Apple's Phil Schiller & John Ternus talk design, secrecy & 'spaceship' Campus 2

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2015
In a rare interview, Apple marketing head Phil Schiller and VP of Mac and iPad engineering John Ternus discussed subjects like the intense collaboration behind products like the MacBook, why Apple refuses to name most suppliers, and the flow philosophy behind the company's upcoming "spaceship" campus.

Image Credit: Mashable
Image Credit: Mashable


One of the lesser-known inventions in the 12-inch Retina MacBook is the "speaktenna," which attaches the wireless antenna to the outside of the speaker module, Ternus explained to Mashable in the interview published Wednesday. The company realized that it couldn't do separate antenna and speaker systems well in such an ultra-compact machine, since both components need space to resonate.

Instead the company had the antenna and speaker teams collaborate and learn from each other, Ternus noted. Schiller added that this reflects the reorganization Steve Jobs and designer Jony Ive put in place when Jobs returned as CEO in 1997, joining the engineering and industrial design teams "at the hip." The groups "think up solutions to problems together as the disciplines are merged into a seamless process," Schiller said.

On the matter of Apple refusing to talk about suppliers, the executive commented that it's partly because the company sometimes uses multiple suppliers for a single part, and doesn't want to explain differences.

In other cases, it doesn't want to announce when it switches to a new firm. A major reason is that suppliers are often asked to create custom hardware for Apple.

"The most common scenario is simply that what we got from a supplier basically has been created so uniquely for Apple that implying it's an off-the-shelf part like others may get would be really misleading," Schiller said.

Asked about whether not the shape of Campus 2 might not impede the kind of collaboration seen on the MacBook -- namely if one team was on an opposite side of the ring from another -- Schiller suggested that the situation was "quite the opposite."

"Everything" about the new complex is designed to spur collaboration, he suggested. The internal and external surfaces of the structure are hallways, and the open area in the middle is designed to push people to travel through it via pathways, even running trails. There are also said to be "large, open spaces" between interior seating areas, with the idea of encouraging work in communal areas.

Schiller separately took a swipe at hybrid PCs like Microsoft's Surface Book and Surface Pro 4, which can serve as both tablets and conventional laptops.

"There certainly are more offerings today, more people trying to create a market, but based on all the data that I've been able to see, it is still incredibly small and niche and may not be growing to anything significant," he said. "Time will tell."

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Hmm...this is the second interview in the span of a few weeks with this hardware VP John Ternus. I don't think the people Apple chooses to put in front of the media is by accident. I think it's also interesting that in both of these behind the scenes interviews Dan Riccio (SVP of hardware) is nowhere to be found. He also wasn't featured in any of the product intro videos, those were all narrated by Jony Ive. This kind of stuff always intrigues me as we know Apple doesn't let just any employee speak with the media.
  • Reply 2 of 18
    feynmanfeynman Posts: 1,087member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    Hmm...this is the second interview in the span of a few weeks with this hardware VP John Ternus. I don't think the people Apple chooses to put in front of the media is by accident. I think it's also interesting that in both of these behind the scenes interviews Dan Riccio (SVP of hardware) is nowhere to be found. He also wasn't featured in any of the product intro videos, those were all narrated by Jony Ive. This kind of stuff always intrigues me as we know Apple doesn't let just any employee speak with the media.



    Good observation.  

  • Reply 3 of 18
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Btw, John Ternus is one of the inventors listed on the iPad Smart Cover patents along with Jony Ive and others.
  • Reply 4 of 18
    ksecksec Posts: 1,494member
    I think and I hope the antenna design is what's coming for iPhone 7... no more ugly stupid band. That alone would be worth the upgrade for me.
    ( And if we could get rid of the Qualcomm baseband and go back to Infineon as well as ditching Samsung SoC would be great )
  • Reply 5 of 18
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,465member
    ksec wrote: »
    I think and I hope the antenna design is what's coming for iPhone 7... no more ugly stupid band. That alone would be worth the upgrade for me.
    ( And if we could get rid of the Qualcomm baseband and go back to Infineon as well as ditching Samsung SoC would be great )

    Ugly? Stupid? Think you could design better?

    I think that funtional elements done carefully can have their own beauty. You start by accepting that they may be necessary or they wouldn't be there. They are expensive to produce that way, after all.

    But maybe you don't know anything about function, and engineering for it.
  • Reply 6 of 18
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ksec View Post



    I think and I hope the antenna design is what's coming for iPhone 7... no more ugly stupid band. That alone would be worth the upgrade for me.

    ( And if we could get rid of the Qualcomm baseband and go back to Infineon as well as ditching Samsung SoC would be great )



    With iPhone there are all kinds of antennas, but only one speaker assembly, whereas the MacBook has two speaker assemblies, both with integrated antennas, at least according to iFixit. I'm not sure, but I think I recall there is some FCC regulation that the cellular antenna must be on the lower portion of the phone to position RF radiation further away from the brain when the phone is held to one's ear, but in the iPhone there are various antennas at the bottom and the top.

     

    Anyway, if the wifi antenna is at the top, I wonder how that affects the absorption of radiation holding the device to your ear using VOIP or the new wifi calling from the cell providers.

  • Reply 7 of 18
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    ksec wrote: »
    I think and I hope the antenna design is what's coming for iPhone 7... no more ugly stupid band. That alone would be worth the upgrade for me.

    much like the breaks on the now-classic iPhone 4, thats one of those things that strikes you as odd for about 10 seconds, and you forget about for the rest of your life after you start using it.
  • Reply 8 of 18
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ksec View Post



    ...And if we could get rid of the Qualcomm baseband and go back to Infineon as well as ditching Samsung SoC would be great )

    Rumor is Apple has started designing their own baseband chips.

    I think we will see it introduced in the 7 or 7S or be used first in the iPad

  • Reply 9 of 18
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,735member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    Hmm...this is the second interview in the span of a few weeks with this hardware VP John Ternus. I don't think the people Apple chooses to put in front of the media is by accident. I think it's also interesting that in both of these behind the scenes interviews Dan Riccio (SVP of hardware) is nowhere to be found. He also wasn't featured in any of the product intro videos, those were all narrated by Jony Ive. This kind of stuff always intrigues me as we know Apple doesn't let just any employee speak with the media.

     

    Maybe that person is not really a media, person, maybe very good technical staff are kind of camera shy.

    It's only recently that these people would have had to face media at all.

    It was certainly not part of their job when they were hired.

  • Reply 10 of 18
    indyfxindyfx Posts: 318member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post



    Hmm...this is the second interview in the span of a few weeks with this hardware VP John Ternus. I don't think the people Apple chooses to put in front of the media is by accident. I think it's also interesting that in both of these behind the scenes interviews Dan Riccio (SVP of hardware) is nowhere to be found. He also wasn't featured in any of the product intro videos, those were all narrated by Jony Ive. This kind of stuff always intrigues me as we know Apple doesn't let just any employee speak with the media.



    I wouldn't read too much into that. Nearly everyone at that level is a superstar (at their job) That said, many don't like talking to the press or making (large audience) presentations (and because they aren't at ease, they tend to not do as well) Jony Ive is a prime example, he would be the perfect spokesman/presenter for apple hardware (and surprisingly he is reported to have the most power at Apple) with Phil & Tim doing "business news" and marketing) However, Jony does not like to make public presentations so he does not do (large) live presentations. 

  • Reply 11 of 18
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post





    Ugly? Stupid? Think you could design better?



    I think that funtional elements done carefully can have their own beauty. You start by accepting that they may be necessary or they wouldn't be there. They are expensive to produce that way, after all.



    But maybe you don't know anything about function, and engineering for it.



    "Ugly stupid band" indeed. So what? Any reasonably caring person would put his phone in a case, anyway, at which point the bands aren't seen.

     

    I used my iPone 6+ last year every day, in its brown leather case. Didn't notice the bands at all. Same thing this year: I put the same case on my new iPhone6s+. No bands.

     

    But I also don't think the bands are ugly—especially assuming that they're necessary.

  • Reply 12 of 18
    sphericspheric Posts: 1,594member
    nolamacguy wrote: »
    much like the breaks on the now-classic iPhone 4, thats one of those things that strikes you as odd for about 10 seconds, and you forget about for the rest of your life after you start using it.

    Nope. Still think they're ugly, more than a year after first seeing them in the wild. This is the first iPhone I've ever put a shell on, partly because of that. Though the 6s in gold in the Product Red leather shell is just the nicest combination I've found. The iPhone 5s I was using previously, I preferred without a shell, because it was so damn pretty.
  • Reply 13 of 18
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post





    Ugly? Stupid? Think you could design better?



    I think that funtional elements done carefully can have their own beauty. You start by accepting that they may be necessary or they wouldn't be there. They are expensive to produce that way, after all.



    But maybe you don't know anything about function, and engineering for it.

     

    With the fact that the antennae are arranged the way they are on the iPhone, as well as the camera protruding out, I think Apple have demonstrated that form follows function, contrary to the common complaint against them that they prefer form over function. 

  • Reply 14 of 18
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    indyfx wrote: »

    I wouldn't read too much into that. Nearly everyone at that level is a superstar (at their job) That said, many don't like talking to the press or making (large audience) presentations (and because they aren't at ease, they tend to not do as well) Jony Ive is a prime example, he would be the perfect spokesman/presenter for apple hardware (and surprisingly he is reported to have the most power at Apple) with Phil & Tim doing "business news" and marketing) However, Jony does not like to make public presentations so he does not do (large) live presentations. 

    Not just anyone from Apple gets media time. Jony Ive is really the only Apple employee that's been allowed to have a 'celebrity' status. So when someone does get media attention, especially someone at a VP or director level my antennas go up. And a few things to me are interesting. Dan Riccio is SVP of hardware engineering yet it's Jeff Williams running engineering for ?Watch. At the March event the product videos for ?Watch and the new retina MacBook were narrated by Jony Ive. At the end of the event Tim Cook specifically called out Ive and Williams for recognition. At the Septemner event all the product videos were narrated by Jony Ive. The exclusive interview with Bloomberg about 3D Touch featured Ive and Craig Federigh but not Dan Riccio. The Medium exclusive on the new Apple accessories featured two Apple hardware VPs but no Dan Riccio. And this most recent interview with Mashable again featured a hardware VP but no Dan Riccio, and Phil Schiller talked about how Ive worked to get ID and engineering joined at the hip.

    Perhaps Dan Riccio is just not one for interviews or doesn't want to be in the spotlight. But I remember when Apple announced Bob Mansfield was retiring there was a story from Bloomberg about employees going directly to Cook complaining that Riccio wasn't ready for the job and that Cook asked Mansfield to stay on to assist the transition. I kind of get the feeling Riccio is sort of the odd man out on Apple's executive team and I wonder if the VP featured in these Medium and Mashable stories is being groomed to take over thaf executive role?
  • Reply 15 of 18
    indyfxindyfx Posts: 318member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post





    Not just anyone from Apple gets media time. Jony Ive is really the only Apple employee that's been allowed to have a 'celebrity' status. So when someone does get media attention, especially someone at a VP or director level my antennas go up. And a few things to me are interesting. Dan Riccio is SVP of hardware engineering yet it's Jeff Williams running engineering for ?Watch. At the March event the product videos for ?Watch and the new retina MacBook were narrated by Jony Ive. At the end of the event Tim Cook specifically called out Ive and Williams for recognition. At the Septemner event all the product videos were narrated by Jony Ive. The exclusive interview with Bloomberg about 3D Touch featured Ive and Craig Federigh but not Dan Riccio. The Medium exclusive on the new Apple accessories featured two Apple hardware VPs but no Dan Riccio. And this most recent interview with Mashable again featured a hardware VP but no Dan Riccio, and Phil Schiller talked about how Ive worked to get ID and engineering joined at the hip.



    Perhaps Dan Riccio is just not one for interviews or doesn't want to be in the spotlight. But I remember when Apple announced Bob Mansfield was retiring there was a story from Bloomberg about employees going directly to Cook complaining that Riccio wasn't ready for the job and that Cook asked Mansfield to stay on to assist the transition. I kind of get the feeling Riccio is sort of the odd man out on Apple's executive team and I wonder if the VP featured in these Medium and Mashable stories is being groomed to take over thaf executive role?



    Dude... that's a whole lot of supposition & rumors, amounting to nothing.

    Some people, while very good at their job, are not good at public speaking. You simply don't force those kind of people to do those kind of tasks, because they will do poorly. This is fundamental business 101.

  • Reply 16 of 18
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ksec View Post



    no more ugly stupid band. That alone would be worth the upgrade for me.

    ...said no serious human being ever.

  • Reply 17 of 18

    When Steve was healthy, his was just about the only face, other than Ive's, that we ever saw. As his health declined, we saw more faces. Part of this was to help Steve get through the keynotes.

     

    Part of this may be to show that Apple isn't dependent on any one person, that there's a team and philosophy that prevails even when someone leaves for any reason. When Steve died, there was much speculation that Apple was doomed. Again.

     

    I think Apple is very deliberately instilling the fact that Apple isn't just any one person.

  • Reply 18 of 18
    With the fact that the antennae are arranged the way they are on the iPhone, as well as the camera protruding out, I think Apple have demonstrated that form follows function, contrary to the common complaint against them that they prefer form over function. 
    That's a good point!
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