In Depth

Jony Ive leaves Apple: the best devices from the designer’s 30-year career at Cupertino - and the worst

As the British designer heads off to set up his own company, we take a look back at his greatest hits - and the ones he’d rather forget

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Sir Jony Ive has announced that he will be bowing out of his role as chief designer at Apple after spending nearly 30 years at the Californian tech giant.

The British-born designer (pictured top, left) is leaving to set up his own company, of which Apple will be “among its primary clients”. 

Ive has been an instrumental figure at Apple since joining in 1992, with a glowing portfolio of products that includes the iPod and iPhone to name but two. His ability to carry out the vision of Steve Jobs has produced some of the world’s most influential devices, and earned Ive a knighthood in 2012. 

With his three-decade career at Cupertino due to come to an end later this year, we take a look at the products that made Ive’s name - and a couple that he’d rather forget. 

The best

The iPod

The iPod was by no means the first of Jony Ive’s gadgets, nor was it the first portable MP3 player, but it was a game-changer for the designer. 

What made the iPod such a user-friendly device was its “genius scroll wheel” that let you “scan through a long song list quickly”, while the intuitive interface “made it fun to use”, says CNet. The simple design proved to be a huge hit with both gadget lovers and technophobes, too, especially when later models were released in a variety of vibrant colours. 

Ive’s next masterpiece, the iPhone, would “eventually cannibalise the iPod”, the tech site says. But the MP3 player was the must-have accessory for more than a decade and arguably turned Apple into the company it is today. 

The iPhone

The device that started a revolution. The late Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder and CEO, is often credited with the meteoric success of the iPhone, but it was Ive’s elegant concept that turned the phone into a must-have luxury accessory - and had rival tech companies shaking in their boots. 

So how do you design a smartphone that will change the world? Ive puts it down to “a fundamental conflict between two very different ways of thinking”, The Independent reports. 

“It is the conflict between curiosity and the resolve and focus that is necessary to solve problems,” he said at the Cambridge Union in November. “Curiosity, while it fuels and motivates, despite being utterly fundamental to the generation of ideas, in isolation just culminates in lots of long lists, perhaps some ideas, but alone that’s sort of where it ends.

“The necessary resolve to find solutions to the problems that stand between a tentative thought and something substantial, that resolve and that focus very often seems in direct conflict with most creative behaviour,” said Ive. 

He describes his creative process as teetering on the “utterly absurd”. Ive added that the shift between the two mindsets “happens to me once or twice a day and that frequency of shifting between two such different ways of seeing and thinking is fantastically demanding”.

The “unibody” MacBook
CUPERTINO, CA - OCTOBER 14: Members of the press look at an aluminum uni-body that is used in MacBook Pro laptops during a special announcement event with Apple CEO Steve Jobs at Apple Headqu

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2008 Getty Images

Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Not only were the MacBooks of the late-2000s the most aesthetically pleasing computers in a sea of black and grey plastic rivals, they also featured a revolutionary design. 

The laptops, known as the “unibody”, are constructed around a single piece of aluminium on to which the hardware is screwed, explains TechRadar. The construction is “inherently rigid”, yet its construction is significantly lighter than a conventional laptop.

Apple also introduced its multi-touch glass trackpad on its early unibody laptops, allowing users to control their laptop with a host of gesture controls, the website adds.

The best part? Today’s MacBooks are all built around the same unibody concept, making this one of Ive’s most timeless designs. 

Apple Park
CUPERTINO, CA - APRIL 28:An aerial view of the new Apple headquarters on April 28, 2017 in Cupertino, California. Apple's new 175-acre 'spaceship' campus dubbed "Apple Park" is nearing comple

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2017 Getty Images

Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Yes, we’re well aware that the company’s Cupertino headquarters isn’t a product, but it’s arguably one of Ive’s most ambitious projects. 

The spaceship-like campus was completed early last year, featuring glass walls and a garden in the centre of the facility. Adjacent to the campus is the Steve Jobs Theatre, which has space for 1,000 visitors and is often used for the company’s product keynotes. 

But what makes the facility particularly impressive is that it runs solely on sustainable energy, most of which is sourced from solar panels that cover the roof, Wired reports.

And the worst

Mac Pro (2013)

Beautiful in design, flawed in execution. The Mac Pro was radically different to any other desktop computer when it launched in 2013, sporting a cylindrical silhouette as opposed to the conventional “tower” design of other desktop computers. 

Nicknamed the “trashcan”, it was designed to improve cooling of the high-performance components. The machine’s board was arranged in a triangular shape, with air being drawn from the bottom of the unit and extracted through a circular vent at the top. 

While CNet labelled the computer a “breakthrough” in design, the Mac Pro’s “fantastic” form meant that it was somewhat difficult to upgrade the internal components. That was a deal-breaker for many professionals. 

Luckily for Apple-loving computer pros, the next Mac Pro will revert to a more traditional - yet arguably just as beautiful - tower design to make upgrading the workstation a little bit easier. 

MacBook (2015)

“It’s an overpriced, underpowered, luxury laptop with only one port that a lot of people have made fun of,” says Macworld of the 2015-spec MacBook. 

The 12in MacBook certainly had a few fans scratching their heads when the laptop was first announced at the “Spring Forward” keynote in March 2015. On the surface, it looked like a next-generation version of the £749 11in MacBook Air, yet it was significantly more expensive at £1,249. 

The laptop was also powered by an Intel mobile processor, rather than the i5 chips in the MacBook Air, and featured a shallower “butterfly keyboard” that was prone to breaking. There was only one USB-C port, too. The connection was almost completely new to the industry, meaning there were barely any accessories on the market that could make use of it.

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