Jony Ive Details Apple Design Process, iPhone 6 Design Choices in New Interview

jony_iveApple's head of design Jony Ive today gave a live interview at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco. In the interview, which BusinessInsider attended, Ive gave some rare insight into the design process at Apple and some of the design choices the team made with the iPhone 6.

According to Ive, he has a great design team that's quite small, numbering 16 or 17 employees. During a typical day, Ive says that designers gather around tables like those in the Apple Store to draw. The team meets three or four times a week.

One of the major advantages of being part of a design team that's been together so long is that it's given them time to develop a design process. Ideas, Ive says, don't really come along until the design team has created a physical object from their drawings. "It really galvanizes and focuses our team," said Ive.

When asked whether or not he had experienced a "eureka moment" in a design meeting, Ive pointed towards the iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus, saying that there's a "special moment" when there's an object you can touch. He says he's surprised and thrilled every time he gets to see a new first model.

On the iPhone 6's rounded edges, Ive says that Apple opted to go back to rounded edges because they were necessary to make the device feel less wide. Apple made bigger-screened prototypes years before, but they were "clunky."

Ive also shared details on Steve Jobs, saying that Jobs was "the most remarkably focused person" he'd ever met in his life. "You can achieve so much when you truly focus," Ive said. "What focus means is saying no to something that with every bone in your body you think is a phenomenal idea. And you wake up thinking about it, but you say no to it because you're focusing on something else."


During audience questions, Ive gave some interesting thoughts on Xiaomi, the Chinese manufacturer that closely copies Apple's designs. Ive says what Xiaomi is doing is theft, not flattery.

There is a danger...I don't see it as flattery. I see it as theft. (Talking about copying designs in general). When you're doing something for the first time and you don't know it's going to work. I have to be honest the last thing I think is "Oh, that is flattering. All those weekends I could've been home with my family...I think it's theft and lazy. I don't think it's OK at all."

The full paraphrased text of Ive's interview, where he also shares why he chose to be an industrial designer, what he thought was well designed as a kid, how he came to work at Apple, and his thoughts on Steve Jobs, can be found over at BusinessInsider. Both TechCrunch and The Verge have shared details on the interview as well.

Top Rated Comments

vigorblade Avatar
89 months ago
He still works weekends ??

That one comment where he mentions missing weekends with his family to help produce these products really made me stop for a second. When we see super successful people and people who make enormous amounts of money, we tend to not consider their ongoing sacrifices. We see someone like Ives and we often just assume that at his level, there is no longer a need for continuous late nights and weekends working.

You just figure that they work a few hours a day and then go home to take a dip in vault of money or whatever really rich people do (Think Uncle Scrooge of Duck Tales). You know for sure they don't work weekends. The fact is when you get to the top, sometimes you have to work harder than ever before to maintain that status. I actually really admire those who continue to be driven, even at the top and don't just become totally dependent on the hard work of the young talent around them to get things done, then show up for the award ceremonies.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
benkirton Avatar
89 months ago
Bragging about design with a protruding lens, hideous antenna lines and the bending factor? Mhm.

Do you know what the trade-offs were for those? What would an attractive (to you) antenna design have meant for signal strength, device width, battery life etc?

What about the 2000 other design decisions that were made that you do like or don't notice?

It's a bit like the old "Messages doesn't order my message correctly on my iPhone so I'm moving to Android" argument. One compromised design piece does not a bad complete product make.
Score: 30 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dilster3k Avatar
89 months ago
Bragging about design with a protruding lens, hideous antenna lines and the bending factor? Mhm.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DoctorKrabs Avatar
89 months ago
Bragging about design with a protruding lens, hideous antenna lines and the bending factor? Mhm.

Enough.

The iPhone 6 is 6.9mm thin, and the thinnest smartphone camera module ever made, without a lens, is 5.5mm thin.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Lennholm Avatar
89 months ago
When asked whether or not he had experienced a "eureka moment" in a design meeting, Ive pointed towards the iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus
Reading between the lines: "That's when I realized that all the Android people were right all along".

Gotta say, I find Ive's uncharacteristic public enthusiasm for the iPhone 6(+) and Apple Watch designs, some of his least impressive designs imo, a bit troubling.

Sheesh … it looks fine. My guess is he would say it was necessary, and every consideration was made to avoid it, but a lens system needs some depth to have good optics. I'd rather have a protruding lens than a thicker device overall. Slap a nice case on it and it's all good-n-flush.
I'd rather have a thicker, non-wobbly device with a bigger battery. Are you really saying the iPhone 5S wasn't thin enough?
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
d4rkc4sm Avatar
89 months ago
someone should ask him directly if he likes the protruding lens.

if he says yes, then he is a liar and a poser
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

REC ASA CODE2016 20160601 205816 2745

Elon Musk Reportedly Demanded to Become Apple CEO as Part of Potential Tesla Acquisition [Update: Musk Denies]

Friday July 30, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Tesla CEO Elon Musk reportedly once demanded that he be made Apple CEO in a brief discussion of a potential acquisition with Apple's current CEO, Tim Cook. The claim comes in a new book titled "Power Play: Tesla, Elon Musk and the Bet of the Century," as reviewed by The Los Angeles Times. According to the book, during a 2016 phone call between Musk and Cook that touched on the possibility of ...
General Apps Messages

Android iMessage Competitor Puts Pressure on Apple

Friday July 30, 2021 3:15 am PDT by
Google and the three major U.S. carriers, including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, will all support a new communications protocol on Android smartphones starting in 2022, a move that puts pressure on Apple to adopt a new cross-platform messaging standard and may present a challenge to iMessage. Verizon recently announced that it is planning to adopt Messages by Google as its default messaging...
iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 13 to Bring Over a Major Feature From the Apple Watch

Wednesday July 28, 2021 2:21 am PDT by
Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 lineup will feature an always-on display akin to the Apple Watch Series 5 and Series 6, according to recent reports. In his weekly Power On newsletter, Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman, who often reveals accurate insights into Apple's plans, said that the iPhone 13 may feature an Apple Watch-inspired always-on mode. The Apple Watch Series 5 and Apple Watch...
duracell battery bitter coating

Apple Says Don't Buy AirTag Replacement Batteries With Bitter Coating

Wednesday July 28, 2021 11:08 am PDT by
Since AirTags were just released earlier this year and are expected to have a year-long battery life, it may be some time yet before AirTag users need a replacement battery, but when the time comes for a refresh, Apple is warning customers not to buy batteries with a bitter coating. AirTags use coin-shaped CR2032 batteries, which happen to be a size that's easy to swallow. Some battery...
a15 chip

iPhone 13 and Redesigned MacBook Pro Chip Production Hit With Gas Contamination

Friday July 30, 2021 5:44 am PDT by
The most important TSMC factory that manufactures Apple's chips destined for next-generation iPhone and Mac models has been hit by a gas contamination, according to Nikkei Asia. The factory, known as "Fab 18," is TSMC's most advanced chipmaking facility. TSMC is Apple's sole chip supplier, making all of the processors used in every Apple device with a custom silicon chip. Industry...
apple rtp land

Apple Preparing to Occupy 200,000 Square Feet of Temporary Space Ahead of New $1 Billion North Carolina Campus

Thursday July 29, 2021 9:14 am PDT by
Back in April, Apple announced a $430 billion investment over the next five years to create more than 20,000 new jobs as the company continues to expand. One significant piece of that plan is a new engineering and research center in North Carolina where Apple will be investing over $1 billion and hiring at least 3,000 employees. Assemblage of seven properties in Research Triangle Park owned by ...
Apple Leak Feature

Apple Demands Leaker Reveals Sources Under Threat of Being Reported to Police

Wednesday July 28, 2021 6:53 am PDT by
Apple has sent a cease and desist letter to a leaker based in China as part of its continuing attempts to curtail leaks of unreleased products, according to Vice. A Chinese citizen who shared images of stolen Apple prototypes on social media was sent a warning letter from Fangda Partners, Apple's law firm in China, on June 18, 2021. An extract from the letter read:You have disclosed without ...
macos monterey tidbits feature copy

Apple Releases New macOS 12 Monterey Public Beta

Wednesday July 28, 2021 10:19 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the third public beta of the macOS 12 Monterey beta to public beta testers, allowing non-developers to test the new macOS Monterey software ahead of its public release. The third beta comes two weeks after Apple released the second macOS Monterey public beta. Public beta testers can download the macOS 12 Monterey update from the Software Update section of the System...
iOS 15 General Feature Purple

Apple Releases New Public Betas of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, and tvOS 15

Wednesday July 28, 2021 10:16 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the third betas of iOS and iPadOS 15 to public beta testers, allowing non-developers to download and test the new updates ahead of their fall release. The third public betas come two weeks after Apple released the second public betas. Public beta testers who have signed up for Apple's beta testing program can download the iOS and iPadOS 15 updates over the air after...
nothing ear 1 buds 1

Nothing 'Ear (1)' True Wireless Earbuds Launch to Take on AirPods Pro With ANC and Unusual Design for $99

Tuesday July 27, 2021 7:57 am PDT by
Nothing, a new brand from OnePlus founder Carl Pei, has today officially launched the "Ear (1)" true wireless earbuds after months of anticipation around the company's AirPods Pro rival. The Ear (1) features an in-ear design, Active Noise Cancelation, Bluetooth 5.2, IPX4 water resistance, and a charging case with Qi-compatible wireless charging and a USB-C port. Fast pairing is supported on...