In general, I'd like to say how completely ignorant a large percentage of these post sound to me. This notion that Ives is the puppet master and is the sole-artist behind everything. If you read any of the interviews with him, you'll notice that said notion is totally BS. In fact, he goes out of his way to reinforce the idea that the ID team at Apple prides itself on collaboration. They don't even have assigned seating. It's all one big communal space and everyone works together to find the best solution for a given problem. Sure Ives is the face behind the end product, but he's only the spokesman, and the tie-breaker.
Second, most of you here sound like you know very little about the design process. It's not about simply changing the look of the UI, it's about how they function as well, the synthesis between concept and application...form follows function. Have any of you even thought about the notion that maybe the "Fresh Approach" we all keep hearing about by speculative bloggers will look at how the UI works globally over the entire OS, then to the App, and specifically each function...rather than just changing the look of everything and calling it a day? Have you thought that maybe the simple notion of re-thinking how each UI task functions will be the starting point rather than just what it looks like?
If anything, that's where I think Team Ives (as I like to call them) will start. Let's look at the previous over-all design concept for OSX and iOS. Analyze them, find their deficiencies, and come up with some solutions that help reinforce what made the original concept great, and continue unify them by a fresh new concept that backs up the original idea, but in a fresh new way. Then we can look at finding the best possible solution to how we interact with each individual function, find the commonalities to the over-all conceptual approach to the OS and apply it system-wide.
That's the difference between the Artist and the Engineer...The designer and the builder. However, the exceptional Artists are the ones who have a firm understanding and appreciation of the engineering. And like-wise the most gifted Engineers are the ones who have a tremendous eye for design. Sound familiar? "The intersection of the Liberal Arts and Technology".
Aesthetic is always going to be a subjective thing. Some people like one type of design, some the opposite...and some, a third option. IMO, what makes Apple's UI so successful are two things: Easy to use, and friendly. Even the original Macintosh, Jobs wanted the aesthetic to look like it was smiling, and look as easy to use as a food-processor. Those are the two core concepts that I think Apple's products have never wavered from. Like them or not the skeuomorphic designs give Apples products friendly association (albeit sometimes dated) and very clearly tell the customer what they do. In most cases, they are quite brilliant, and in specific cases, those skeuomorphic designs are also reflected in the actual UI as well. Contacts is an address book and the UI functions just like a book. Same with Calendars, iBooks. Maps has that lovely flipping of the map like a physical paper map to reveal additional functions, like a real map would to find an index or further explanation. However, as a side note, I'd like to say I'd rather it folded up a bit with some creases to reveal the additional functions to further draw the connection. Notes looks like an Office Depot generic yellow pad of paper. Why? Probably because the yellow is a bit easier on the eyes with such a bright display. The lines on the paper make it easier to read and makes it feel more like real life. The examples continue, and you probably get where i'm going. It's the synthesis between function and form and reinforcing the core concepts (easy and friendly) is what makes Apple's products so compelling.
For someone to say that Team Ives is just going to make everything a minimalist clean look is totally misunderstanding the concepts behind Apple's products and clearly thinking only skin-deep.