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Apple, Influence, and Ive (hodinkee.com)
64 points by aaronbrethorst on May 9, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 61 comments



I have an iPhone and an Apple Watch, both of which I greatly enjoy.

I've never felt more out of touch with both sides of an interview as I did while attempting to read this.

I realize that Hodinkee is a site essentially about incredibly expensive men's jewelry, but sheesh. When the author regretted not bidding more that $42,000 to buy Steve Jobs watch, I realized I am very, very far from the target audience.


"As I did, I looked down at the small section of my life situated at that airport dining table: my new Nike Air Max sneakers, my cashmere swacket (that’s 50% jacket, 50% sweater, 100% cozy), my almost-too-soft-to-be-taken-outside leather duffel bag, and my iPhone. All of these objects were central to me – I felt like they defined me."

These sentences are severely misaligned with my "take this author seriously" algorithm.


But this is exactly what is expected from Hodinkee. Their audience are people who define themselves by buying expensive watches they love as objects. If you want different perspective, read different publication.


I agree. The author wants to write about himself, but I'm not interested in that person, I wanted to read about Ive. I gave up after the second or third paragraph.


If it was in the third person, it would be a perfect William Gibson paragraph. In fact, I scrolled to the top to check that it wasn't Gibson.

(You may or may not take Gibson seriously as an author. I generally do.)


Keep in mind, this is hodinkee. They peddle style. It's the wristwatch equivalent of auto "journalism" (R&T, C&D, that kind of thing, not Motorsport).

So yes, you read it correctly.


If there weren't an actual interview I'd have read it as satire.


The self-conciousness, the fawning... This was a toe-curling read. And then it turns out ultimately Steve Jobs did not give a flying fuck about watches but happily wore a cheapo Seiko on the few occasions that he did use one. Ouch. Yet the author's great regret is that he did not get to spend ~$50,000 on that watch, as if it is has some special significance, rather than being a statement of the opposite, that takes missing the point to another level.

I'm not saying there is not a finer point to extremely expensive watches, beyond the status symbolism, but this article kind of makes me think, no.


The writer of this article is comically reverent of Apple and John I've, and I say this as the owner of multiple Apple products.


Yeah... it's kind of embarrassing.


i love my Apple Watch. I’ve been greatly disappointed, however, that Android watches haven’t caught on. Every company needs a strong competitor to spur innovation.

Given Google’s lead in AI, i’m sure they’d quickly offer features that’ll take Apple years to implement.


Maybe Fitbit Versa will be the one. They've got people from Pebble, and Pebble was great up until they shut down and sold the useful bits to Fitbit.

I think I knew one or two people with a moto360 back when those were newish, but you really don't see them anymore.


I have a moto 360 and an Apple watch.. The apple watch is sooo much better at what I actually care about, looking at the face and seeing real time data alone with the time (complications).

I never use apps, just use it for notifications and glancing at complications to see what the latest wave buoy data is.


For the most part I'm using it for activity tracking, notifications, and a couple of complications, but there are a handful of apps that I've found are handy to have around:

1Password or Duo for TOTP codes. Visual Codes lets people scan my watch to join my wifi network. Dark Sky to check for upcoming rain. Remote to control an Apple TV. Huemote to control a few lights.

I only got it recently, but I get the impression that a lot of companies (Amazon, Twitter, Ebay, and Instagram, etc.) came up with Watch apps and then killed them because they were pointless. Those are things that are better done with a phone. But for small utility tasks, it's handy to have them right here.


I really miss having the Pebble as a silent alarm clock. The motor in it was really strong, and my Fitbit Alta just doesn't compare.


Apple Watch was the initial reason for me to switch to iPhone.

Android watches were all obscenely huge and bulky (I have little tiny wrists) Apple came out with a good looking watch in a smaller size. I've been with iPhone/Apple Watch since.


I was more unsure about buying an Apple Watch than any other Apple product to date. I ultimately decided to buy one before a trip to Europe because, let's face it, it's kind of nice to have a new toy to play with on a solo trip where you've got a bit more free time to yourself to explore, than when you're stuck in the daily grind.

Ultimately they were hard to find at the time, even at the Cupertino store, and I bought one at an Apple Store in Frankfurt instead.

It has had a bit of a slow burn with me. I never disliked it, but I always wondered whether it would be worth the money, or how I'd feel about abandoning wearing traditional watches entirely. (I'm a bit obsessive about these things; I knew if I liked it, I'd wear it every day and never again be 'able' to go back to a non-smartwatch). Eventually I stopped wearing watches entirely (first by accident) a few months before I bought the Watch, so it at least freed up a wrist for this project.

It's bad at plenty of things. It's a 2nd gen watch, and somehow even Apple apps are slow -- the Activity/Workout app, in particular, takes several (4-5) seconds to be responsive after loading it. Same for Strava, sometimes. It's not clear when a button press is registered so you have to stare at it for a few seconds to see if it will do what it should. Or you end up double-pressing a button. And it can't really be used for lap timing because there's no way to consistently/accurately hit a touch button while running or cycling without pressing too hard, or too soft, or of the mark, or dragging slightly. They really need to add physical button functionality for some apps. Oh, and notifications are totally hit or miss which was kind of the entire point.

But it integrates itself into your life so nicely, it's definitely a product I want to keep owning/buying and I hope they keep improving. I bike to work daily, I'm running all the time. I use Strava multiple times a day to record everything. It's so simple. I'd never bother opening an app on my phone for a commute to work, but 2 taps on the Apple watch (caveats above notwithstanding) and it's done.

Fitness tracking is hardly new; I had a FuelBand (2 or 3, warranty replacements, kept failing) and 2 Fitbit Charge HRs (ditto, warranty replacements, failing). But it works amazingly well, and with Strava integration on the watch, with my Suunto watch, with my Wahoo Elemnt Bolt bicycle computer, all of my activity data is recorded and synced to the watch, and fits with the whole ecosystem of Health-based apps, for myfitnesspal for meal tracking and seeing effectively realtime caloric intake/output. Tracking blood pressure and weight on Health on my phone. Call/text notifications, Okta VPN push notifications, Pagerduty acknowledgement. I'm now very much sold on how smartwatches are a useful product.


Agree as well. I love the Apple Watch. The LTE really changed the game for me personally.


I have a first-gen apple watch and I almost never use it. The only time I've really put it to much use was while traveling, but then I bought a cheapo spanish automatic and now I wear that instead. I have an FP Journe that I wear regularly, and it's a watch that I love. It's my only expensive one. I'm not really a "watch guy", I enjoy wearing watches and obviously have spent some money on them, but I can't say that I like the apple watch.


About two years ago I decided that it was time to get a smart watch. I’m a developer, I’m a geek, I love my smart phone — a smart watch is the perfect accessory, right?

Well, actually it’s not. After spending quite a lot of time looking at the different options out there, I realised that a smart watch is a dumb purchase: it’s another computer with a 3-year lifespan, but a price tag like a luxury watch.

So I ended up buying some automatic watches instead. They’re less expensive and sharper-looking.

After looking at the watches shown off in this article: I made the right call. I’m fairly certain that in a decade we’re going to look back on smart watches the way we do digital watches: as an odd fad that noöne will be able to explain later on.


I bought an Apple Watch last fall in what I assumed was a silly, tech-geek pursuit of getting in shape. Surprisingly, the Activity app (the one with the rings) has completely transformed my body. I know all the tricks it's using to motivate me, but damn it, it works. I make sure to close my rings every single day and it shows: I've lost weight, gained noticeable muscle, and went down a notch in my belt. Oh, and I've heard it also tells time.


> we’re going to look back on smart watches the way we do digital watches: as an odd fad that noöne will be able to explain later on

I think you've achieved that rare state of being both right and wrong.

My experience with smart watches: great for showing reminders, glancing at the weather before going out to work/lunch, seeing/feeling messages that I didn't hear on my phone or while I'm standing at the urinal etc, tracking my fitness, controlling the music playing on my headphones or home stereo.

But...these functions will move from the wrist to a different interface that we'll wear. So yes, it'll be a fad if only because the next phase is a non-existent form of wearable computer. It'll be a fad in the same way that a traditional watch is - a set of limited functions that can be migrated to a more advanced multipurpose device.


Right. I think that I agree that in 10-15 years we may look back at these watches with the same curiosity that we look back on digital watches with. There will still be some around, but probably won't be talked about as much.

The thing that I found about it is that watches have such little real-estate, and I have my phone on me anyway, that having a computer with poor connectivity and a tiny screen on my wrist wasn't really doing it for me. I mean the magic in a watch isn't even the functionality. It's the engineering and art and story. Having a halfway-functional computer from the largest company in the world on my wrist just wasn't that interesting to me.


Yes, the Apple Watch is really not a good timepiece or a traditional watches. Really what it does best is fitness tracking and helping you out with your general health. You can see this in the cancellation of the high priced solid gold watches. Sure you can buy one made out of ceramic but I have never seen one wear it (it seems to be a halo unit to prototype designs in ceramic IMHO). Also there are expensive bands but comparatively any other watch will be much more attractive given $300.


"luxury watch"? I've never seen any particularly compelling sub-$1000 mechanical watches, and I'd say the "luxury" segment for watches starts at more than $2000.


> I've never seen any particularly compelling sub-$1000 mechanical watches

I guess it depends on what you mean by ‘compelling.’ Ævig, Lew & Huey, Nivrel, Hamilton, Christopher Ward, Melbourne and many, many more have some very attractive options for under $1,000.

You do have a point about the word ‘luxury’ though — I should have just stuck with ‘mechanical’ or ‘automatic.’


You can find automatic tags for around 1k. I know it's not the Omega, Rolex, Patek, etc, but it is considered luxury by many.


maybe more like $4000 where you can get a low-end Rolex. The $1000-4000 price range seems to be dominated by nice looking watches that use swatch (ETA) movements. At least the sub-$1000 watches are honest about what they are, so you're mostly buying them for aesthetics anyway.


I don't think Ive is 'the greatest designer of our generation' at all. Apple's innovation has fallen off a cliff, they are now a financialized company focusing on essentially being a bank, and watch fashions are not something I have any interest in from them. I wish they would get some of their old mojo back and get back into the spirit and excitement of Apple circa 12 years ago when everyone was waiting to see what they'd come up with next...

/written on an ancient macbook air because they haven't come up with a good replacement yet


If you believe the motto "design is how it works" (and Apple should, because the phrase was coined by Steve Jobs), Apple's design in the Cook era has been abysmal: charging your Apple Pencil by sticking it out of the lightning port. The mouse that has to charge by flipping it upside-down. The beautiful trash can that couldn't be upgraded. And this fucking keyboard that dies and sets you back $700 if it gets so much as a speck of dust in it.

Jony Ive is way overdue for a re-evaluation as "the greatest designer of our generation". Left to his own devices without Jobs as a moderating influence, he produces hot garbage.


Don't forget removing the mag-safe power connector. Having said all that, what company and what person designs better stuff? Most of the crap we buy is garbage.


In defense of the pencil, as terrible as it seems, the charging method has a functional reason behind it. You can't expect to keep it charged, therefore there must be a way to charge instantly with what you're guaranteed to have on hand. If it had been designed any differently, there would be a litany of complaints about having to always carry a dongle or cable or something.


Same the applies to the complaints about the mouse. It was designed with the charger port on the bottom specifically for 2 reasons: 1) to keep the design aesthetic as similar to the original Magic Mouse as possible and 2) to prevent people from leaving it plugged in all the time while they're using it thereby defeating the purpose of a wireless mouse.

Things seem terrible until you take an open-minded look at the priorities of the design. What might seem stupid at first might actually have a well-thought out background.


Actually both #1 and #2 seem almost entirely unimportant to me, the end user, and great examples of their prioritizing the needs and wants of Apple and its designers to the detriment of end users. Appearing like the previous mouse provides me with no utility and I’d much prefer to leave my work provided mouse plugged in at all times and have one less thing to charge.


That's fine. You're more than welcome to use whatever mouse you want. I think you're mistaken in thinking that you're the end user in mind if you prefer to have a corded mouse. It's a wireless mouse. It's targeted at people that want a wireless mouse. It's really ergonomic too. If you don't care about that then don't buy it.

As for it being "to the detriment of end users", I disagree here too. The minor annoyance of having the battery charge on its side while you're not using it is less than the annoyance of having to replace batteries or even remove them to put them in a charger for most users. They'll only care when they have to charge it and, when it's not left plugged in, that should last it at least 9 months. I mean...I dare you to show me a source that says that the Magic Mouse battery is anything but amazing.

I prefer my G903 overall but I get way more use out of my Magic Mouse vs. my Logitech and I have to charge it far less. The G903 can be used wired or wirelessly but that has resulted in me leaving it plugged in accidentally and now the battery life is getting shorter and shorter. It's just a much bigger hassle than the charging on the side.


They should have put port on the side so it's possible to continue to use discharged mouse and charge it at the same time.


This kills the battery.


Having read a lot of the comments on this posting a lot people are judging Ive on how the apple pencil charges, and how the mouse charge. Neither of which are ideal, but hey ho but you have to accept that not everything you do is perfect.

If you look at the computing devices you use day to day I think no person has had a greater effect that Jonny Ive. All laptops are now cut from the unibody macbook mold, all phones are cut from the iPhone mold, and the same seems to be happening with the Apple watch (though no body seems to be able to make a track pad anywhere near as good as a macbook trackpad).

I think if we were to hold other companies to the same level of scrutiny that we do with Apple they would look worse.

I think one of the things that make Ives designs so great is their timelessness. My favourite iPhone is the 4S, it still looks great now. The current iMac design has been in use for 7/8yrs and looks great. Very few other designers are able to achieve this.


> Left to his own devices without Jobs as a moderating influence, he produces hot garbage.

Pretty sure Jobs wasn't a moderating force. See https://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?project=Macintosh&stor..., https://www.folklore.org/StoryView.py?project=Macintosh&stor..., etc.


All those links are from before Jobs' return to Apple.

He matured a lot after Next/Pixar.


With respect to Ive, I think there's something to be said of being in the right place at the right time.

Steve Jobs was the rare executive who truly valued design. He did not nickel and dime on design even when it added cost. Most designers at other companies would likely get shot down any time they presented a novel idea that might be a little harder or expensive to manufacture.

I don't think you can achieve greatness in a vacuum, and I tend to think that Ive was very fortunate to be working for Apple under Jobs. Had he been at any other company, I don't think any of us would have even heard of him.


I think this is the heart of Apple's competitive advantage. They're not trying to save pennies when it comes to the consumer experience, whereas other companies consistently do the details poorly.

Apple products are in no way perfect, but they're consistently the best in class, and it's always fascinating reading about the detail that goes into the manufacturing behind it.

One thing that I think they do really well consistently stay with products, which gives them breathing room to release a polished V1 and then iterate on top of that. The iPod might be dead, but it's over 15 years old. We've had the iPhone for 10 years. Compare that with Google's dizzying number of new product releases that mysteriously disappear after 6 months.


This is one of the few reasons why I'm totally ok with being an early adopter for most of Apple's products. They're not perfect but they're definitely best in class and I feel like they improve with each generation. I could hold off on most of them (and I do for a lot of them - I only update my phones when they die completely and rarely do for new features) but they're one of the few companies whose products have genuinely made my life better.


>written on an ancient macbook air because they haven't come up with a good replacement yet

For all intents and purposes current Macbook and Macbook Pro 13 are excellent replacements for both Macbook Airs.


“The thing that struck me was the vitriol from some commenters. It is not surprising, but it is unnecessary.

It’s just that we’ve been here so many times before, and we’ve sat through people pouring scorn on us with the iPhone. I don’t understand the reaction – while others haven’t been critical and have been more curious and inquisitive. And I think they will do well because of it and the others will fail, partly as a consequence of that dogma.”

Describes 90% of comments re: Apple on this site. Keep ignoring them Jony.


I don't appreciate often enough how many of the profiles and interviews I read are composed by people who've spent years honing the very specific craft of talking to a person and trying to put them on paper.

But reading this amateur effort really puts all of that into perspective. Regardless of what you think of the actual views Ives communicates in the piece, the writing is so bad it's hard to keep reading. Apparently all you have to do for an exclusive is be a mawkish fanboy with a lot of money to spend on men's jewelry.


Eh, Hodinkee may not be to your taste (it's not entirely to mine), but your dismissiveness of it seems misplaced. It's a hugely trafficked website and has been consistently putting out a lot of quality content about watches and men's fashion for almost 10 years now. That's is what got him this access. Not being a "mawkish fanboy with a lot of money to spend on men's jewelry."


I apologize for making my comment so hyperbolic and you are right to call me out for dishing on them unfairly.

I'm familiar with Hodinkee and in general I think favorably of them.

They've brought some necessary web polish to an industry where publicity has a very grubby old school feel to it. Personally, I've used Hodinkee as a jumping off point to do some research into watches I might want to own some day and the site has only made firmer my love for the Nomos house.

That being said, as a journalistic outlet the site is still very much a show run by amateur enthusiasts. This is not inherently a problem, plenty of fields get covered by people early in their career. But there is something specific to luxury watches that makes it unable to feed in or out of the ecosystem of writers and limits the people working there to the kind of people who can be interested in very expensive jewelry.

Compare this profile to one's done by people who specialize in the craft - Ta-Nehisi Coates at the Atlantic on Obama, Caity Weaver at GQ, or closer to the tech world Adrian Chen at the New Yorker and Steven Levy at Wired - and you can see the core editorial and writing skills simply aren't there and likely never will be.


Quite uncanny. Jony 'wanky' Ive is precisely as vapid as you'd imagine a person who makes his design decisions would be.


I'm surprised that Ive did an interview with such a bad writer (as evidenced by overuse of needless adjectives) and one who so obsessively namedrops designer brands as if it's the brand, not the substance, that matters.

Fortunately after the inane introduction, the questions were real questions and not just the interviewer taking the opportunity to make points. So still a good read.


"The greatest designer of our generation."

Pffft. Greatest stylist maybe.

Once again the distinction between design and styling is lost on journalists.


Ok, I'll bite - enlighten us.


There is a difference, even if I disagree with 089723645897236 that the distinction matters here. Design incorporates function as well as looks. A sports car can be beautifully styled, but if the electronics don't work and the engine is underpowered and the transmission has too few gears and the seats don't sit at the right angle, it's certainly not well designed despite its good looks.

What they're saying is that Apple's products are nice to look at but do not function well, which is a very arguable statement.


Apple's products have been increasingly driven by form over function after Jobs died - most obviously slimness over practicality, and gimmicks like the TouchBar over user delight.

To some extent the change started while Jobs was alive, but there's certainly limited evidence of commitment to beautiful friction-free computing at Apple now - as there was, more or less, when Jobs was in charge.

Watch is a low point, because the case design is far from a classic, and the functionality is crippled by poor performance and limited battery life.

So I agree with those who think Ives is overhyped. He can make hits under supervision, but if he's left unsupervised, he's the design equivalent of an architecture astronaut.

The fact that Jobs had zero interest in a watch speaks volumes. I suspect - but can't prove - that he would also have had zero interest in Hermès branding, and the rest.


iMac, unibody macbook, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch. All Ive designs which define their category.

Please provide someone who meets your criteria as a designer and make the distinction between design and styling as it is lost on me.


Cringey long-winded ass kissing pile of Apple worship. He sure loves his Apple products, they touch him on a deeply emotional level.

He elevates 'Sir Jonathan Ive' beyond mere human to a realm where normal human behaviour is worth writing about...

"As Jony posed for our cover shot against a scrim, the photographer, a friend of his, made a few jokes. Jony laughed. Not because he had to, but because he thought they were funny."

Apple fanatics are getting worse.


My iPod Touch died (expanding battery syndrome) and Apple authorized service centers won't replace the battery. Instead they give you a new iPod for the same price as a battery replacement. So I am going through the process of setting up a new Apple device for the first time in a long time.

It's a nightmare. The default home screen is a garish combination of clashing colors. The default wallpaper is a horrific polka-dot pattern. If you don't like polka dots, and you just want a solid color, you have one option: black.

The new look-and-feel does not have any consistent visual distinction for active areas of the screen that should respond to touch. There is no visual feedback for a successful touch. Responses to touches are often delayed. The net effect is that it is often impossible to tell whether you are poking part of the screen that isn't actually active, or if the system is just slow to respond, or if you finger is defective. (That's not a joke. My wife consistently has trouble activating touch screens.)


What are you trying to do that requires a touch, but gives no visual feedback? I can’t think of a situation where a touch would do something and not change the screen in some way. I agree the design is a little flat, though. The flat, minimal design benefits sophisticated users at the expense of new, unpracticed users.

If you’re having trouble because of how hard you press, take a look at the Accessibility settings for touch.

As mentioned, it’s easy to change the wallpaper. If you want a solid color, I agree a native picker should exist, but there are plenty of free native apps that do this.


> What are you trying to do that requires a touch, but gives no visual feedback?

It happens to me regularly that I touch something that I happen to know is an active control and absolutely nothing happens. I have no idea if my touch registered and the app is just hung, or if it didn't register.

> it’s easy to change the wallpaper

I shouldn't have to install an app to make my wallpaper solid grey instead of black.

But that's not really the point. The point is that all those polka-dot patterns are just visually atrocious. They're about as tasteful as plastic pink lawn flamingos.


>It's a nightmare.

Wow. A bit melodramatic here talking about your free new replacement device, and off topic.

Your touch problems are probably due to you pressing the screen, instead of tapping. Just do light taps, and it should work fine. Maybe you are used to a different type of device.

Wallpaper can be changed to anything you want. You can Google it and find out how to do it.


It wasn't free. It cost me the price of a battery replacement, which was nearly half the cost of a new device.

And no, my wife is not pressing the screen. She's tapping it. And she is used to Apple devices. She has had an iPhone for years.

Yes, I know I can change the wallpaper to anything I want. The point is that Apple's default choices have horrible aesthetics.

Steve Jobs once famously said in an interview that the problem with Microsoft is that they had no taste. So now that Apple doesn't have any either I think it's fair game to levy that same criticism at them.




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