Rumor: Apple UI chief Greg Christie set to leave after clashes with Jony Ive [update: confirmed]

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 2015
Longtime Apple human interface director Greg Christie, who has been with the iPhone maker since 1996, is said to be planning an exit after his relationship with recently-elevated senior vice president of design Jony Ive allegedly turned sour.

Jonathan Ive
Apple SVP of Industrial Design Jony Ive.


Christie is currently responsible for software design across each of Apple's product lines and was a key member of the group that created the first-generation iPhone. He reports to Apple software chief Craig Federighi, rather than nominal design leader Jony Ive, who has until now chosen to eschew day-to-day management of the software design team in favor of providing high-level direction.

That is reportedly set to change, however, with Christie leaving the company and Ive assuming full control of the software group. Word of Christie's impending departure comes from 9to5Mac, who blames tension between Christie and Ive for the split.

The two began working more closely in 2012 after former iOS software head Scott Forstall was pushed out of the company. Notably, Forstall is also said to have had a rocky relationship with Ive, contributing to a downfall that was primarily caused by the disastrous rollout of Apple's in-house mapping initiative.

At the time, sources said that Ive and Christie had "very different styles." Christie is known to speak frankly, though design sessions were said to be "pleasant and cordial," unlike meetings in which Ive and Forstall refused to speak without an intermediary.

Christie's departure, if true, would come just weeks after Apple appeared to begin the process of elevating his profile outside the company. Christie gave an interview in late March, detailing the development of the original iPhone, in which he said that the handset's software vision came together in just two weeks following an ultimatum from late Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Update: Apple sent a statement to the Financial Times confirming Christie's departure, but failed to elaborate on the details.
Greg has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20 years at Apple. He has made vital contributions to Apple products across the board, and built a world-class Human Interface team which has worked closely with Jony for many years.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 122
    Tune in tomorrow for more drama.
  • Reply 2 of 122
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Perhaps Ive finally wants full control/ownership. I always thought it was odd that he had responsibility for Human Interface but the team reported to Federighi.
  • Reply 3 of 122
    peter236peter236 Posts: 254member
    The chief in industrial design has not released any dramatically new designs since iPhone 4. It is not surprising their market share is crumbling.
  • Reply 4 of 122
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member

    Cue the comments on how Ive will continue to ruin the Apple UI like he did with iOS 7....

     

    What? That's what the trolls on other sites are saying....

  • Reply 5 of 122
    appexappex Posts: 687member

    Apple is destroying the fantastic Mac interface with the awkward iOS interface. No labels, no scrollbars, no arrows on scroll bars, etc. Not to mention the hard to read fonts on iOS and the almost invisible slide to unlock. Functionality should be ABOVE the look or plain design, and not the other way round.

  • Reply 6 of 122
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    peter236 wrote: »
    The chief in industrial design has not released any dramatically new designs since iPhone 4. It is not surprising their market share is crumbling.
    You forgot /S
  • Reply 7 of 122
    netroxnetrox Posts: 703member
    Ive needs to be removed from software UI. I find iOS 7 more difficult to use. There's no ease of use there. Colors are nauseating. Icons are too vague.
  • Reply 8 of 122
    moreckmoreck Posts: 187member
    My only complaint with Ive's design is that all the white can be harsh on many users' eyes. I wish iOS offered the option for a true white-on-black UI, not that "inverted colors" business.
  • Reply 9 of 122
    ewtheckmanewtheckman Posts: 309member

    Microsoft and Apple are making the same basic mistake—following design fads at the expense of usability. Apple isn't sliding into the abyss quite as fast as MS (who managed to ship an OS with perfect security: no way to access anything), but that's cold comfort.

     

    Apple because became awesome because their team included psychologists who not only helped design the interface, they tested their theories before shipping them. I haven't heard of psychologists on Apple's design team for at least the last 15 years, and it's showing in the interface. (Gray on gray, hidden features—like scroll bars—that actually convey information, etc.)

  • Reply 10 of 122
    yojimbo007yojimbo007 Posts: 947member
    peter236 wrote: »
    The chief in industrial design has not released any dramatically new designs since iPhone 4. It is not surprising their market share is crumbling.

    Whats the new mac pro ?
    Whats the new imac?
  • Reply 11 of 122
    yojimbo007yojimbo007 Posts: 947member
    Ios 7 Is that Ives or Christie?

    Much more detail about disagreements needs to be known Before passing judgment !
  • Reply 12 of 122
    mutoneonmutoneon Posts: 51member
    this is concerning
  • Reply 13 of 122
    retrogustoretrogusto Posts: 703member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by netrox View Post



    Ive needs to be removed from software UI. I find iOS 7 more difficult to use. There's no ease of use there. Colors are nauseating. Icons are too vague.

    Yeah. But my biggest complaint is the way the white borders with controls seem to be there when I don't want them, and not there when I do. For example, if I'm looking at a photo in landscape mode, bars at the top and bottom of the screen obscure part of the picture, and I don't know how to make them disappear. You'd think they'd vanish after a few seconds, but they don't. At least not usually. On the other hand, if I'm looking at a web page, the bar at the bottom that includes the "back" and "close" buttons seems to appear and disappear with some logic that I still don't understand, so if I want to close the page or go back a page, I have to fidget with it at random until the navigation bar appears. I'm sure there's some logic to the way it works, but it's not intuitive. Also, the way the controls obscure the frame when you're taking a picture makes it hard to frame pictures well. I normally think of Apple as being at the forefront of usability, but this stuff is definitely a step backwards from iOS 6. This may be due to the fact that I'm using iOS 7 on a 4S, but it still shouldn't be that bad.

     

    That said, I was recently on vacation and borrowed a friend's old spare Samsung phone running Android from a few years ago, and was shocked at how unusable the thing was. Friends sometimes tease me for being pre-Apple, but I still can't believe how much worse it was than my already low expectations.

  • Reply 14 of 122
    lorin schultzlorin schultz Posts: 2,582member

    Is it possible that Jony is no good at software and/or UI?

  • Reply 15 of 122
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

    Tune in tomorrow for more drama.

     


    Or tune in tomorrow to find out it's not true.
  • Reply 16 of 122
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

    Tune in tomorrow for more drama.

     


    Or tune in tomorrow to find out it's not true.
  • Reply 17 of 122
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Originally Posted by peter236 View Post

    The chief in industrial design has not released any dramatically new designs since iPhone 4. It is not surprising their market share is crumbling.

     

    Enjoying those lies, are you?

  • Reply 18 of 122
    ewtheckmanewtheckman Posts: 309member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Retrogusto View Post

     

    Yeah. But my biggest complaint is the way the white borders with controls seem to be there when I don't want them, and not there when I do. For example, if I'm looking at a photo in landscape mode, bars at the top and bottom of the screen obscure part of the picture, and I don't know how to make them disappear. You'd think they'd vanish after a few seconds, but they don't. At least not usually. On the other hand, if I'm looking at a web page, the bar at the bottom that includes the "back" and "close" buttons seems to appear and disappear with some logic that I still don't understand, so if I want to close the page or go back a page, I have to fidget with it at random until the navigation bar appears.


     

    Normally a simple tap will make the bars appear and disappear around a photo. Your 4S may just be slow enough that you've already tapped again by the time it responds to the first tap.

     

    In Safari the address bar at the top disappears when you scroll down. The idea is to make more room for the content. It's supposed to reappear as soon as you scroll up.

  • Reply 19 of 122
    igrouchoigroucho Posts: 59member

    An organisation with such dynamic and creative environment and competition primadonnas are bound to thrive. A Steve Jobs type  is needed to check those individuals. Hope Cook is up to bring peace and cooperative spirit.

  • Reply 20 of 122
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,590member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Lorin Schultz View Post

     

    Is it possible that Jony is no good at software and/or UI?


    Yes, but then again, no, depending on where you stand. But Software is different from U/I and there is no real requirement for JI to be a software expert. The same applies to visual design and user interface, though there must be more of an overlap. User Interface has more to do with the interaction between the user and the software than the 'look'. I don't know how much JI is involved in any of those areas, and ditto Greg Christie, though I am sure that as head of U/I you'd have plenty to say about visual design choices and vice versa. 

     

    Just checked and see that JI in fact " ... provides leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) software teams across the company." 

     

    I think you could argue that IOS7 is not a perfect product by a long shot but an update was so overdue its H/I shortcomings are forgivable. IOS used so many design cues and conventions from OSX that were honed over a very long period. My guess is that future iterations of IOS will improve the user experience a great deal.

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