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Scott Forstall leaves Apple (apple.com)
470 points by FredericJ on Oct 29, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 313 comments

Here are the major changes announced:

1. Jony Ive's role is expanded from Industrial Design to Industrial Design AND Human Interface. In other words, Ive is the new Design chief for hardware and software. This is huge.

2. Scott Forstall is out (after an interim advising role to Tim Cook). iOS goes to Craig Federighi who already oversees Mac OS. So, now iOS and Mac OS are overseen by the same person.

3. Eddy Cue's role is expanded (he previously was in charge of iTunes, App Store, iBookStore, iCloud). He now also oversees Siri and Maps.

4. Bob Mansfield will lead a new group called Technologies (wireless and semiconductor).

5. John Browett of retail is out.

Overall, I view this move as extremely positive.

Tim Cook just elevated his most reliable and capable SVPs to assume more leadership role.

John Ive, Eddy Cue, Mansfield and Federighi have all proven to be pretty spectacular. Ive with industrial design, Cue with iTunes/AppStore/iCloud, Mansfield with hardware and Federighi with Mac OS.

Further, Tim Cook gets rid of his problem SVPs - namely Browett who didn't match the culture of Apple... and Scott Forstall (who advanced iOS in huge ways) but reportedly had problems with getting along with other SVPs and also who disappointed users with iOS6/Maps (and also in my opinion poorly designed and implemented Apple apps... appstore reviews for Apple apps have gone significantly down the last year or two).

Cook will probably give Forstall a good severance package with an agreement that Forstall doesn't go to a mobile OS competitor.

I'm actually more optimistic on Apple with this bold management shakeup. Tim Cook is showing the moves of a bold leader... and it's exactly what Apple needs.

I agree! I only see good in these moves.

Great summary, thanks.

Important to mention (you did already, but just to emphasize) that Scott Forstall will be "advisor to CEO Tim Cook in the interim". Interim meaning more specifically 6 months, till April 2013.

This should allow him to cash in some thousands of stock options, which will serve as a natural non-competitive package. Which would be very fair, given his role in re-shaping Apple over all these years.

Anyone who A) likes Apple and B) has ever been in a Dixons store in the UK will be overjoyed with the other departure, Browett (head of retail and previous Dixons CEO) who is leaving immediately (compared to Forstall's year long "transition" departure). Dixons is everything that Apple should never be; terrible customer service, clueless minimum wage staff, horrible retail experience, and generally used only by people who desperately need something immediately or are too naive to find another store.

Recent news out of Apple regarding "cutbacks" at retail suggested he was nudging them in the same direction. Given that he got his first stock disbursement last week and was due $58 million over the next few years if he hung around, I'm guessing he was pushed. Great decision from Cook if that was the case.

>> Anyone who A) likes Apple and B) has ever been in a Dixon's store in the UK will be overjoyed with the other departure, Browett (head of retail) who is leaving immediately (compared to Forstall's year long "transition" departure). Dixon's is everything that Apple should never be; terrible customer service, clueless minimum wage staff, horrible retail experience, and generally used only by people who desperately need something immediately or are too naive to find another store.

I agree, the one thing that irks me though, is that I remember reading the guy was able to convert a sizable part of his Apple stock options only a few weeks ago. That's a quick & cool few million $$$ he made in one year at Apple without any apparent positive contribution :-/

Viewed from the other side, though, he did convert $3 million, yes, but Apple saved $57 million.

Apple can afford to lose the three mil. They'll make that back in a few days once somebody who actually gets Apple's retail concept is running the show again. Somebody who respects the model that brought Apple top-of-the-charts customer service ratings. Somebody who respects that if you're making more money per square foot than any other retail store in the world, you might be doing something right.

Cost of doing business. In Steve's words: "What can I say? I hired the wrong guy."

Many times this type of fast vesting is to compensate for options lost elsewhere. Yes he was a crappy executive, but hiring ex-CEOs is costly.

Considering that Ron Johnson's stint at JCPenney hasn't been going so well, wonder if he'll end up back at Apple.

But why did someone like this Dixon guy get in to begin with? He seemed like an odd choice from day 1, but I figured maybe apple knew something the rest or us didn't. Apparently not.

Apple retail head is one of the most desirable executive positions on the planet. Why couldn't they recruit a true superstar?

I'm a little confused and worried ...

> Apple retail head is one of the most desirable executive positions on the planet. Why couldn't they recruit a true superstar?

I think the problem is identifying the superstar in the first place. Quite frankly, there is no company whose retail comes close to Apple, and so there isn't anyone who has a track record of being able to do the SVP Retail job.

In addition, the Apple SVP Retail job is different from head of retail at other companies (e.g. s/he doesn't have control over inventory [1]), and so when it comes down to the end of the day, it's really hard to find someone who has done a similar job in the past, let alone done that job well.

In all likelihood, Tim Cook had some idea of the downfalls of hiring Browett, but decided to bet on it. I would also guess that given the worries around that time that Cook wouldn't be able to handle the CEO job also made the hiring rather more urgent that it should have been.

[1]: http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/08/25/how-apple-works-insid...

> I think the problem is identifying the superstar in the first place.

I'd look towards fashion - for example the Japanese clothing store Uniqlo [1]. Their stores are quite similar to Apple's in terms of layout and space, the way that they encourage you to come in and look around, and they always have helpful service on hand. The problem is Tadashi Yanai [2] is too rich and successful to leave his current post.

I see a parallel with Apple making (subjectively) luxurious electronic devices available at prices for the masses the way Uniqlo makes (subjectively) luxurious fashion available at prices for the masses. I grabbed a bunch of French linen shirts in Tokyo for ~25 AUD each (though the AUD was doing well against the JPY at the time).

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniqlo [2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tadashi_Yanai

Parallel? More like copied.

Yeah this sounds more sensible, look for someone who can deliver the same experience… not for someone also successful selling electronics because all other electronic shops are fucking horrible (Especially Dixons which I haven't bothered to step into for nearly 10 years now)

It isn't even about identifying. Browett has to be one of the worst choice on the planet in terms of executive. I dont even know how he got into CEO of Dixon in the first place. Anyway all that is past, now that he is gone lets hope they either find someone great or simply promote what they already have.

I had the misfortune of shopping UK retail for a few years, and especially in electronics, I can't imagine anyone using it as an example of a great way to structure anything, let alone a premium brand like Apple.

The only UK retail brands which don't seem horrible are high-end department stores (Selfridges, etc.) and grocery stores, and neither really seems like a good background for running Apple retail.

(Assuming you're American) what specifically makes retail in the US so much better?

Aside from prices and selection (for some reason the number in USD is equal to the number in GBP for almost everything, even when GBP is 1.6-2.2x the USD), it's size and layout of stores and staffing.

There were two main kinds of stores -- pale imitations of Best Buy, Circuit City, and Microcenter (out in the suburbs/small towns) (which is ironic since those businesses have had serious problems in the US market now, too, 10 years later), and urban small stores. The smaller chain stores (Dixons high street locations) had very limited product selection and you had to wait in a queue to get a salesperson to handle your purchase, rather than staff out on the floor to push products (often on commission) and then take the purchase to the registers. The big stores mainly had cookers and other white goods/appliances, with really limited selection of anything tech. This was 2000-2002. EU stores were a lot better in my limited experience (NL and DE). The only way to actually buy computer parts was to go to fairly sketchy flea market type buildings or fairs, mail order, or a small number of independent shops (at least in London; never found anything outside London).

Staff were even less educated on products than at a Best Buy in the US today, terrifying. Even getting people to take a model number and look it up in their inventory system was a minor production.

This is a culture difference. I as a Brit absolutely detest when sales staff are pushy and forcing their way into your purchase decisions. This is generally highly frowned upon in UK culture and is not something the majority like.

I do however agree on some of your other points, such as poor selection and useless staff.

Probably a European thing because Belgians don't like pushy sales staff either.

Actually, nobody likes pushy sales staff, ever.

Fine — but in that case, people's definitions of pushy vary widely.

I prefer if they don't approach me unless I'm obviously looking for help, but in my cases shopping in the UK it was "there is nothing useful on the shelf, I need to find out if there is a product by asking an employee" and not being able to readily get one.

> "for some reason the number in USD is equal to the number in GBP for almost everything, even when GBP is 1.6-2.2x the USD"

Price is set by willingness to pay. full stop. Cost for goods is almost always worked to, backwards, from price targets. Exchange rates don't enter into it, except as pertains to costs.

GBP prices remain 'close' to numeric USD, because people still buy products at those prices. Looking into why they do, leads to interesting questions and analysis about disposable income, taxes, psychology, etc - but it's largely irrelevant.

It is that way because it works.

I will never understand why this concept gets downvoted every single time it comes up. Price comes first. It's not really a secret. Everything else follows from that.

I agree partly with this but it fails to take competition into account.

> Aside from prices and selection (for some reason the number in USD is equal to the number in GBP for almost everything, even when GBP is 1.6-2.2x the USD)

Completely irrelevant to the discussion

I'm from New Zealand but have travelled in the US and lived in the UK. The difference is service.

You get it in the US. I remember it in every store. Initially I thought it was intimidating because I was not used to it. But after a few months and some great experiences I really enjoyed it.

You don't get it in the UK. High street stores, especially noticeable in places like shoe stores where you need service to complete a transaction. You could easily wait 10 minutes until someone was available to help you. And it could take another 10 minutes per pair of shoes you wanted to try on. So painful.

I never got into the helpful staff thing. I dislike being helped when in shops. Clearly I have been in New Zealand too long. Something that really irked me in the US was the way taxes worked. I never knew what I was going to pay, as taxes weren't included in the label price. It wasn't a large percentage, but I never could quite understand why anyone would take the time to make a price label which showed a price different to what I would pay. Does anywhere else do this? i have travelled a fair bit and have never encountered it before (My US experience was limited to California I should note).

(Completely off-topic here, but my understanding is that sales tax in the US can vary from county to county, and definitely varies from state to state, so it's simpler in the case of labelling, and impossible in the case of national advertising, to show the final price. Contrast with Europe where sales tax is nationally fixed, which makes it easy to show the final price. (and in some places illegal not to!))

In California it definitely varies county by county.

It also varies by product, including how the product is consumed. It is quite complex.

It's like this in Canada too. Very irritating. Especially because somethings are subject to tax and some aren't so it isn't even as simple as just adding a percentage to every price.

I'm curious what you think of New Zealand stores. I too live here and I have yet to find a store comparable to Apple's. Then again I don't get out much.

It's worth noting that Dixon's eventually scaled back its high-street presence completely and is now found only in airports. If his role at Dixon's was what got him a job at Apple, I'd be really surprised!

Dixons is just one brand of Dixons Retail (formerly DSG International) which also owns Currys, PC World, etc.

They rebranded all their high street stores to Currys.digital, and although store numbers have been declining, they are still a regular fixture on high streets.

That would explain why Currys and PC World are also ridiculously awful.

Every time I go into one of those shops, it's because I need something immediately, to take away. They never have it in stock, and ask if I'd like to order it. If I wanted to order it, I'd do it myself, online.

I can't believe it's still a viable business model.

Granted they provide convenience and the ability for customers to use products in store before purchase, but I can't believe people still pay the price premium.

I've only stepped foot in their stores twice in the last couple of years; once to try out the new Retina MacBook Pro and once to inspect televisions before buying one online for ~£400 less than their price.

Not exactly. Dixons branches were re-branded as Currys.digital and there are plenty of those.

> Great decision from Cook

Cook hired him, which many commentators pointed out was a mistake in the first place.

People make mistakes, good that he could recognize he made a mistake.


Unless you can hire someone you 100% know will never make a mistake, you should be interested in how they deal with them when they do.

Cook seems to have given him enough time to prove himself (or as it seems otherwise) and has then taken steps to right his mistake.

The problem is it took him too long to know this as a mistake.

> Scott Forstall will be leaving Apple next year

> Jony Ive will provide leadership and direction for Human Interface (HI) across the company

And thus ended the reign of skeuomorphism at Apple. Or, at least, the reign of hyper-realism and hyper-whimsy in UI design. Jobs or Forstall always seemed to favour it, but could you imagine Jony Ive signing off on a Podcasts app where half the screen is a reel-to-reel tape that bounces when you pause?

That's what's so weird, though — that particular reel-to-reel design actually seems like a deliberate combination of both influences.

The skeuomorphic look of Podcasts was based on a physical product design by Ive's legendary design influence, Dieter Rams:


In retrospect, the tension inherent in this odd compromise seems palpable. It's like listening to the last album a band releases before they break up.

Skeuomorphing physical objects designed by Rams is still skeuomorphing.

Skeuomorphic design is rarely as little design as possible which is what makes the podcast design so iconic... er.. ironic.

Same goes for this stupid piece of shit http://www.wthr.co

I was so confused when I saw that app a couple of months back. Why spend so much effort creating an admittedly aesthetically pleasing design, name check Rams and his principles, and so completely miss the point of "as little design as possible" and have a non-functional spinner display for the current conditions?

And having such a prominent °F/°C switch is just baffling. This is not a function used regularly by the vast majority of users.

(Shrug) I don't know anything about this app but I don't immediately get the hate for it. It looks cool.

The spinner dial may not be functional, but it could be and should be, because weather conditions change incrementally and (more or less) predictably. If it's humid and cloudy and the barometric pressure is falling, then it would make sense for the spinner dial to move slowly between "cloudy" and "raining" positions, for instance.

And maybe the author of the app is an advocate of the metric system and wants to encourage users to treat the °F/°C switch as a prominent educational feature. Like I said, I don't know anything about it, but the amount of negativity being aimed at the app seems difficult to justify.

I'm not sure if that part of the comment was aimed at me: I don't hate it, I just think it fails at reaching or perhaps even understanding its stated design goals.

Mostly referring to 89a's criticism ("Same goes for this stupid piece of shit.") I usually reserve language like that for politicians, Sony products, and iTunes, not cheesy weather apps.

Man what luck for Apple that Braun didn't take out a design patent on this.

It wouldn’t matter. Design Patents are valid for fourteen years. Every single product Dieter Rams designed for Braun is decades older than that.

Don’t fight patents with cheap lies. There are plenty of reasons why patents are bad, bad, bad, no need to resort to untruths.

What cheap lies? I'm well aware of how old that design is.

If copying is wrong it is wrong regardless of how long ago the original was made. Or is there some magical cut-off date by which copying suddenly is ok? Why 14 years? Why not 13 or 10 or 50? It strikes me as pretty arbitrary. For a company to go all out in accusing others of copying I think they should be above all that and come up with entirely original designs. Why take a 30 year old tape recorder and mimic that, is that really the mark of originality that Apple stands for? It seems quite hypocritical to me.

It’s most certainly not hypocritical to believe that there should be time limited monopolies on designs and copying designs for which that monopoly has run out. Simple as that.

Don’t argue over ridiculous stuff like that. There is no need for these cheap polemics.

>If copying is wrong

That's never been the philosophical basis of copyright. Copyright is a limited, artificial monopoly designed to encourage creation. It's not that copying is "bad", it's that limiting copying for a short time might encourage people to create new works.

A paper that argues that the economically ideal copyright length is 14 years (which is exactly what the original term of copyright was in the US): http://arstechnica.com/uncategorized/2007/07/research-optima...

Thomas Jefferson articulates this reasoning, talking about patents:

>If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from anybody. -- http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a1_8_8s12....


1. That Braun thing was produced decades ago, and probably they haven't sold a single one of them in the last decade or so.

2. A podcasts app on an iPad, is in no way competing to an ancient cassette player.

3. They're in different categories. It's like if I "copy" a Mercedes logo for a window. Though I'm not particularly in favor of Apple/Samsung case ruling, it's clearly different to copy an element for a competing product (a tablet) or another product that's a whole different beast and is no longer for sale.

There is a world of difference between being influenced by something and doing an exact copy. One is legal, accepted as beneficial to society and common place within the design community. The other isn't.

You are either woefully naive or being disingenuous to assume that the two are the same.

I could matter. Companies that have highly valuable patents can create what are called "patent portfolios" which take some patents, layer them with other patents and use the legal trick of "continuation" to effectively get patent coverage for portfolio as a whole by constantly developing newer, tightly-coupled patents.

Braun, if they wished, could have done so. Of course, I'm sure in that case, Apple would have probably licensed the patents or worked around them.

Jobs loved it. He wanted us to add page turning to our app. Bizarre.

Excellent news. I have always been surprised by the opposing philosophies guiding hardware vs software design in Apple products. They consistently offer beautiful hardware designs that emphasize simplicity, sometimes at a cost in usability (e.g. the sharp edges of the newer iPhones are less ergonomic than the first models). On the other hand, their software makes few compromises in usability, which is a good thing. But it never showed this taste for simplicity and purity that makes Apple devices so appealing from the outside. From the brushed metal windows and shiny plastic scroll-bars of early OS X, to the leather borders in iOS applications, Apple under Jobs and Forstall has pursued the opposite direction. Stock Android actually has the edge here (although inconsistently), something I would not say about the hardware or usability. Hopefully this change means we will see Apple software that preserves usability without the tacky visuals.

That Podcasts app is really really a piece of "work". whoever designed it should be fired.

I actually like a lot of apple's skeuomorphism. I think it makes digital interfaces more natural. I think at least some of the iPhones success can be attributed to the fact that less savvy people find the skeuomorphisms easy to relate to everyday things and helps bridge the gap between, for example, using a real reel-to-reel vs. using a digital representation thereof. Although I agree that the podcast app is too much, I would really miss the leather textures and whatnot of other iOS apps.

There are some interesting ways iOS uses fabric patterns, it's quite clever. But I don't think that making things look like their old-school equivalents really helps people, rather hinders.


Even worse than maps, which are a huge ongoing problem.

+1. The app should have never been created in the first place. The old podcast functionality was basic, but was better than having to switch back-and-forth between two different apps as it is now.

I can't wait to see how much cleaner future versions of iOS will be.

If they aren't staying skeuomorphic, then Metro might give you a preview.

Metro is defined by flat background colors, square corners and no shading. You can have a non-skeumorphic interface without any of those features, and given Apple's history of interface design, it would surprise me if they adopted any of them. Apple loves rounded rectangles, gradient backgrounds and shading to indicate depth, though shine and real-like textures may be on the way out.

Shading and round corners are skeuomorphic, as is indicating depth on a piece of glass.

What Apple loves is irrelevant (if one is willing to ascribe emotional states to corporations). Daimler-Benz loved steering tillers. Ford loved hand throttles.

Think about the way in which the interfaces of automobiles changed over the first forty years as they went from horseless carriages to widespread adoption. That's what we're seeing in computer interfaces.

Rounded corners aren't necessarily skeumorphic; they're a style choice just as rounded cabinets and trim are a (popular) style choice. Likewise, shading and gradients to give an impression of depth and lighting are often used to distinguish items that are clickable or as a separator. These are artistic tools that can be used to various effects, but are not skeumorphic in the sense of trying to imitate a familiar object from everyday life. Virtual representations of objects can be 3D without being skeumorphic; the illusion of depth can be used to convey information.

Skeumorphic features are defined by the fact that they are unnecessary carry-overs from older or different objects. They can be useful and style choices too, but a digital button does not need to indicate depth, whereas a mechanical button does, because it needs to protrude from the surface in order to be pressed.

A mechanical button absolutely does not need to protrude from the surface to be pressed - not only can it start at surface level and be pressed into the device, it can return to starting position and remain flush. Look at most microwaves - totally flat, presses in very slightly, returns to flush. The power button on the mac pro (that neglected tower!) does the same. Also, capacitive buttons exist which, although not strictly mechanical, have a similar behavior.

Protruding buttons are merely a user interface choice. They were never a functional requirement.

Indicating depth in a digital button is a clear affordance.

But likewise, indicating "tape reels" in a recording app is a clear affordance that you can record audio.

This is a slippery slope. There's no hard boundary between skeumorphism and visual affordance, even though you'd like there to be.

Not so slippery. "Tape reels" won't make sense to someone who has never seen a reel to reel. A knobby thing that protrudes, as if you could feel it if you ran your hand over the surface, transcends culture and applies to any normally functioning human being.

The difference between skeumorphism and visual affordance is the difference between "intuitive" and intuitive. One makes a reference to past experience, and is built on natural affordances. The other is not.

That said, I think what you're getting at is it might be impossible to completely eliminate skeumorphism. I agree with that. There's going to be at least a sliver left in almost any interface. That's just one of the byproducts of our having a culture.

No, this is not similar at all.

An image of a tape reel is to recording audio as an icon of a floppy disk is to saving documents — a lazy visual shortcut, requiring a non-trivial semantic context. What is the percentage of humans alive today who have used a tape reel recorder?

The boundary between affordances and skeuomorphs is perfectly clear. Just ask yourself — does the form of the design element in question follow its function?

>Shading and round corners are skeuomorphic, as is indicating depth on a piece of glass.

And flat background colors represent a uniformly lit smooth surface. I don't think that mimicking some basic material properties is really skeumorphic.

It's more when that's taken to the point of looking/acting like a specific physical object (like Game Center's pool table felt) that I'd apply the term.

Skeuomorphic implies that a design feature is no longer necessary or useful. That's not the case here - you still need visual indicators of the extents of a window, and of what's manipulable versus what's static content, and of what's the currently active or selected object. Apple's current set of visual indicators are obviously not the only option, but if they went to a UI as flat as a typical minimalist web design, usability would suffer.

Yes, rounded corner is in Apple's DNA.

I don’t think Apple will go that far. I don’t even think they will overtake stock Android when it comes to ditching skeumorphism and removing affordances.

I also don’t think there will be radical changes. Remember how OS X looked before Corinthian leather arrived? That’s what I see more off in the future. Probably with an updated look (like the new iTunes?), but not much more.

If you want to know how that looks on iOS I would maybe look at something like the editing interface of iMovie, Safari, or Mail.

That would be my guess.

Do you really think that they would radically redesign the next version of iOS?

Next version, probably not unless there is the perception of a burning platform.

But over the long haul, I don't see how Apple can stick with an increasingly dated and arbitrary visual paradigm. How many people have actually been around real to real tape decks or owned a leather desk calendar? And as digital devices like smartphones become more ubiquitous, fewer and fewer people will.

> Do you really think that they would radically redesign the next version of iOS?

Yes. Absolutely. After a year of the longer 4" screen I fully expect Apple to significantly revise the UI to take advantage of this extra room.

Don't expect a radical change that throws out everything Apple has already achieved, but do expect new widgets that make 4" screens better.

We've already seen lots of small changes to take advantage of the extra screen height. Virtually all the iOS built-in apps and many third-party apps have made tweaks. Not just stretching the size of the main area in which you view data or other stuff, but actual interface changes as well.

No. I see each new version tweaking it to be better and better. iOS has stagnated a bit and I suspect Ives is going to change that.

This was also my first thought on the departure. The announcement did look ambiguous on whether Ive would be the final sign-off for software UI. I certainly hope he is, for the reasons you mentioned.

Doubt we'll be seeing any major change like that at least until iOS8. For iOS7 it seems too soon. We might also see it in Mac OS XI, but I also doubt that's coming until 2014.

The good thing about superficial skeuomorphism is, it's really easy to take out.

I think it's pretty clear where the direction of Apple is going:


So it could be coming sooner than you think.

iTunes 11 is obviously not free of skeuo. There is at least the brushed metal volume knob and the pseudo-LCD display. I don't see how the new iTunes went away from the old iTunes, skeuo-wise, apart from the less-but-still-skeuo-looking LCD display.

Could the simultaneity of the purge of skeuomorphists with the release of Windows Phone 8 (and Windows 8 +1 day) be purely coincidental?

Interesting that Eddie Cue remains the company fixer, taking on the quirky Siri and the flakey Maps app just as he was once given a completely fucked up MobileMe.

This is good news.

Even better news is Browett's ouster. The business with his cutting operational corners in retail was a very, very bad omen. If they'd left him in, he might have poisoned a very important well for the company. Hopefully his replacement is closer to Ron Johnson's set of retail and service values.

N'bad, Tim.

As much as Apple's software and hardware are talked about, Eddie Cue is also the guy largely responsible for negotiating Apple's superior media offerings which is arguably Apple's biggest lead on their competitors internationally.

No kidding! Anywhere you can recommend I read more about this?

I don't know of any external sources, but this was most definitely the case when I was there (left in 2009.)

Great, I'll remember to curse him the next time I can't buy something because it's EXCLUSIVELY listed in iTunes.

Not sure why this is downvoted. At least Apple's competitors allow me to buy their music as Linux user.

"iTunes-exclusive content" just means "pirate it", to me.

I just hate how slow the iTunes interface is on Windows, and the fact everything's in m4a/AAC, not MP3.

Isn't AAC a better codec than MP3 as far as quality per bit goes?

Eddy Cue is also the one responsible for getting Apple to make a 7"-8" tablet:


> Hopefully his replacement is closer to Ron Johnson's set of retail and service values.

I wonder if the scope of Human Interfaces extends to the Apple Store. If Apple is taking a holistic approach to coordinating its products, it's worth considering that the store is one of the most important aspects for human interaction and industrial design. Maybe Jony will take some level of control in terms of design and leave the management and promotional aspects to the retail SVP?


That's what he said.

That's what your parent said.

People's reactions to this announcement are overly focused on Forstall's assumed support for heavy skeumorphism (and their excitement at his departure as lead proponent). I think his record as head of iOS since its inception is a much more salient issue.

Forstall led development of the fastest-growing, most popular computing platform of the past decade or so with, to be sure, a few notable screw-ups, but mostly incredible innovation and efficiency. While his departure does sound like the result of a power struggle that needed to be resolved, I really believe we're shortchanging his incredible achievements. Forstall's departure is not unequivocally or even clearly a victory for those who are firm believers in iOS and its ecosystem going forward. The only reasonable reaction is that we'll have to wait and see.

When iOS was new, it was incredible. But it's mostly failed to evolve since then. There have been a few minor improvements over the years, but Springboard in particular feels really old, especially for the iPad. And many of the first-party apps are poor.

Apple has succeeded in the mobile market largely because of their excellent hardware and their app ecosystem. But iOS itself is a little disappointing. It's due for a major evolution, not just more incremental tweaking.

The thing about Forstall's achievements is he did them all under the shadow of Steve Jobs.

Is it that he had to take a more active role now, and not just be a Jobs man?

Is it that Jobs could bring talented people together and keep them there and Tim Cook is failing to do that?

I'm almost certain it's neither of those, but they serve to illustrate the point: when people think of iOS, Scott Forstall is not even close to the first person they think of giving credit to.

I agree that probably neither or those explanations is fully true, but I do believe that Jobs had the ability to harness conflicting personalities towards greater goals.

I do disagree with your last point, though —— I've watched every keynote for the past 6-7 years and Forstall has rocked the iOS presentations. Perhaps I'm biased, but I very deeply associate him with the greatness of iOS, particularly Apple's ability to steadily pick off the "low-hanging fruit" features (e.g. 3rd party apps in 2.0, copy-and-paste, PC-free) with regularity and elegance.

Forstall did a great job bringing Mac OS X and its Core Technologies to a mobile device. Let's not forget that.

As a side note, I do hope iOS will become more open under a new leadership.

Excellent perspective. Apple is not going to succeed or fail based on skeuomorphism. The iPhone and iPad have reached their success in large part because of the tremendous capability and growth of iOS, and Scott Forstall led those efforts. Yes a power struggle seems to be resolved, but Forstall's departure could turn out to be a big loss for Apple.

Just to be clear, he's not "leaving." He got fired. He got fired because after the map fiasco became apparent, he refused to send out an apology or sign his name to the one Tim Cook sent. (internal knowledge)

(No internal knowledge)

I'm surprised he got fired over maps. Mapping is hard - comparable to writing a search engine. Apple did as well as can be expected for a first attempt. They had some kind of problem with Google Maps, and wanted to build their own capability, which was never going to be easy.

He might have been fired if he cheated, by creating a well curated Valley dataset to prove to the other execs what a great job he'd done. That would annoy people.

I've heard rumors that he was seen as "better managing up than down" (impressing his boss, at the expense of results), and that doesn't strike me as something Tim Cook would like very much (both from his reported management style, and the number of stock options he has). I can see that being a last straw from Tim - "You screwed up, now own up to it. Or else."

If he did get fired over maps, it wasn't because mapping is hard, or that the app didn't deliver.

It would be because he over promised and under delivered.

Sure, it was embarrassing to Apple to release a half-assed Maps app, but even more so to tout it just a few weeks earlier as being soooo good.

> It would be because he over promised and under delivered.

And alledgedly refused to own up to it.

Are you certain of that, or is it speculation?

Was he pushed to do Maps, and he told everyone it was going to be a nightmare, and then made the best of a bad situation?

> I'm surprised he got fired over maps. Mapping is hard - comparable to writing a search engine. Apple did as well as can be expected for a first attempt.

The problem is that they released that first attempt. iPhone and iPad weren't their first attempts at phones and tablet computers, they were simply the first ones good enough to take to market.

There are ways of dealing with hard problems- managing scope, managing expectations. I'm not too surprised he was fired for not executing. Remember Papermaster and the antenna?


Exactly. Why do you think the AppleTV is called a 'hobby' ?

Off topic, but I really want one of my "hobbies" to be a half-a-billion dollar business.

Mapping is very hard, and he shipped it before it was ready. That was a pretty bad event for them; caused lot of negativity from users. I'm not surprised.

I learned a long time ago honesty and taking ownership is the best policy.

It possible that he though he did no wrong. Or maybe he thought he was above the fray. But if he wanted to save his job, owning the wrong is the best way. People forgive when the apology is genuine.

While it hasn't seemed to have an appreciable affect on sales or the stock price, the shortcomings of the new Maps have been an embarrassing PR mess for Apple and a hit to its reputation for uncompromising quality that sets it so far apart from everyone else.

It does not surprise that he's being fired for this or that his departure is going to be transitional since he's so intricately involved with so many central aspects and initiatives at the company.

(also no internal knowledge)

Mapping is NOT hard. I know from personal experience.

The reason Apple screwed up maps is because of one reason and one reason only. Licensing. The app itself is great. The 3D maps are great. The data is the problem.

Apple chose not to license data from many of the key players they should have to at least be competitive. My guess is Apple arrogantly thought they could get enough feedback from users to fix up the problem themselves.

Mapping is NOT hard. I know from personal experience.

What map applications have you authored? Any links?

A basic map application just requires data, projections (which is a solved problem, if a little tedious), and a rendering system. Path finding is also basically solved (it's Algorithms 101, though you need something a bit more sophisticated to make it scale). A basic mapping app can be hacked up in a week. A good mapping app is obviously much harder, but it's still doable.

But like taligent said, it's data that's the real problem. Mapping data tends to be dirty and heterogeneous. Do you have a point, or a polygon? You're in trouble if you just have a street address (geocoding can be very hit and miss). Metadata (like the projection) can be missing. Locations can be slightly wrong, and you'll draw a highway running through a shopping mall, or connect streets which don't quite connect, or have gaps in a street because it changes street names and there's a tiny gap between the two streets (which doesn't exist in the real world). How do you normalise the field names? How do you even get the data? Once you've got everything into your database, you move onto the next city / state / country.

Lets see if I understand you right. Mapping is not hard. You just have to get good data. Getting good data is hard though. And getting good data is part of doing Mapping. So basically you said Mapping wasn't hard and then said that a crucial part of Mapping was really hard.

All of which is a roundabout way of contradicting? yourself.

This answers my point better. The fact is that many of these mapping companies that even Google still licenses to this day have been driving around countries in some cases for decades.

That is the real hard part. Trying to obtain all that data. Because every mistake is potentially one person complaining loudly on the internet.

OK, but that's like saying, "Defeating the aliens is NOT hard... The biological vulnerabilities of human DNA are the problem... you just have to be impervious to ionizing radiation."

Much like machine translation and teledildonics, once you start to try to scale globally, mapping is actually one of the hardest problems that is remotely viable at our current technological level. There's a tiny handful of companies that can do a barely usable job, and everything else is worthless garbage.

In Japan, at least, Apple has gone from the former to the latter with iOS 6. (Maps.app did work great last week on a business trip to Austin, TX, however.)

This makes me wonder - who at Apple decided it was necessary to make their own maps app?

It's easy to blame Forstall for a crappy product. But if someone else was responsible for mandating the change, assigning him the project, and pushing an impossible deadline, maybe it's more their fault.

It was a decision that was forced by a number of factors. Google wouldn't agree to providing directions for turn-by-turn navigation, so Apple had to seek other solutions.

Apple always made the maps app. The original app used Google data, and the new app uses other data.

The guy was an SVP, passing the buck isn't really an option at that level. It's about ownership.

Reminds me of this quote from Steve:

"Jobs tells the VP that if the garbage in his office is not being emptied regularly for some reason, he would ask the janitor what the problem is. The janitor could reasonably respond by saying, "Well, the lock on the door was changed, and I couldn't get a key."

It's an irritation for Jobs, but it's an understandable excuse for why the janitor couldn't do his job. As a janitor, he's allowed to have excuses.

"When you're the janitor, reasons matter," Jobs tells newly minted VPs, according to Lashinsky.

"Somewhere between the janitor and the CEO, reasons stop mattering," says Jobs, adding, that Rubicon is "crossed when you become a VP."


I understand. I'm just wondering if he put himself in that position or if someone else did.

Scuttlebutt is that it was an executive-wide decision based on the coming renegotiation of their 5 year agreement with Google regarding Maps. Google has been letting iOS maps lag behind Android maps (e.g., Android has turn-by-turn navigation, iOS maps didn't), so Apple was understandably not excited about renewing that agreement, and leaving themselves very vulnerable to one of their biggest competitors. But they didn't have something comparable, so they pushed a weak maps app early to catch Google off-guard--and they did. Google didn't have an app ready in the app store to replace the one they lost in the OS.

That's my synthesis of the analysis of a bunch of Apple watchers, so take it with a bowl of salt. But it makes sense to me.

Not sure if that's true or not but there's probably more to it than just that correct?

Well he wasn't very liked either.

By whom? The (upper) management, or his team?


Apple Security is probably outside your house as I write this.

Thanks for confirming this.

It seemed obvious that his back-to-back failures with Siri + Maps and the fact that lots of people inside Apple hated him were the reason for this, but it was impossible to know for certain without somebody inside taking a risk and saying that.

Care to speculate on who would be next in line to be CEO now? That was presumably Forstall. Now it would be Cue or Ive or...?

I think there's a few layers to this:

1) Forstall apparently wants to be CEO, and run the company. That puts him at odds with Cook (the CEO), and Ive (who wants to drive Apple's design decisions).

2) He's divisive. There's claims that neither Jonny Ive nor Bob Mansfield would talk to him without Tim Cook mediating. There's also claims that he "managed up" (showed off to the boss) better than he "managed down", and stole credit while deflecting critisism.

3) He was the guy in charge of Siri and Maps.

4) He was probably the one driving the post-Jobs war with Google.

Siri and Maps are Apple's way of fighting Google. Siri competes with Google Search, and Maps competes with Google Maps. There are reasons why Apple wants to spite Google, but the whole strategy could also be Scot Forstall's way of creating his own empire in Apple. Going head to head with Google requires lots of resources, which would all be under Forstall's command.

I don't think it's a good gamble for Apple. Google doesn't really hate Apple. I bet they'll port everything they can to iOS, as long as they can keep pushing their ads. Nexus might see Apple as a competitor, but Nexus isn't worth as much as adwords. As Eric Schmidt said in an interview - "It's their call".

If Apple goes down the path Forstall wants, they'll be going head to head with Google in the things Google is best at. If they stop trying to turn into a data / AI company, they can focus on what they do best - making easy to use devices which sell like hotcakes, and command a fat profit margin.

Android will hurt them, but as long as they focus on their core strengths (hardware, marketing, industrial design, interface design, and integration) they'll continue to do pretty well. They milked the iPod for a decade, despite there being plenty of better value competitors. They can do the same with the iPhone. They can do the same with whatever the next big thing is. I'd say going to war with Google will be at best a waste of time, and most likely a string of humiliating losses.

Spot on. I can't help but add that on the day Apple is getting a lot unwanted press, the company you paint as Forstall's rival, Google, is also on HN front page with a remarkably quiet announcement of a $399 10" 300 dpi tablet.

I hope this marks a low for Apple. All things considered, they could do a lot worse. Hopefully they will only keep improving.

The only reason I'd buy a Nexus over an iPad is if Google offers great integration (search + maps) on the Nexus, but Apple blocks them from doing the same on the iPad.

If Google was a hardware company (not a search company) I could see why they would screw over the iPad by not porting their apps. But Google is not a hardware company, most of their revenue comes from search. They want Google search (or the next generation, interfaced with their Siri clone) on every phone and tablet. That's why they make Android open source.

Apple can try to screw over Google, by blocking Google apps (or just not cooperating with Google on integration). They can offer their own search and maps, but they'll do a crap job, and end up screwing their customers. It might hurt Google, but it will also hurt Apple (as Android will have a big advantage).

The best thing for both companies is cooperating to get Google features on the iPhone. Sure, Apple may resent Android, but they are just going to have to suck it up. If it weren't for Android, Microsoft would be making the leading iOS substitute, and I can't see either Apple or Google loving that.

So with Forstall gone do you think the Apple front of the patent wars might calm down a little?

I doubt it. They'll still sue Samsung. They just won't try to beat Google at search.

I regret that I have but one vote to give this analysis. Spot on.

Does anyone but me here listen incessantly to podcasts?

The latest Podcasts App from iTunes is a skeuomorphic mess. It has a superfluous animation of a reel-to-reel player of course. But it utterly fails at its most basic task: playing a goddamn podcast. But don't take my word for it, it has a 1.5 star rating on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/podcasts/id525463029

Not to mention crashes... Apple used to make jokes about the Windows blue screen of death. Well, that's my new day-to-day experience with iOS apps. I'm constantly restarting crashed apps over and over.

Honestly, this is good news if Forstall really is the driving force behind the deteriorating user experience of many apps.

The Podcast app and the iPad Music app are both a mess, and both happened under Forstall as I understand it.

Trade away the lyric and podcast show info displays for kitsch wood veneer? And a reel-to-reel tape recorder simulator? Move seek controls to weird locations? Replace the easy-to-spot seek knob with a radio needle? Why? So many small steps backward, even if no single one was a deal breaker... negative trajectory is negative trajectory.

If this means they walk some of that silliness back, it's the best Apple news in ages. It started to look like designers who didn't actually use the apps were taking over.

Wow. I haven't listened to any podcasts recently but felt compelled to try it after your post. That thing is just awful. Not only "yo dawg, I heard you like skeuomorphism..." territory, but they didn't even do it right - scrubbing through a track is completely disconnected from the tape wheels (go in reverse, it's much more obvious) If you're going to go down that path, you really have to emulate the device in question 100% accurately or else it just looks really stupid.

There's a good reason that its a bad idea to roll a system UI replacement the vast majority of the time. The next time it comes up in conversation, I now have a perfect example of why in my pocket.

I also totally agree about the "designers who didn't use the apps" bit, and would go a bit further - they really need to do a better job testing real-world network conditions too. Designing stuff designed around cell reception doesn't fare so well outside apple campus where it's not blanketed with reliable, high-speed, low-latency network connections. iTunes Match... it brings back memories of realplayer. It's a cost of secrecy, but seeing that the supply chain had already failed them there, best embrace reality and use it to improve stuff before launch.

I think that's unfair: The "everything is simplistic, monochrome gray" half of Apple's recent design may be more tasteful in many people's view, but it isn't any more usable.

I had many situations in which the auto-hidden scrollbars made it impossible to tell that there was more to discover in a scroll view. The CAPS SIDEBAR HEADERS have no triangle indicator anymore, it is impossible to tell without hovering if a section is closed or open & empty. The monochrome sidebars made Finder and iTunes noticeably less efficient in my usage. Many new-style toolbars like Xcode's are not customizable anymore. etc...

And all these things are in line with Apple's hardware design (where I enjoy the simplicity a lot more).

The last time I looked, save dialogs for example in Preview were broken too, as the horizontal scroll bar hid most of the lowest row even when you scrolled to the absolute bottom. What were they thinking? That's a pretty serious basic level bug that your UI is blocking your data. Don't they test such big changes?

All kinds of things are broken left and right in OSX but I guess that's just how it is. Mail hangs constantly and silently, you're just not receiving anything anymore. You can't close it (and force quit is not an option anymore?), you have to kill it from command line. The new calendar is brown faux leather all of a sudden, completely different than everything else. And you can't easily select which account you're viewing and setting events for.

It is interesting to note that software functionality and polish above a certain mediocre level just can not be reached.

Sure, sometimes it's understandable that stuff is totally rewritten from scratch since some fundamental new technology made it necessary, and you have to go to a state of more brokenness. But even when that is not the case, it seems software can't go beyond "90% complete" or so, at best it just reaches an asymptotic level where stuff is broken at the same rate as it is repaired.

After the major and hard stuff is done, what the heck are all the engineers and testers working on? If you're not in a hurry to create those big features any more, you could concentrate on at least doing the few new small features very well. But it feels as if OSX UI has taken as many steps backwards as it has gone forward from Snow Leopard.

This happens in other software too. For example Xnview and XFLR5 have both been developed for a long time and have had their ups and downs, and at the moment might be below 50% of their historical level of "perfection". But they're cheap/free mostly one man operations, multiplatform and have had massive rewrites and feature expansions. Often the developer might not even have some supported platform to test platform specific issues on, and it's a surprise they work as well as they do.

You likely know this already, but Downcast is an awesome podcast app, it has location based downloading as well, which is great if you're a commuter.

(I also listen to a lot of podcasts and have been disappointed by the Apple Podcast app).

Luckily, they didn't immediately pull all competing apps out of the store when they released this, as they have done in other cases.

Podcasts.app is crap, but there are Instacast and Downcast (I alternate between those) and probably other good choices that cost less than a half gallon of gas.

When have they pulled competing apps that they haven't acquired?

Apple has capriciously pulled apps from their app store too many times to count, so I assume you specifically mean when have they pulled competing apps because they decided to introduce their own apps with similar features. Well, they've done that numerous times, too. For instance:



EDIT: fixed first link

On a suggestion from my father - I downloaded the 'downcast" app. $2 well spent in my opinion.

I have tried almost all the podcast apps at this stage (sinking about $15-20) and although Downcasts is great (my number 2 choice) I recently found myself prefering the lesser known Pocket Casts. The best feature by far is they poll the feeds on their own servers and push notifications to you (I know Instacast is supposed to do this but I didn't find it very reliable and Instacast had many other problems for me). Pocket Casts very rarely crashes (with over 60 podcasts subscribed), resumes/pauses system-wide reliably and instantly, has a nice responsive UI (even on my iPhone 4) and has full import/export OPML so you aren't stuck with them. No affiliation.

The new podcast app makes certain workflows impossible--like downloading a single podcast before taking a walk. Now it just says "preparing to download" indefinitely. By the time it shows up on my device, that window of free time to listen to a podcast is gone. Complete and utter crap.

It's horrifying bad. Even the app that I use for my (relatively) ancient Nokia N8 (Podcatcher) is miles better than Apple's Podcasts app. The SO complains about it all the time.

Not sure about you, but I've had pretty decent success with the Podcasts app.

It was a bit cumbersome to learn (tap to show position/scrubbing bar) but it works well for my news podcasts as well as my podrunner casts.

I often find streaming works fine instead of downloading the episode... couldn't do that before easily in the iPod/Music app.

Can't up vote this comment either. Just the reel to reel player is a joke.

He oversaw Siri and Maps, two products which over-promised and under-delivered, and six months ago he cashed out 95% of his Apple stock.

I think it was evident he lost the power struggle and it killed his enthusiasm. His heart just wasn't in it anymore.

75,000 options vesting in 2013 and 100,000 vesting in 2014 probably explain the year as adviser - i.e. fiscal year 2013 ends October 1, 2013 so one year from today is probably adequate for those options to vest and may have been an equitable way to resolve severance negotiations.

Why even have a vesting period if the company is going to give them to executives anyway? If Tim wants Scott out, then why pamper him with free money? It's not benefiting shareholders.

I suspect the stock options were to help maintain the illusion of stability and unity in the period before and after Jobs' death. 75,000 shares is a lot of money for one person but if it keeps the stock price a couple of dollars higher it is a net benefit to shareholders.

Apple has more than 939 million shares, maintaining $1.00 in share price is nearly a billion dollars in shareholder value.

If the influence of the vesting schedule helps delay his (presumed) move to a competitor, I'd say it benefits shareholders plenty.

That's interesting, do you have a source for the stock cash-out?

Thanks! Interesting quote:

    Although a major sell-off can sometimes mean an executive 
    is leaving a company, that might not be the case with Forstall.
I wonder why this didn't generate any rumours of his departure at the time?

I think this is more interesting:

"Forstall has made it abundantly clear inside Cupertino that he would like to eventually be Apple's chief executive, adding that "he wears his ambition in plainer view than the typical Apple executive.""

Power struggle. It'll be interesting to see where he goes next.

Interesting that Jony will be overseeing UI. I expect a more minimalistic polish to upcoming interfaces. In other words, this is the beginning of the end for the skeuomorphism trend at Apple.

Yes, it's widely known that Ive was one of the most strongly opposed to skeuomorphism whereas Forstall was one of its biggest proponents within the company.

You're the second person that mentioned skeuomorphism. Could you please explain what it is and why it's a big todo? Most of my cursory google searches don't provide any particularly insightful definition of what it is. The blogs/rants usually just dive into why it's good or bad.

Skeuomorphism has been interpreted two ways - as decorative elements (leather stitching), and in functionality that attempts to emulate a real world object (page flipping in an e-book).

The former is just a matter of aesthetic preference. Where skeuomorphism gets dangerous is in the latter case.

A perfect example is the horrible address book in OS X. It looks like a book, and therefore the user expects it to function like a book. Yet, it doesn't. It's this area of interaction design that has run afoul at Apple.

You give "page flipping in an e-book" as an example of dangerous skeuomorphism, but then cite Address Book as why it's bad. I'm a bit confused. I get why you don't like Address Book, but do you really think page flipping in an e-reader is bad too? If so, why do you think that?

The dichotomy is what's dangerous. Address Book looks like an book, so I'll try to interact with it like that. When that doesn't work, I get confused, angry, and it's generally a "failure" from a UX point of view.

Neither form of skeuomorphism is inherently bad, but it's easier to shoot yourself in the foot and ruin the UX when you move from decorative to functional.

Yes, I get the complaints about Address Book. But "page flipping in an e-book" is either really poorly written, or was not referring to Address Book to begin with, since Address Book is not an e-book. Hence my question.

Indeed, they were intended to be separate examples.

Because pages in an e-reader are not physical sheets bound together that require flipping over before you can see the page below.

If you can render the next page faster, then why fake a 'page turn' that takes time to animate.

It's the very definition of skeuomorphism.

The speed at which you can present text to the reader is not the end-all, be-all of the reading experience. In fact, the logical conclusion, of having zero transition whatsoever, is actually a pretty terrible experience. Why do you think people use smooth scrolling on their OS? Transitions are very valuable in producing a good user experience, whether it's a simple horizontal slide as the Kindle iOS app uses by default, or a page turn animation as iBooks uses by default. And if your argument is purely about the speed of the animation, there is nothing about a page turn that inherently requires it be slower than a horizontal slide.

Speaking personally, the iBooks page curl is one of my favorite features of any iOS app, period.

I don't know when it has been introduced, or even if it was always there and I didn't notice, but iBooks also supports continuous vertical scrolling and it IS much faster than looking at an animation that shows a page turn or a slide. The default mode, "page turn" doesn't make any sense. When I scroll through an ebook through the continuous scrolling, the text appears INSTANTLY, without a perceptible delay and since it's continuous scrolling, you don't go from a page to another, but you're always "in between". The concept of a "page" 1, "page 2", "page" 3 itself is no more. It's not a physical book, it doesn't need pages.

This is a case where I recognize the absurdity of pages in e-books, and yet I still like to have them. Pages give you a sense of progress through the book, and act as a proxy for time spent. They're not necessary as part of the presentation of information, or even telling a story, but I do like having them there.

Maybe this is one example of skueomorphism done right, at least from my point of view. An anachronism that helps to make the user feel comfortable with the application, even though it isn't strictly necessary.

I think a better animation would be the page 'lifting' and swiping away quickly to reveal the page underneath. You still get the affordance of turning a page, but with a new and improved SwiftTurn digital method, and without the ponderous neccessity of fake flipping a page.

Ala swipe to unlock, or elastic scroll-ending. Use affordances, rather than limiting real world analogies.

It's a matter of personal preference. A seemingly endless expanse of text seems daunting. I like the idea of pages, they break down the text into more manageable pieces.

Scroll mode was introduced in the just-released iBooks 3.0. And I personally think think a never-ending scroll of text is not a good way to read a book. Pagination is very helpful. I realize other people like scroll mode, but that's a personal preference.

Problem with Adress Book is that it doesn't do page flipping, although it looks like a regular book.

Yes, I get why people don't like Address Book. But it's not an e-book or e-reader, so "page flipping in an e-book" is referring to something else (presumably, iBooks).

The point was that iBooks looks and behaves like a book, so it works even if you consider it distasteful; Address Book looks like one but behaves completely differently, leaving the user confused why this "object" doesn't work.

By your latter definition, inertial scrolling with snap-back is skeuomorphic, and that is universally praised (and copied).

    Skeuomorphism is when a product imitates design elements
    functionally necessary in the original product design, but that
    becomes ornamental in the new product design
Examples: leather/paper/textile textures, hyper-realistic shading, analog controls/displays.


It's a design technique where the artist creates user interfaces that tries to mimick the real life object as much as possible.

Take for instance some of the apps on iOS. The have book bindings, rings, shadows, etc.

Skeuomorphism is a design approach where digital interfaces retain certain elements from their real-world counterparts. For example, the notes app on iOS looks like a real-world notepad, with its leather binding and yellow lined pages, including a torn paper effect along the top where previous pages have been pulled out of the pad. (Obviously these pages do not exist in the digital world, and therefore this design choice is an attempt to insert "realism" into the UI for the purposes of familiarity == skeuomorphism)

Essentially, trying to mimic real world (as in the physical world) applications and appearances. See Calendar and Contacts on iOS for a perfect example of skeuomorphism to the extreme.

Skeumorphism is when a user interface is stylized to look like real world materials (e.g. the Calendar.app on OSX is made to look like a leather desk calendar). The big argument toward it is that it either looks tacky or ruins usability.

I'm very excited about this. I left the Apple ecosystem over thier poorly-designed skeuomorphic interfaces (iCal and Address Book in Lion being very frustrating). I love the hardware, though, and I'm excited for a return to UX on par with that hardware.

I just hope that they can keep the contrast and the explicit visual of what a component does. Case in point: fire up letterpress on the ipad, get a gamecenter popover with its felt and wood finish, you can clearly identify what is supposed to happen (aside from copy[if you've used gamecenter before]).

Do you really like the gamecenter popover?

To me it's one of the worst designs on the iPad. The buttons are way too tiny, they are arranged differently for every game, and each game seems to compete for the least intuitive layout and labeling.

Yeah why not? The metaphor works/I cant think of a better one. One thing that I like about some of Apple's approach to things is that the user explicitly enters a mode or changes frame of action. There is a mode the user enters when moving around ios icons/making folders, there is a mode when editing content that appeared to be static at one point. The faux leather/fake realism helps make that switch. If the Xbox os looks just like Metro, how does the user know when things are different?

Yes, well, I'm all for having a popup and for having it stand out in terms of design. I just say that the GameCenter-Popups is a very poor design, especially by apple standards.

In other words: The metaphor is fine but the execution is lacking.

No. It's not UI, it's HI (Human Interface) now!

It's best we all get used to it. It'll be repeated again and again from now on :)

Edit: This is what I mean: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_Interface

> Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. Please search for _Human Interface_ in Wikipedia to check for alternative titles or spellings.

It's still a non-word, but will be an (oft-used) word soon enough (like that damn skeumorphism thing).

Apple has been using the "Human Interface" terminology since the 1970s.


The academic field behind UI design is HCI (Human Computer Interaction), so HI makes more sense :)

And before HCI it was MMI (Man-Machine)...so the term evolves.

Do you have any references for that? HCI has been in use since the late 70s (I believe it originated at Xerox PARC, since the earliest literature I can find using it is from there), and is now the de-facto standard term for all major conferences/publications. On the other hand, searching "MMI" on the ACM digital library only returns it as an acronym for various more-or-less related things.

Maybe MMI is a mistranslation from other languages? This Danish site [1] uses it, and I know the used French term is "Interaction Homme Machine", which I can easily imagine being translated to Man-Machine Interaction

[1]: http://www.eit.ihk-edu.dk/subjects/mmi/intro.php#0

It's mentioned here for instance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_interface. I always got the impression it was a term emerging from the military in the 1940s-50s, when they began to study the ergonomics of cockpits, flight control systems, etc.

When working with engineers from Israel, I still hear the term "MMI" used frequently. They use it the same way I would use "HMI" here in the states.

Apple has used the term HI for a long, long time.

I remember HIG, surely (having read it many times, first for pleasure and now as a developer), but it was always H+I+G, never H+I+something else. But I can be mistaken...

Edit: It doesn't matter if you're an iOS/OS X developer or not. Even if you're a web designer, you should really read Apple's HIGs carefully and thoroughly. They're (by any definition of the word), "great".



Well a Director of Human Interfaces would be responsible for defining the Human Interface Guidelines.

Human Interface (as in Human Interface Device) was even used by MS during drafting of the USB standard. Admittedly that's hardware, not software, but Human Interface isn't a new thing.

happy for this move. i was actually starting to envy microsoft's metro design aesthetic and loathe the changes that came in every new os x release.

It will be interesting to see how Apple approaches a minimalistic Jony style. Will it they make similar choices to Microsoft's Metro interface?

Probably not, considering their long history in "candy" UI. OSX's chrome style already strikes a good balance, I think they will keep it that way and just phase out the hyper-realistic apps.

That and I see Ives pushing for consistency.

Interesting timing on the announcement, given that the stock market is closed today and likely tomorrow too.

As both a fan and shareholder of Apple, I'm very pleased to hear Browett is out. The stories that came out a couple months ago about the changes in Apple Retail did fill me with admiration for his management style.

Also, given how Forstall is described in a Business Week profile[1], and that Bob Mansfield is not only sticking around, but heading up a new team, I wonder if Mansfield laid out an ultimatum to Tim Cook about 'him or me'.

[1] http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/scott-forstall-the-sorc...

Regarding Mansfield, it's interesting that Apple announced his retirement a few months ago: http://www.apple.com/pr/library/2012/06/28Bob-Mansfield-Appl...

Then Cook convinced Mansfield to "unretire" and become an advisor: http://gigaom.com/apple/shedding-light-on-apple-exec-drama-w...

And now, Mansfield heads up a huge new group called Technologies (wireless, semiconductor, etc).

What a roller coaster for Mansfield... but not just him, the entire management team because they're all working together and dependent on each other.

I think retaining key talent is one of Tim Cooks' most important jobs... and this shows pretty clearly that Mansfield was tired of his previous job, wanted to retire, and Tim found a way to create a position that interested him, or at least, would keep him around for a couple more years.

And this new section, I think, could be really important.

Apple has been really innovating in silicon and wireless technologies, and they're at a point where this will increasingly be the source of key competitive advantages.

I suspect Mansfield's job is to integrate this division, get it whipped into shape and then recruit a replacement to lead it.

It sounded like his management style left a lot of people in the company completely loathing him. How is that admirable?

Pretty standard (and smart) timing of the announcement. They release it while the media is focused on Sandy and the election so the minimum amount of scrutiny will be placed on Apple.

One of the biggest questions about Tim Cook was whether he could keep the management team together. Now one of the longest serving and most importance pieces of that unit is leaving. Whether or not it was a good decision, the market is going to interpret this negatively and they'll be scared there will be more of this.

If this were good news this is the last time Apple would have released it...

Can everyone saying "it's unfair to dump him due to Maps, because mapping is hard" realize it has nothing to do with the quality of the application, but the quality (or lack thereof) of the PR and management of customer expectations.

If Apple had come out 3 months before iPhone5 and said "Look, we really need to divorce ourselves from Google Maps as we can't be relying on an arch-competitor for such an important service, but please be aware that our new Maps app will have issues for several months as we work out the kinks based on customer feedback", and reinforced that message several times, the issue would have been close to a non-issue - and I think most people would have understood.

Instead they came out and said "new Maps is the greatest thing since sliced bread!" (paraphrasing) which was downright wrong and people rightly felt let down.

I don't know about that PR move you suggested. It's not very becoming of the market leader to publicly express that their own product that hasn't launched yet, and won't for 3 months, is buggy and incomplete - and to be patient with them while it gets fixed. I don't agree that calling it the best ever was such a great move, but that's what Apple does.

In a couple years, it won't matter what happened with the Maps launch. It'll be great by then. And nobody will be talking about it - just like 0 "average consumers" talk about antennagate.

It's not very becoming either that the CEO of such an image concious company has to make a such grovelling apology for such an embarrassing failure...

I agree that in the long term Maps will be great and people will have forgotten the ill-planned launch - except perhaps Scott Forstall.

You're right too, but that's a better move than a preemptive apology. They have the "report a problem" feature in the Maps app too, so it should help organically grow.

I do miss Scott Forstall on stage, he was a good presenter.

Ive heading up "Human Interface" now. Say goodbye to the Rich Corinthian Leather on every third App.


Corinth if famous for its leather! /Archer

Another upside: iOS and OS X are now both run by the same person. Hopefully this means that when there is convergence/overlap between the two platforms, it will be done more thoughtfully, rather than taking something from one and awkwardly bolting it onto the other one a la Launchpad.

At first I was shocked by the headline, but after reading the story, I actually think, this could be amazing.

Getting Jony Ive to oversee both industrial and software design, could lead to something very exciting, that provides the innovation, the software, has been lacking.

I have full confidence, in Eddy Cue, Craig, and Bob their new roles, and hope this means Bob will stay on longer.

As per the direct no apology firing of Browett.. Sweet! I was actually hoping for that. I was insane to gamble with the Apple stores reputation and service for a litle more margin. Having now seen a Dixons, I have no idea, why he was hired

John Browett didn't last long. Jony Ive overseeing UI should be interesting and might bring an end to the skeuomorphism bug at Apple.

I wonder how this will affect iOS. Forstall has been in charge from the beginning (afaik) so we might see some big changes and even better integration with OS X now that Craig Federighi is in charge of both teams.


I wonder if Forstall's departure has anything to do with Mansfield staying on?

So... can we now all agree that Tim Cook is a good CEO?

Jury's still out at this point[1], but this certainly makes me optimistic. Or, at the very least, intensely interested in what this new arrangement will yield.

[1] He seems to certainly not be a bad CEO if we're talking about the set {All CEOs}. But you'd have to be really really good to not look awful if you're following Jobs.

To take the scalpe of the "mini-Steve" AKA "CEO in waiting" shows an adeptness at self-preservation if nothing else.


Yes, as long as he's not giving presentation.

I don't know if anyone ever doubted Tim Cook as a good/credible CEO. The only issue is whether or not he can be jobs-level which is unlikely but remains to be seen.

I think jobs-level is unattainable really. I am just hoping Cook is a consistently great CEO.

Jony Ive is now responsible for HI guidelines across the company?

That could turn out great or horrible. (I'm not sure whether obviously great hardware designers can also be great UI designers.) I'm optimistic for now. Hopefully that means bye bye overt skeumorphism.

(I do think Apple's UIs have in the past always been above average, sometimes excellent. Their fashion choices, however, have at times been horrible. It would be great if Apple could change the second, not necessarily the first part.)

The man's got taste. That's good enough for me. Though I fear that it probably is "bye bye overt skeumorphism", but what if the new ideology is "hello excessive minimalism/removing every last pro feature left"? Let's hope not.

I don't use iCal or Address Book much, so I don't hate that stupid skeumorphism like the rest of the world (I like it though when it's used sparingly and isn't just keep getting in your way)...

The man's got taste.

That was true of Jobs as well... but holy crap, have you seen his yacht?

Unfortunately, good aesthetic judgement in one area doesn't always carry over into other areas, even those that seem closely related. Human-machine interfaces have a functional aspect that can't be handled by dashing off yet another homage to Dieter Rams. Ive hasn't yet shown competence in this aspect of design.

> That was true of Jobs as well... but holy crap, have you seen his yacht?

On the other hand, have you seen the designs the approved for the future HQ?

To be honest, the new HQ design looks both bombastic and anonymous to me. I especially wonder what it's going to look like from ground level; I have a sneaking suspicion that the circular facade is going to make it look like you're at the back of the building no matter where you are. But it's very hard to judge these things in advance from a few illustrations.

Yes. If design is language, the new Apple HQ's architecture speaks of an encircled army camp, bulwarked against any possible engagement with the world around it. Every visual feature is defensive in nature.

It's the sort of place where I'd expect a zombie movie to finish up, not where I'd expect people to be inspired to create great things. It belongs in Pyongyang, not Cupertino.

Though I fear that it's "bye bye overt skeumorphism" for sure, but maybe it's "hello excessive minimalism/removing every last feature"? Let's hope not.

Well said. Ive's aesthetic has certainly worked for the hardware line. Even if for nothing else than just the novelty of seeing what they'll put out, I'm delighted to see him take over all HI.

I agree - we don't really know anything about Jony Ive as a UI designer. The skeuomorphism will probably be toned down, but I have a hard time believing he will follow Microsoft's lead by copying Metro. Windows 8 and especially Office 2013 are really exposing Metro's weaknesses as a desktop paradigm.

I hope it breathes some life into iOS. I feel like Cupertino is still thinking people are beating the "iOS is way more pretty than Android" moniker to death when it hasn't been true for a while, meanwhile, I understand it's an opinion, but I don't think iOS has aged as well.

Toning down overt skeumorphism is just the start.

Given that 50% of the posts talk about skeuomorphism and honestly I didn't know what it was, here's the definition from Wikipedia: "A skeuomorph, or skeuomorphism is when a product imitates design elements functionally necessary in the original product design, but that becomes ornamental in the new product design".

It's a new word for an old concept: a decorative anachronism. Obvious examples from outside the world of computing include stone pillars in front of important buildings, and rivets on jeans.

It's abused here on HN as short-hand for app decorations that people don't like, like the infamous leather treatment on the calendar.

But there are plenty of "skeuomorphic" aspects to iOS that I never see anyone complain about (and sometimes compliment), like inertial scrolling or sliding on/off switches.

Inertial scrolling is tremendously useful, you can scroll more with fewer swipes.

I don't think it will all go. I think the stuff like faux leather interfaces will though.


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