos, he sounded like a scary individual.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dagamer34 Avatar
155 months ago
Only reason they went with this design is that it scales better with multiple apps than the old software ever did.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
admanimal Avatar
155 months ago
IMHO it's kind of annoying to have to scroll up and down/remember where stuff is. At least with the menu system I knew Netflix/radio/youtube were all "Internet" related things under the Internet menu.
With one quick scroll you can see every single content option on the device represented by big, colorful icons. I don't see how this makes it more difficult than the old software.


This looks like the end of Apple. Without Steve here there is no QA.
Right, because no one ever complained about the old Apple TV interface that Steve did approve. Not that we even know whether Steve saw and approved this design the second time around.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 17

iOS 17.4 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Monday February 19, 2024 6:52 am PST by
Apple last month confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released in March, and the update includes several new features and changes for the iPhone. Key new features in iOS 17.4 include major App Store changes in the EU and Apple Podcasts transcripts. The update also adds new emoji and includes preparations for the launch of next-generation CarPlay later this year. More details about the new...
apple wallet drivers license feature

Apple Said iPhone Driver's Licenses Will Expand to These 8 U.S. States

Monday February 12, 2024 7:51 am PST by
In 2021, Apple introduced a feature that lets residents of participating U.S. states add their driver's license or ID to the Wallet app on the iPhone and Apple Watch, providing a convenient and contactless way to display proof of identity or age. Unfortunately, states have been slow to adopt the feature since it was first announced in September 2021, with IDs in the Wallet app only available ...
samsung galaxy ring

'Apple Ring' Allegedly in Development to Rival Samsung Galaxy Ring

Tuesday February 20, 2024 2:27 am PST by
Apple is speeding up development of a smart ring that can be worn on the finger to track users' health biometrics, claims a new report coming out of Korea. Teaser image of Samsung Galaxy Ring shown at Galaxy Unpacked in January Apple has toyed with the idea of a ring wearable for several years, as indicated by several patents, but with Samsung preparing to bring its own product to market, the ...
New Macs iPads iOS 17 4

New Macs and iPads Coming Soon: What to Expect

Saturday February 17, 2024 3:00 am PST by
Following the launch of Apple's Vision Pro headset, attention has shifted towards what is next on the company's agenda this year. As usual, March should be eventful for Apple, as it is expected to release new MacBook Air, iPad Pro, and iPad Air models during the month. In a recent press release, Apple also confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released in March. Below, we recap what to expect...
Apple Watch Series 9

5 Major New Features Rumored for This Year's Apple Watch

Sunday February 18, 2024 3:00 am PST by
Thinking about upgrading your Apple Watch or buying one for the first time? If your current smartwatch is doing its job just fine and it's only the idea of a good deal that's piqued your interest, it could be worth holding out until later this year when Apple unveils its next-generation version. Here's why. There are already several rumors from reputable sources that suggest 2024 could be a...
m3 macbook pro 14 16

Apple Now Selling Refurbished M3 Pro and M3 Max MacBook Pro Models

Monday February 19, 2024 5:04 pm PST by
Apple today began offering refurbished versions of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with M3 Pro and M3 Max chip options, offering the machines at a discount for the first time since their October 2023 release. The release of M3 Pro and M3 Max models on Apple's refurbished store comes almost two weeks after the entry-level 14-inch M3 MacBook Pro first appeared on the store....