Where does the Apple minimalist (zen) design theme go from here?

Posted:
in Future Apple Hardware edited January 2014
Where does the Apple minimalist zen-like Jony Ive design theme go from here? When you have reduced the physical dimensions of a device to basically the limits of the screen, where else can you go in it's physical design but become thinner and at some point that becomes irrelevant for most people. Is it possible that the current design theme might be reaching it's inherent limitations of visible progress? Larger Retina Displays? Thinner LiquidMetal Outer Casings?

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    Let me begin by saying that I am somewhat annoyed by questions about Appe's future this or that. The thing that we love about Apple is its complete breaks with the past. This is epitomized by the original iPhone which turned out to be absolutely nothing like anyone expected. By definition, you cannot predict the unexpected.



    That said, it is inconceivable to me that Apple will adopt the gee-gaw philosophy of product design within the lifetimes of anyone on this forum. After reading this Bloomberg BusinessWeek article on Apple's supply chain, I could think of only two words--transparent aluminum.
  • Reply 2 of 10
    Translucent or transparent aluminum sounds cool if done properly.
  • Reply 3 of 10
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,209moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Commodification View Post


    Translucent or transparent aluminum sounds cool if done properly.



    I get images of those plastic PC cases that enthusiasts buy and I don't think seeing the inside of a computer is a nice design. The idea of perforating the case to allow light to pass through was good but the process of making metal fully transparent is probably not feasible nor worthwhile for Apple.



    I'd say the next incremental step would be to move away from backlit screens to OLED once they can get the desired colour reproduction. Displays can become very thin to the point that they could have a Macbook Air with both sides of the screen having an OLED panel and when it's shut, it behaves like an iPad and the tapering tilts the display towards you. This way you don't have to do the whole swivelling display mechanism or detachable screen and the back can display an animated Apple logo when open or whatever, no need to add a single unchanging decal.



    For it to be capacitive touch with a glass panel, it would need some strengthening but it would help bring in the convergence of iOS and Mac OS. I'd expect it to run on Intel x86 but there would be some benefits to ARM, possibly both together.



    But I would say that it will be difficult to innovate beyond the black rectangle as that's about as minimal as you can go short of having special glasses. You could for example have no screen at all and have an augmented reality pair of clear glasses that track a surface like a desk. It would then composite data onto it on both lenses in front of the eyes but composite your hands on top. This way they could turn a hand into a phone, a desk into a computer or a wall into a 60" TV without changing the device form factor. They could even have virtual panels floating in front of you and reverse your tracking movements so you could seem to walk around it, which is great for 3D objects. They already do this kind of thing with phones and things but the physical device limits the scale.



    I'd expect the controller to be just a black box and it doesn't even need to transmit power wirelessly. There could be small Li-Ion batteries like large watch batteries that connect onto the glasses and when they run out, just switch them over with another set on the black box and they keep swapping charge. The ideal would be for battery technology to improve dramatically of course with 1000x energy density increase but this may come in time.



    When we get to this point, software is going to play a much more important role than hardware and even operating systems. In many ways their job is to get out the way and allow you to focus on apps. There's still a good decade left in hardware before this happens but it'll be interesting to see where it ultimately ends up.
  • Reply 4 of 10
    mr. memr. me Posts: 3,219member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    ... The idea of perforating the case to allow light to pass through was good but the process of making metal fully transparent is probably not feasible nor worthwhile for Apple.



    ...



    FWIW, I was being quasi-facetious about transparent aluminum. The flip-side is that I am three-quarters serious. Knowing that Jonny Ive conceived of a hole that is so small that it can barely be seen by the naked eye while allowing a green LED to shine through set my mind reeling. Why limit the display to a single hole? If Apple can perforate metal at 300 hole/inch, and back each whole with micro-LEDs, then the brittle glass screen can be a thing of the past. When powered-on, the perforated metal plate turn into a retina display as if by magic.



    Not to comment specifically on this idea, but Bloomberg BusinessWeek makes it very clear that stuff like this is very much worthwhile for Apple. Apple uses its oceans of cash to develop these marvelous technologies and then corners the market on everything required to bring them to market. As a result, Apple can sell products like the iPad and MacBook Air at retail prices sometimes below the competition's costs while providing 30-40% margins for itself.
  • Reply 5 of 10
    It would seem the final goal of the Zen design theme is for it to eventually become as close to 'nothing' as physically possible. As Apple products get smaller and lighter, so does my wallet.
  • Reply 6 of 10
    kalikali Posts: 634member
    The next Apple design will be this : a small chip that you wear under your arm's skin. The graphical interface will be directly projected on your retina, and the source of energy will be your body's heat...
  • Reply 7 of 10
    mactacmactac Posts: 315member
    Maybe after the minimalist kick, Apple's next big thing is big. How about a taller mini with room for an optical drive along with 2 hard drives? Maybe even a mid sized mid range Mac? Cases large enough so they are easy to open? Cases big enough to have some ports on the front?



    Right now only the Mac Pro case is designed with common sense as a lead element.
  • Reply 8 of 10
    Back in 2000 Steve Jobs stated the lifetime of OS-X was around 20 years, so I'm guessing that Macs (regardless of configuration) will be replaced with a future variation of combining iOS-iCloud over the next decade (if not sooner). I don't think the lights will be totally turned off on Mac until low cost 5G cellular networks are ubiquitous and those should be implemented before 2020. In my opinion the Mac platform is going to suffer from a slow and methodical death over this decade.
  • Reply 9 of 10
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Kali View Post


    The next Apple design will be this : a small chip that you wear under your arm's skin. The graphical interface will be directly projected on your retina, and the source of energy will be your body's heat...



    Sounds like new meaning for the phrase "retina display"...
  • Reply 10 of 10
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post


    Sounds like new meaning for the phrase "retina display"...



    Futurama already made that joke with the "eye phone".
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