Looking at how Apple’s designers evolve a product is something we’ve not seen before in this detail.
There has always been a mystery around Apple and it’s products and not matter how much that has slipped in recent years, knowing what they are up to and how they are thinking eludes the best of us.
The current court case between Apple and Samsung is currently raging on, with some fairly damming info coming out about Samsung’s practices. But the most important thing that has come out for me thus far though, has to be the design documents from Apple.
The information that has been released is like looking in to the mind of a company. Steve Job’s gift to the world wasn’t one product, it was the company. So to be able to see how it forms its ideas and develops products is vastly important for anyone wanting to emulate that success.
As a designer, the information that is being brought to the public is rather familiar. It all starts with an idea. The concept is then feverishly sketched and developed. If it makes the cut, it get’s worked up digitally. Challenges and issues hold back other ideas as much as they drive others forwards. Then comes the prototype. Does it work? could it work? could it be better?
This cycle adds so much value in to what is eventually delivered. More than the sum of its parts.
What I find interesting is the difference between the process for the iPad and the process for the iPhone.
The first iPad prototypes were first going round Apple at the top levels almost ten years ago and in the trouble development – Jobs canceled the product 3 times – it reflected Apple’s products of the time and wasn’t all too radical. It first looked like an iBook in one piece and then latter evolved to match the metal MacBooks that followed the iBook. In fact, there was only one that I’ve seen had something really diffident to it.
The ‘Tray’ design. With the ledges for easing grip was really interesting to me as it speaks to a more utilitarian device. It’s fascinating to think that this design got all the way to a physical prototype.
With the iPad being a fairly linear process, the iPhone seemed to have a more varied inception. From the sketches and sheer amount of designs that were worked up, you can tell that there was a real passion to create a device that would reinvent an entire category.
Some concepts stayed with the designs as they progressed: Tapered edges, the large screen, the home button.
All of these would come in to variations of the device and in its later iterations.
There’s a lot more images from the trial that can be found on these great sites ( 9to5 mac – The Verge ) and I’d recommend anyone who is interest in design to take a look and see where the most important shift in personal communication in 20 years came from.
There is however one more thing. After receiving his knighthood, Sir Ive was interviewed by the Telegraph and asked if he was remembered for one Apple product, what would it be. His answer was:
“It’s a really tough one. A lot does seem to come back to the fact that what we’re working on now feels like the most important and the best work we’ve done, and so it would be what we’re working on right now, which of course I can’t tell you about.”
What we’re working on now – Given that the iPhone and iPad came to life some 8 – 10 years before they came in to the wide world, that gives me shivers to think what they could be coming up with! The future should be rather interesting.