Late last October, iOS VP Scott Forstall left Apple and Jony Ive assumed the role of human interface manager across the entire company — including iOS, which some feel is in major need of a design refresh. Now, several months after that executive shake-up, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple's software and hardware design teams have indeed gotten closer and are collaborating in ways that mark a pretty major change at a company well-known for having internal secrets. According to the WSJ, Greg Christie, who formerly worked under Forstall, has been leading the iOS human interface team — but that team is being kept more in the loop on what the industrial design team (still led by Ive) is doing. Given Ive's role as overseer of all HI across the company, he's now sitting in on meetings with Christie's team and it seems that the two groups are sharing more of their work as a result.
While details about Ive's influence on the next version of iOS are minimal, the WSJ's source does say that he's pushing a more modern, "flat" design (an aesthetic that sounds similar to where Google has moved recently) — but overall, changes will be fairly conservative. That may come as a disappointment hoping for more radical changes, but it seems that Ive and Apple aren't willing to alienate iOS users who have become familiar with the software over the past six years. Despite the lack of major changes so far, the new working arrangement is exactly what CEO Tim Cook had in mind when he dismissed Forstall last year.
There are also some new details on how the newly-united Mac OS and iOS software teams are working under senior VP Craig Federighi — so far, changes have come slowly. While there's a lot of overlap between the two groups, Federighi has decided to keep the engineering teams separate, for now. However, the team expects further organization changes this summer, at which point Federighi could pull the groups closer, a move that the WSJ says a number of employees have speculated about. While it's still too early to see the results of Cook's big fall re-org, it sounds like we're seeing the first effects of the new Apple CEO's biggest changes to the company since he took over a year and a half ago.