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Posts tagged with "design"

Aquarelo: A Beautifully-Designed Mac Color Utility

There are a seemingly endless number of ways to represent colors. Whether you’re a professional designer or developer, or someone who just wants to update a website template, you’ve undoubtedly come across several. The trouble with so many different formats is that it guarantees that at some point, the color value you have won’t be the one you require. Aquarelo is a beautifully-designed new Mac app that cuts through the thicket of formats to help you find the colors you want and convert them to the format you need.

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On Ive’s Return to Design Team Management

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and Alex Webb reported yesterday on a change in Apple's design team, confirmed by Apple PR with a statement:

Apple Inc.’s Jony Ive, a key executive credited with the look of many of the company’s most popular products, has re-taken direct management of product design teams.

Ive, 50, was named Apple’s chief design officer in 2015 and subsequently handed off some day-to-day management responsibility while the iPhone maker was building its new Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino, California. “With the completion of Apple Park, Apple’s design leaders and teams are again reporting directly to Jony Ive, who remains focused purely on design,” Amy Bessette, a company spokeswoman, said Friday in a statement.

I don't know what to think about this. I never assumed Ive would leave Apple after Apple Park was completed. From the outside, we can only infer that his return to managing the design team is important enough for Apple to issue an official statement and remove Design VPs Dye and Howarth from the Leadership page.

Benjamin Mayo also raises a good point:

It’s hard to parse what this means because nobody on the outside really has a good idea of what the title change two years ago meant. Jony Ive’s elevation to Chief Design Officer felt like the first steps to his retirement with Howarth and Dye taking up the posts of lead hardware and software design.

Yet, Apple never tipped its hand that Ive was on the way out. I expected Howarth and Dye to slowly start appearing in keynote presentation videos, in interviews, and new product marketing. Ive would slowly fade from relevance in Apple’s public relations before he left for real. That simply didn’t happen. If anything, Ive became even more intertwined into Apple’s public image. He has done countless interviews and photo shoots in the intervening years.

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Jony Ive and an Apple Park Architectural Lead on Apple’s New Headquarters and Design

Wallpaper Magazine’s Nick Compton has an extensive interview with Foster + Partners’ Stefan Behling, one of the lead architects of Apple Park, and Apple’s Chief Design Officer, Jony Ive. There are a lot of great details about Apple Park and the Steve Jobs Theater in the article, including this from Behling on constructing a roof on the theater that appears to hover in space:

A network of 44 conduits, carrying electricity, data and sprinkler systems, is housed in three-quarter-inch strips of aluminium in-between the theatre’s glass surrounds. The carbon-fibre roof, tested, built and unbuilt in Dubai, was made the same way you make the hulls of racing yachts and weighs just 80 tons. ‘This is the first time in the history of mankind that this has been done,’ says Behling. ‘It’s the biggest carbon-fibre roof of its kind in the world. If you are serious about achieving something like this, and making it look effortless, you have to go all out. And that does mean doing something that has never been done before.’

Jony Ive has a lot to say about Apple Park too. In response to criticism that the building isn’t sufficiently configurable he says:

Our building is very configurable and you can very quickly create large open spaces or you can configure lots of smaller private offices. The building will change and it will evolve. And I’m sure in 20 years’ time we will be designing and developing very different products, and just that alone will drive the campus to evolve and change. And actually, I’m much more interested in being able to see the landscape, that is a much more important capability.’

Ive also talks about Apple’s design philosophy in general noting that his team's goal is to ‘get design out of the way.’ However, my favorite part of the interview is Ive’s insight that with every new product, two are actually created:

‘When I look back over the last 25 years, in some ways what seems most precious is not what we have made but how we have made it and what we have learned as a consequence of that,’ he says. ‘I always think that there are two products at the end of a programme; there is the physical product or the service, the thing that you have managed to make, and then there is all that you have learned. The power of what you have learned enables you to do the next thing and it enables you to do the next thing better.

Wallpaper’s interview is a must-read for anyone intrigued by Apple Park and Apple’s approach to design.

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Pixelmator Pro Announced

Just before WWDC, the Pixelmator team teased a Mac app they’ve been working on for five years. The big reveal came today with an announcement that Pixelmator Pro will be joining the Pixelmator family of image editing apps this fall. Reimagined and rebuilt from the ground up, Pixelmator Pro promises a whole new level of power and ease-of-use.

According to the announcement:

“Pixelmator Pro provides every tool you could ever need to create, edit, and enhance your images on a Mac in an incredibly intuitive and accessible interface”, said Saulius Dailide, one of the founders of the Pixelmator Team. “And with its GPU-powered, machine learning-enhanced tools, it’s truly one of the most advanced and innovative image editing apps on the planet.”

I haven’t tried Pixelmator Pro yet, but judging from the announcement, I expect we’re in for a treat. The most noticeable thing about the new app is its striking UI. Gone are the floating toolbars, replaced by left and right-hand side panels that fade into the background, so the image you’re working on dominates your workspace. I like the one window approach a lot, if for no other reason than I know exactly where my tools are at all times. The combination of a minimalistic toolbar, sparse chrome around the panels, use of transparency, dark interface, and ability to hide UI elements give Pixelmator Pro an expansive feel that emphasizes the image in your workspace instead of the tools.

The changes announced go much deeper than just a redesign, though. The Pixelmator team has taken the opportunity to incorporate the latest Apple technologies and harness Machine Learning. Pixelmator Pro’s editor takes advantage of a Mac’s GPU using Metal 2, the graphics framework announced at WWDC that will debut with macOS X High Sierra. CoreML, also announced at WWDC, will drive much of Pixelmator Pro’s editing engine according to the announcement. There’s also support for the new HEIF image file format.

Also, editing in Pixelmator Pro will be non-destructive:

Pixelmator Pro’s color adjustments, effects, styles, and layouting tools are completely nondestructive, giving users the freedom and flexibility to go back and modify or delete individual changes at any point in the editing workflow. Thanks to the new presets feature, you can create endless combinations of multiple adjustments, effects, or styles, save them to your favorites and reuse them in any of your images. Drag-and-drop sharing also makes it a breeze to share presets with others.

I expect the ability to share combinations of effects, styles, and adjustments will be especially popular.

Pixelmator Pro will be available exclusively from the Mac App Store this fall alongside the current Pixelmator app.


Reach Navigation

Brad Ellis has some interesting ideas and examples on how Apple could shift the iOS interface from top-oriented navigation bars to thumb-friendly cards and sheets sitting towards the bottom of the screen:

The navbar has been essential part of iOS since Apple released the first developer kit, and it has served us well. But it’s time to let go.

Let’s agree to stop sticking important buttons to the top of the screen. Better navigation is within reach.

I think Ellis is onto something here. After Apple Music and Apple Maps in iOS 10, I'd be surprised if we don't get more of these "reach navigation" redesigns in iOS 11 (which would also make sense if Apple is releasing an iPhone with a taller screen later this year).

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Apple Updates iOS App Design Resources

Apple has updated its iOS design resources with a comprehensive set of colors, guides, templates, and UI elements:

Creating iOS apps is even easier with the updated Apple UI Design Resources. Use the latest Sketch and Photoshop templates and guides, color palettes, and the San Francisco typeface to quickly and accurately design iOS apps that integrate seamlessly into the overall user experience of iOS.

The design assets are available to download in both Photoshop and Sketch formats on Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines website. In addition to the new assets, Apple has four videos covering the materials, an overview with User Experience Evangelist, Mike Stern, as well as videos covering design comps, icons, and glyphs, also narrated by Stern.


‘Designed by Apple in California’ Brought to Life

Stephen Hackett of 512 Pixels has created a beautiful video dubbed "Designed by Apple in California" Book: With Acutal Products, showcasing a wide variety of the hardware in Apple’s new book, Designed by Apple in California. Hackett, who owns an extensive collection of Apple hardware, filmed the gear side-by-side with the photographs in Apple’s book, bringing it to life in a way that the photos alone cannot.

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More from Jony Ive on Designed by Apple in California

Jony Ive was interviewed by design website Wallpaper about Designed by Apple in California, an Apple-published book of photography that documents twenty years of product design and manufacturing. Apple is known for its singular focus on the future and, during Steve Jobs’ tenure, its disdain for dwelling on the past. That has begun to change in recent years with things like its 40 Years in 40 Seconds video and its tribute to past laptops at the MacBook Pro event last month. Even so, Apple’s announcement of an expensive book about its own products caught some off guard. In response to Wallpaper, Ive addressed why Apple created Designed by Apple in California:

Sometimes if we are struggling with a particular issue then that gives us reason to go back and look at the way we have solved problems in the past. But because we've been so consumed by our current and future work we came to realise we didn't have a catalogue of the physical products. So about eight years ago we felt an obligation to address this and build an objective archive.

Beyond chronicling the design of Apple’s past products, Ive explains that Apple wants to illuminate the connection between designing and making a product and provide a resource for design students:

One of the things we wanted to do was try and explain as clearly as we can – through photography – how you transform a raw material into a product that you recognise and hopefully use as a daily tool…. We feel that more than ever there has been a disconnect between designing and making and really, you can't disconnect them. In the 90s, as manufacturing was outsourced, this chasm developed between where something was made and where it was designed. But designing and making are inseparable if you want the ultimate product to have integrity. Another key point is that the book is being sent to all the major design colleges in the world. We are keen to get it into the hands of young people who are studying design disciplines. It's very important that it’s an educational resource as well.

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Jony Ive Discusses Apple’s Design Process and New Book

Earlier today, Apple announced Designed by Apple in California, a coffee table book featuring photography of its products and design process that goes on sale tomorrow. In connection with announcement, Jony Ive was interviewed by Japanese design website Casa Brutus. Ive describes the motivation behind the creation of Designed by Apple in California, but also has a lot to say about Apple's design process. My favorite part is at the beginning of the video where Ive describes how his team nurtures ideas:

One of the things that we've learned is the importance of listening. Because as we all know, the very best ideas can very often come from the quietest voice. Ideas are extremely fragile. Ideas are not predictable in terms of when you'll have them and how many you are going to have. And so over the years, we've really created at team and an environment that I think really increases the probability of good ideas and when they actually arrive I think nurtures them.

As Ive speaks, the video shows designers at work in Apple's studio creating prototypes of Macs, iPhones, and other items. If you are interested in design or the creative process in general, this is a must-watch video.