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Posts tagged with "design"

The Iconography of Apple Maps

Mercury Intermedia, in a post on Medium, shares its extensive documentation of Apple Maps’ iconography over the years:

A few years ago we published a post examining the point of interest (POI) icons within Apple Maps titled More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Apple’s Spotlight Location Icons. POI icons have existed in Apple Maps since Google was the maps provider. But with iOS 6, Apple took full ownership of Maps and introduced a selectable, color-coded POI system with all new iconography.

We took particular notice of the icons included with iOS 8 when Apple began using larger versions of these icons at the system level as part of their new Spotlight search feature. Apple has continued to iterate on these icons and has made several additions and refinements. With iOS 10 for example, Apple redesigned the Maps app to use the larger POI icon set directly on the map itself. This post will examine how the system has grown and evolved over the past few years.

If you’re interested in design, iconography, or how these things have evolved over time in Apple Maps, the post is a fantastic resource and fun exploration of the little details that make a significant mark on user experience. For example, the article includes quotes from designer Scott Dunlap comparing Apple’s icon changes over the years and what purpose those tweaks served, as well as offering feedback for how Maps’ icon set could stand more improvement, particularly for greater clarity at small sizes.

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Jony Ive to Leave Apple to Form New Design Firm and Sabih Khan Named SVP of Operations

Tim Bradshaw of the Financial Times dropped a bombshell: Jony Ive is leaving Apple to start his own design firm called LoveFrom, and Apple will be its first client. Ive told Bradshaw:

While I will not be an [Apple] employee, I will still be very involved — I hope for many, many years to come,” Sir Jonathan told the FT in an exclusive interview. “This just seems like a natural and gentle time to make this change.

Ive’s transition from his role as Apple Chief Design Officer where he oversees the design of both hardware and software to his new company will begin later this year with LoveFrom launching in 2020. Marc Newson who has collaborated with Ive in the past will join him as part of the LoveFrom design team. In addition to continuing ongoing projects for Apple, Ive told the Financial Times he would work on unspecified ‘personal passions.’

Ive has led Apple’s design team since 1996 and is responsible for the company’s iconic product designs like the iMac, iPod, and iPhone. He also guided the design and construction of Apple Park. In a press release issued by Apple, Tim Cook said:

Jony is a singular figure in the design world and his role in Apple’s revival cannot be overstated, from 1998’s groundbreaking iMac to the iPhone and the unprecedented ambition of Apple Park, where recently he has been putting so much of his energy and care,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Apple will continue to benefit from Jony’s talents by working directly with him on exclusive projects, and through the ongoing work of the brilliant and passionate design team he has built. After so many years working closely together, I’m happy that our relationship continues to evolve and I look forward to working with Jony long into the future.

Apple has not announced a replacement for Ive. Instead, the company’s press release says that design team leaders Evans Hankey, Vice President of Industrial Design, and Alan Dye, Vice President of Human Interface Design, will report to Apple’s Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams. Of the design team, Ive had this to say:

After nearly 30 years and countless projects, I am most proud of the lasting work we have done to create a design team, process and culture at Apple that is without peer. Today it is stronger, more vibrant and more talented than at any point in Apple’s history,” said Ive. “The team will certainly thrive under the excellent leadership of Evans, Alan and Jeff, who have been among my closest collaborators. I have the utmost confidence in my designer colleagues at Apple, who remain my closest friends, and I look forward to working with them for many years to come.


Separately, Apple announced that it has named Sabih Kahn as joined the company’s executive team as Senior Vice President of Operations. In a press release, Apple said that Khan who has been at the company since the mid-90s:

will be in charge of Apple’s global supply chain, ensuring product quality and overseeing planning, procurement, manufacturing, logistics and product fulfillment functions, as well as Apple’s supplier responsibility programs that protect and educate workers at production facilities around the world.

According to Apple CEO Tim Cook and Williams:

Sabih leads our Ops team with heart,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “He and his entire worldwide team are committed to delivering unmatched experiences to our customers, treating workers everywhere with dignity and respect, and protecting the environment for future generations.

I’ve been privileged to work with Sabih for more than 20 years, and you won’t find a more talented operations executive anywhere on the planet,” said Williams. “He is a world-class leader and collaborator, and I have no doubt that he will be the best leader of the Ops team in Apple’s history.

This is a surprising turn of events. Ive will continue to work with Apple, but it clearly won’t be his sole focus anymore. He’s left a lasting imprint on Apple over the course of almost three decades and is leaving behind design team led by Apple veterans, which leaves the company in good hands. Still, it’s a shame to see Ive go.

The addition of Kahn to the leadership team who, along with the company’s two design leads, will report to Jeff Williams is interesting too. I wouldn’t be surprised if Williams is being groomed to take over as CEO someday.


Designing a Dark Theme for OLED iPhones

Vidit Bhargava, UI designer for the excellent LookUp dictionary app, details in a Medium post how implementing an OLED-friendly dark theme in an app is more complicated than one might think. For example:

When an interface that uses a black theme for its background starts displaying content on the screen, the pixels needs to switch on before they can display the content. So, when you’re scrolling through the content in a black background, the pixels find it hard to keep pace with your scrolling, resulting in a smear on the screen.

Bhargava uses the following tweet from Marc Edwards to illustrate this smearing issue.

The solution utilized in LookUp was making its black theme not entirely black, but a dark enough grey that it appears black in use.

The rest of the post outlines the impact of black, dark grey, and white themes on a device’s battery life, along with the readability challenges inherent to black themes. It’s a fascinating read, and goes to show that a quality OLED-optimized dark theme requires a lot of thought and care to achieve.

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An Interview with Khoi Vinh, Principal Designer at Adobe

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to sit down with Khoi Vinh, Principal Designer at Adobe who leads its Design Practices group and author of Subtraction.com. Vinh, who was in Chicago to speak at the HOW Design Live conference, talks about how Adobe is using Adobe XD to integrate UX and UI design and prototyping into the product creation process for everyone from freelancers to big companies. He also discusses designers’ role in addressing the problems social media is facing, how artificial intelligence is beginning to play a role in design, and his podcast, Wireframe.

(The following has been condensed and edited for readability.)

Tell me a little bit about what you’re working on at Adobe these days.

Adobe XD is one of the main priorities at Adobe. We’re really passionate about the experience design space; really passionate about how product designers, UX/UI designers, they’re really kind of leading the way for how professional creativity is changing and XD is more than just an app, it’s a platform to help us build what designers need. So we see it as more than just a design app. It’s also prototyping and sharing, and so it’s really meant to help designers, and also the people who work with them, get more value out of the design process and be more productive in general.

Read more


Jony Ive Reflects on the Design of the New iPad Pros, Apple Pencil, and MacBook Air in a New Interview

Jony Ive, Apple’s Chief Design Officer, sat for an interview with David Phelan of The Independent to talk about designing Apple products in general and the new iPad Pros, Apple Pencil, and MacBook Air in particular.

On redesigning successful products Ive said:

Because when a product has been highly regarded there is often a desire from people to see it redesigned. I think one of the most important things is that you change something not to make it different but to make it better.

If you are making changes that are in the service of making something better, then you don’t need to convince people to fall in love with it again. Our sense of habit and familiarity with something is so developed, there is always that initial reaction that is more of a comment on something being different rather than necessarily better or worse. In my experience, if we try very hard to make material improvements, people quickly recognise those and make the sort of connection they had before with the product.

Ive also revealed that the original iPad was designed to be used primarily in a portrait orientation, while the new iPad Pros have no orientation:

So, in the new iPad Pro, one of the things we’ve been wanting to get to for a long time is a sense that the product is not oriented in a primary and then, therefore, in a secondary way.

The first iPad had a very clear orientation which was portrait. It had the ability to be used in landscape, I think very well, but it was pretty clear how the product was designed. And I think with the first iPad you had the sense that it was a product made up of distinct and somewhat separate components.

What I think marks the new iPad Pro as particularly special is it doesn’t have an orientation. It has speakers all the way around the perimeter. By getting rid of the Home Button and developing Face ID, the tablet is able to work in all of these different orientations.

On the Apple Pencil, Ive describes how its design abstracts away the underlying technical complexity to focus the user on the task at hand:

I think the way it just snaps onto the side, well, that’s a nice example of a sort of that magical feeling. It’s unexpected, we don’t quite understand how it’s working and even more incomprehensible is the fact that it’s also charging. You can see how that’s aligned with this idea that you can just pick the product up and use it without thought.

Actually, you’re using it with tremendous thought, but it’s based on what you want to be doing rather than wondering if you’re holding the tablet the right way up.

Phelan’s interview is full of many other wonderful insights and tidbits about the products Apple revealed earlier this week in New York and should be read in its entirety.

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Apple Adds Videos to Developer Portal Featuring the New iPad Pro and Pencil

To help developers take advantage of the latest features of the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, Apple has posted two new videos to its developer portal. Even if you aren’t a developer though, the videos include interesting insights on some of the unique features of the new iPad Pros.

The videos cover development and design issues that should be considered when adapting apps to the new iPad Pros like using safe area insets to avoid crowding content into the rounded corners or under the home indicator. Another consideration to take into account is that unlike the previous iPads, the 11” iPad Pro doesn’t have a 4:3 aspect ratio, which means apps hard-coded to those dimensions will have areas cut off at the top and bottom.

Also, apps that don’t link against the iOS 12.1 SDK will run in a compatibility mode when multi-tasking, which will add an inset at the top and bottom of the screen for both apps instead of running them fullscreen. Apple says that making sure iPad apps can handle the inset compatibility mode will also help with bringing iOS apps to the Mac in 2019.

The Apple Pencil has a set of default double-tap settings that we covered in our iPad overview, but developers have the option to customize the double tap action in their apps. Apple also encourages developers not to hide functionality behind the gesture or turn custom actions on by default.

The videos cover the iPad Pro’s new USB-C connector too. The iPad Pro supports HDR 4K up to 60Hz and external displays up to 5K as well as USB audio devices, Ethernet, and MIDI. The iPad Pro can also send simultaneous USB-C outputs, which permits uses like connecting a DSLR Camera and 5K display to the iPad Pro at the same time.

The new videos are available as part of Apple’s Tech Talk series.


You can also follow all of our Apple event coverage through our October 30, 2018 hub, or subscribe to the dedicated October 30, 2018 RSS feed.

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Creative Selection Delves into Apple Software Design with Stories about Safari, the iPhone, and the iPad

Today, former Apple engineer Ken Kocienda’s book Creative Selection, which covers his career at Apple and insights about the company’s software design process, was released. As an engineer at Apple, Kocienda worked on several high-profile projects including Safari on the Mac and the touch keyboards on the iPhone and iPad. Much of the publicity surrounding the book focuses on Kocienda’s work on the iPhone. However, there is a treasure trove of interesting anecdotes about other products and people that make Creative Selection an absorbing read for anyone interested in the creative process and Apple.

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Affinity Publisher Beta for Mac Available

Serif, the maker of Affinity Photo and Designer, announced the launch of a public beta for Affinity Publisher, a desktop publishing app that it is developing for the Mac and Windows. In a press release today, Serif says that the feature set will include:

  • Advanced typography
  • Linked text frames
  • Master pages
  • Facing page spreads
  • Dynamic photo frames
  • Tables
  • Baseline grids
  • Linked resources
  • End-to-end CMYK

Of course, Serif cautions that it is not ready to use in production work, but you can download the app from Affinity’s website and take it for a spin to get a sense for what is coming and provide input to Serif. The final product is expected to ship in ‘a few months’ according to the Publisher preview webpage.

In addition to the signup page, Serif has published a series of 16 short video tutorials explaining the basic functionality of the app. There is also a sample brochure you can download to use as a playground for experimenting with the app’s features.

From my initial look at the beta and tutorials, Publisher is an ambitious effort to build an integrated suite of creative apps by leveraging Affinity Photo and Designer, which will be accessible directly from within Publisher. Those integrations are not yet available in the beta but will be activated in a later build.

It’s been interesting to watch Serif invade an app category, in which Adobe has been the dominant player for so long, with sophisticated but cost-effective alternatives that suit the needs of many users. Publisher looks like an app that could round out the Affinity suite of apps nicely, making the trio of apps appealing to an even greater audience.


Apple Releases New App Design Resources for the Mac and Apple Watch

As tweeted by Mike Stern, Apple’s Platform Experience and Design Evangelism Manager, Apple has updated its AppKit design resources with a comprehensive set of UI elements for making Mac apps. The UI elements come in both Aqua and the Dark Aqua variants for designing Dark Mode Mac apps.

The update, also announced on Apple’s developer news website, includes new watchOS UI elements too, including ‘dozens of new UI elements for watchOS apps, watch face templates for designing complications, a color guide, and new text styles.’

The design assets are available to download in both Photoshop and Sketch formats from the Resources section of Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines website. A full list of all the changes is available here.