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Core iOS creator said to be leaving Apple after row with Jonathan Ive

updated 04:04 pm EDT, Wed April 9, 2014

Could have significant impact on iOS 9 and beyond

Apple's Human Interface VP, Greg Christie, will soon leave the company following a conflict with design lead Jonathan Ive, sources say. Ive assumed control of both hardware and software interface design after iOS head Scott Forstall was forced out. Until this week, however, Christie was more directly responsible for Apple software design, and is credited not only with helping to invent the iOS interface -- including patented concepts like slide-to-unlock -- but influencing the direction of app design via his WWDC presentations.

Christie previously reported to another Apple executive, senior Software Engineering VP Craig Federighi, while Ive simply attended design meetings and offered his own instruction. When it came to iOS 7 though, Ive and Christie are said to fundamentally clashed over design principles, leading to Ive circumventing Christie's role. In Christie's absence, all software designers will allegedly answer directly to Ive. Both Apple PR and Christie have so far ignored media inquiries about the situation.

The departure of Christie, if confirmed, could potentially have radical effects on the future of iOS. Although most of the essentials of iOS 8 are likely being finalized, iOS 9 could go in a completely different direction, since Ive has unrestrained influence apart from other top-level executives like CEO Tim Cook.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Inkling

    Senior User

    Joined: 07-25-06

    Top people leaving angry after a conflict with other like to fear that they'll be next? Not good, particularly in a creative environment. Nothing crushes creativity like anger, conflict and fear.

  1. coffeetime

    Senior User

    Joined: 11-15-06

    Happened in my work place all the time. Sometimes we have multiple Senior Art Directors. At the end, it's all broiled down to who can work with each other last the longest. The piss-off ones, usually the fresh faces, leave. I strongly believe if Christie had learned to work with Ive for a little longer (I mean years) and I will guarantee he will earn the next crown after Ive.

  1. aSevie

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-01-01

    If he had anything to do with making the friggen buttons, fast forward, delete etc smaller on the already ridiculously small screen, then I say good riddance. My bet is is Ives though. Apple has lost the initiative, it seems that many parts of the interface are now designed for look not function.

  1. Steve Wilkinson

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 12-19-01

    This isn't good news, IMO, if this means Ive was mostly responsible for the iOS7 look. While I'm sure iOS7 brought a lot of good stuff under the hood, a lot of the UI changes are horrible. Calendar, WTF? And, as aSevie said, 'buttons' are often too small of targets, and often hard to tell what they do until you've learned the app. Often to learn an app, you have to 'experiment' sometimes losing data or taking an unintended action. It's kind of anti-UI in many ways. While Apple's UI is still pretty good in comparison to the competition, it certainly took a partial step backwards with iOS7. And the worst part is, many developers attempted to iOS7-ize their apps, which are now quite a mess. This stupid, flat look with all the meaningless symbols one has to guess at is poor UI, not good UI. If Christie was more 'old school' Apple, when they still cared about studying UI and making it good, then this is a big loss.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Yes, he presided over fake felt and faux leather. Old-school indeed.

    In other news, it turns out that there is no rift and no falling-out. He's just retiring, and he won't be leaving until late this year.

    If you're leaving over a fight, you're sure as hell gonna stick it out another nine months...

  1. Charles Martin

    MacNN Editor

    Joined: 08-04-01

    I have to point out that Christie was not directly responsible for EITHER the iOS 6 look or the iOS 7 look -- it was never his job, he was about making sure things interacted consistently. I don't know what his personal opinion on any design feature in either one was, but I do note that it was he at WWDC that was responsible for taking developers through the changes in iOS 7, and he certainly seemed enthusiastic about it at the time.

  1. Steve Wilkinson

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 12-19-01

    @ Spheric Harlot - While I wan't crazy about the look of the fake felt and leather interfaces, IMO, they were superior in actual UI principals. iOS7 might look cool to some, especially in comparison on retina displays, but it's a degraded UI experience. And, while it might not be fair to totally blame Apple for how 3rd parties then react, many of their attempts to mimic Apple's 'flat' design have resulted in some really horrible changes.

  1. Steve Wilkinson

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 12-19-01

    And, if there were something actually superior about 'flat' other than being the latest design trend just to satisfy the 'I need a look change every year to two' crowd... I'd be much more open to a bit of a struggle while things get refined again.

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