Bloomberg Businessweek recently had the rare opportunity to sit down with three of Apple's top executives: CEO Tim Cook, design chief Jony Ive, and software head Craig Federighi. We've already touched on some of Cook's comments, including his belief that Nokia was foiled by its inability to innovate. Now Bloomberg Businessweek has published its complete interview with Ive and Federighi, providing new behind-the-scenes insight into the creation of iOS 7 and last year's executive shakeup that saw the departure of former iOS boss Scott Forstall.
"I don't think we ever talked about our roles."
Reflecting on their new responsibilities, Ive insists Federighi is the one who's had to deal with the most change. "I think both Jony and I knew early on we wanted to do something big," Federighi says, revealing that the task of building iOS 7 brought Apple's industrial design and human interface teams closer than ever before. "These are teams that had a creative relationship going back a long time, but this became now a very intense relationship in the construction of iOS 7," he says. But Ive maintains the change wasn't drastic; the renowned designer and Federighi sit a mere minute apart at Apple's Cupertino headquarters. "I don’t think we ever talked about our roles. We talked about how we can most effectively extend the collaboration that always existed," Ive says.
Bringing parallax to iOS 7 proved to be a challenge
Ive also (briefly) addresses the initial reaction to iOS 7 that came following its unveiling at WWDC. "We didn’t stop working months ago, but it’s the beginning. You know, it’s the beginning of the story," he says. Ive and Federighi both seem especially proud of the parallax effects throughout Apple's mobile OS. "The idea of how we could create this sense of depth, that was just the most phenomenal collaboration which required everything from motion graphics to sensing in the hardware to the most remarkable sort of algorithms from a software point of view." Federighi says his team faced no shortage of challenges in making the home screen shift in a fluid manner. Ive agrees, saying, "the complexity behind these blurs that move — you have no idea."
Apple's design guru again trashes the competition for cramming feature upon feature into their respective phones, claiming that Apple spent months carefully developing what would become Touch ID. "When developing silicon, I think it’s probably the longest schedule that we work with. So you get to sense then if something as fundamental as that was architected into the process for the 5S, how long we have been working on this."
Apple is confident most people know how to use a smartphone
Interestingly, the executives confirm Apple's belief that most people are now well acquainted with using a smartphone. They say this allowed the company to take new liberties with iOS 7. "We saw some of the physical analogies in the existing user interface that were part of getting people comfortable working on glass, and we understood that people had gotten through that," Federighi says. The entire interview is worth a read, with both men speaking highly of Apple's obsession to detail and its design philosophy as a whole. They also reflect on what it's like to work under CEO Tim Cook. Says Federighi, "I think of Tim first and foremost as almost a beacon for Apple’s values."