How Apple’s Jony Ive changed the face of tech

Jony Ive is leaving Apple after more than 20 years of designing some the company’s most innovative products including the iPhone, iPod and Mac.

Here, Sky News looks back on his career as the company’s chief design officer and how he changed the face of tech as we know it today, from the iPod’s signature click wheel to the glass iPhone screen.


The Briton joined Apple in 1992 and at first he was so unhappy he repeatedly considered quitting.

Then, in 1997, Steve Jobs returned to the firm he’d founded and promoted Ive to senior vice president of industrial design.

Image: Ive developed the iMac with Steve Jobs

The iMac was the first product they created together – working, Ive later said, so that “what our eyes physically saw and what we came to perceive were exactly the same”.

And, although it may not seem like it now, at the time its look and feel (those transparent candy-coloured shells) were revolutionary. Apple was back.


Ive only played a small part in the design of the device that put “1,000 songs in your pocket” and started the reinvention of the music industry.

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The technology for the iPod was bought in from other firms, so Ive had to work with what he was given, a design role he hated.

Image: Ive added the signature click wheel to the iPod and made the product white

Nonetheless, his input was crucial. He added the signature click wheel, making the iPod easy for anyone to use, and made the product white, starting a second major tech design trend, and launching an armada of copycat products.


The device that changed the world was going to have a plastic screen, until Ive came up with an alternative. The result was the silky-smooth pane of glass which now covers every smartphone in the world. To us, today, it might seem inevitable.

Image: Steve Jobs holds up the iPhone that was introduced at Macworld in 2007

At the time, the idea of putting a big piece of glass in a consumer product, one which would be carried around in people’s products, was revolutionary. Of course, there was a downside, as anyone who’s cracked a phone screen will know.

But that’s classic Ive too: he designs for perfection, even if that means the result is sometimes less than totally practical.

Jony Ive (L) and Apple CEO Tim Cook inspect the new iPhone XR in 2018
Image: Ive (L) and Apple chief executive Tim Cook inspect the iPhone XR in 2018


“It’s hard to see how something so simple, so thin and so light could possibly be so capable,” Ive said in his video introduction to this product in 2010, words which summed up his design philosophy.

At the very peak of his powers, he was radically simplifying (and squeezing) everything Apple did, removing buttons and (later) eliminating headphone jacks.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs speaks during an Apple Special Event January 27, 2010 at Yerba Buena Center For The Arts in San Francisco, California. Steve Jobs announced the highly anticipated....
Image: Apple introduced the iPad in 2010

Two years later, put in charge of design across Apple’s teams, he extended this approach to software, updating the iPad and iPhone to remove old-fashioned “paper” and “leather” icons.

As he said in that video: “Millions upon millions of people are going… to know how to use this.” And he was absolutely right.

Apple Watch

The first product Ive put to market after Jobs’ death was met with a mixed response. Users complained about its cluttered interface and lack of an obvious purpose.

Over time, it found its niche as a health and fitness product, and today it’s the bestselling watch in the world – yet it’s fair to say this is still a work in progress.

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. Apple is expected to unveil the new iPhone 6.
Image: Apple chief executive Tim Cook announcing the Apple Watch in 2014

Perhaps Ive can perfect it at his new consultancy, where he’s promised to continue working on wearable technology and healthcare.


The evolution of these laptops tells the story of Ive’s time at Apple.

At first boxed in shiny white plastic, in the late 2000s they were remade out of slabs of brushed grey metal (to the delight of many Americans, who loved hearing Ive say “aluminium” when he provided the voiceover for Apple adverts).

People gather around a MacBook Pro that is displayed at the 2012 Apple WWDC keynote address
Image: People gather around a MacBook Pro that is displayed at the 2012 Apple WWDC keynote address

More recent changes, however, have made the device a source of frustration rather than pleasure, with the keys on its “butterfly keyboard” sticking and refusing to respond when pressed.

Was this Ive losing his touch, as he pushed engineering too far to satisfy his obsession with thinness? No-one is entirely sure, but his time at Apple ended with some mixed emotions.

Source: SKY NEWS

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