Take a peek inside secret Apple Industrial Design studio

Take a peek inside Jony Ive's design lab.

Very few outsiders have been inside Apple’s Industrial Design Studio, the amazingly creative product lab behind the company’s blockbuster hardware.

That may change this weekend, when 60 Minutes broadcasts a tour of the design lab. Apple’s lead designer, Jony Ive, gave journalist Charlie Rose a peek at the facility earlier this year — and his report airs this Sunday.

But you can take a tour of Apple’s secret Industrial Design studio right now. A virtual one, anyway.

I had a 3-D model of the studio created, based on detailed descriptions and diagrams by former designers who worked inside. I used it to create a video tour of the studio, showing the layout and explaining how everything works. I think the video turned out great. You can see it below.

Inside Apple's secret industrial design studio.

Located on the ground floor of Infinite Loop II behind frosted glass windows, the industrial design studio is where Ive and his team of design elves cook up Apple’s awesome products.

The studio is strictly off-limits to most. It’s perhaps the most secret part of Apple’s HQ. Even some of Apple’s own executives haven’t seen it. Rumor has it that the former head of iOS, Scott Forstall, wasn’t allowed inside, even when he was developing the iPhone’s operating system.

Only one published photograph has ever been taken inside the studio. And no, Blue Peter and the Objectified documentary weren’t filmed there, contrary to popular belief.

In the video below, you’ll see the layout of the studio; the kitchen where the designers frequently meet; the presentation tables where Apple executives discuss upcoming products; Jony Ive’s private glass office; and the machine shop that cranks out prototypes.

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Short and sweet: All the new magical stuff from Apple’s big event.

Apple and Cook have plenty to cheer about.

From the iPhone to the iPad to the Apple TV, Cupertino’s constellation of magical devices just got a little more magical.

Did you expect all that Apple goodness? Most of what we heard today already churned through the rumor mill: the plus-size iPad Pro; new Apple Watch finishes and bands; a refreshed Apple TV with games, apps and Siri functionality. And, oh yeah, the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus with a whole new level of Force Touch, called 3D Touch.

There were even a few surprises, like the iPad Pro’s new Smart Keyboard and the iPad stylus, dubbed the Apple Pencil. But throughout today’s keynote by Tim Cook and his lieutenants, the series of under-the-hood upgrades they revealed promise to push all Apple products forward into the future.

Let’s take a moment to boil down all two hours and 10 minutes of this incredibly dense and surprisingly succinct Apple event.

Apple Watch gets more fashionable

More colors, more bands.

The Apple Watch got more watch bands, including some great leather ones from third-party makers. In addition, two new aluminum Sport models will be available in rose gold and regular gold colors. With the extra finishes, and a selection of bands that are both bolder and more subtle, you’ll be able to really customize the look of your Apple Watch.The new watchOS 2 allows an unprecedented amount of direct control via apps, like the demoed Facebook Messenger, iTranslate (real-time language translation right on the Apple Watch), a GoPro watch app that functions as a viewfinder, and a new medical app that shows live heart-rate stats for everyone, including pregnant mothers and their babies.

iPad goes pro

Amazing price point for such a massive upgrade.

The iPad Pro was as sexy as anticipated, with a 12.9-inch screen so large that you can set the screen of an iPad Air 2 in portrait across the left-hand side of an iPad Pro in landscape. There are 2,732 by 2,048 pixels for a total of 5.6 million, delivering more pixels than even a 15-inch Macbook Pro with Retina Display. There’s an A9X chip inside, which is 1.8 times faster than the previous chip in the iPad Air 2.“This is desktop-class performance,” said Phil Schiller.

iPad accessories: Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard

Not sure of that name, but I'm sure we'll all get used to it.

There’s a new stylus in town and it’s called the Apple Pencil. Priced at $99, it uses Force data to become the best drawing tool you’ve ever used with an iPad. Apple Pencil might be a goofy name, even a bit pretentious, but it looks amazing: It’s powered by its own built-in Lightning port, just under where the eraser would be on a regular pencil.

A new Smart Keyboard for the iPad Pro will be powered by a little Smart Port (meaning you can say goodbye to Bluetooth pairing woes). It will cost $169.

Apple TV disrupts the living room

Want. Now.

The new Apple TV, available in October of this year, will cost you $149 for a version with 32GB of flash storage or $199 for a 64G version. It will have its own App Store and a new touch- and voice-enabled remote with an accelerometer and gyroscope, which make Wii-style games a reality on Apple’s set-top box. Looking for a gaming console for your kids? Why not get a $150 one that does what Nintendo’s does?Universal search ensures you’ll never have to jump into Netflix, Hulu, HBO or Showtime to find what you want to see again: Siri will look across multiple services and apps to get you to what you want. The future of TV is in those very apps, and we saw some amazing demos of the actual user interface itself (love those shaky new icons). Games like Crossy Road and Beat Sports, a new MLB experience, and a discount shopping app from Gilt mean new experiences on your big screen. Based on iOS, tvOS will power all these new apps, and it’s available for developers now.

iPhone 6s and 6s Plus: better, faster

Pretty in pink. I mean Rose Gold.

We knew iPhone upgrades would be announced at this event, but we were taken a bit aback by the possibilities when Phil Schiller showed off the new touch system, 3D Touch, which will add another bit of pressure sensitivity. Now you can tap, press lightly or press hard to get different effects. On the Home screen, you’ll get new contextual menus, like “take a selfie” on the Camera app icon.There’s a new A9 chip on the iPhone 6s handsets, with a built-in, always-on M9 chip. With the new phones, you’ll be able to say, “Hey Siri,” whenever you want — whether the phone is plugged in or not. She’s always available, and, as Schiller said, “Siri’s definitely sassy.”

Apple’s taking another path with purchasing these new devices, too, offering its own pricing plan that competes with the carrier’s own. For $32 a month, jsut a bit more than, say, AT&T’s own plan, you get the iPhone 6s, an annual upgrade, and Apple Care+, something you won’t find at your carrier.

Jony Ive will have an even bigger influence over Apple’s image in new design role.

Alan Dye, Jony Ive, and Richard Howarth.

Jony Ive received a nice gift for the Memorial Day weekend: a promotion to the role of Chief Design Officer at Apple, which will broaden his design duties at Apple while handing day-to-day running of the design team to long-time Apple employees Alan Dye and Richard Howarth.

Congrats, Jony!

Alan Dye will serve as Apple’s new vice president of User Interface Design and Richard Howarth will take over as new vice president of Industrial Design. Ive took over control of User Interface after the firing of Scott Forstall in late 2012. The new jobs go into effect July 1.

In a note to Apple employees Tim Cook wrote that:

“Jony is one of the most talented and accomplished designers of his generation, with an astonishing 5000 design and utility patents to his name. His new role is a reflection of the scope of work he has been doing at Apple for some time. Jony’s design responsibilities have expanded from hardware and, more recently, software UI to the look and feel of Apple retail stores, our new campus in Cupertino, product packaging and many other parts of our company.”

Interestingly, a more hands-on role with the look and feel of the Apple Stores (among other areas) seems to be a big part of Ive’s new focus. In an accompanying interview for the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper, long-time Apple fan Stephen Fry, the following exchange reveals a bit about Jony’s thought process regarding his new job:

When I catch up with Ive alone, I ask him why he has seemingly relinquished the two departments that had been so successfully under his control. “Well, I’m still in charge of both,” he says, “I am called Chief Design Officer. Having Alan and Richard in place frees me up from some of the administrative and management work which isn’t … which isn’t …”

“Which isn’t what you were put on this planet to do?”

“Exactly. Those two are as good as it gets. Richard was lead on the iPhone from the start. He saw it all the way through from prototypes to the first model we released. Alan has a genius for human interface design. So much of the Apple Watch’s operating system came from him. With those two in place I can …”

I could feel him avoiding the phrase “blue sky thinking”… think more freely?”

“Yes!”

Jony will travel more, he told me. Among other things, he will bring his energies to bear – as he has already since their inception – on the Apple Stores that are proliferating around the world.

Title-wise (and presumably in terms of pay?) it’s another step up for Jony, who is almost certainly the single most important person to Apple’s success here in 2015.

I’ve already seen a few people on Twitter worried that this is about Jony phasing himself out at Apple by setting up replacements. I don’t buy that for a second. Although Jony may be stepping away from the day-to-day running of his design team, it looks more like Jony is headed in the direction Steve Jobs was during his last few years at Apple. That means leaving the more managerial aspects of Apple to someone else, while focusing on the future “next big thing” for the company.

At a time when Apple is in the middle of unveiling (in the words of Eddy Cue) its most exciting product pipeline in a quarter-century, it’s the perfect time for him to make the move!

This is what new Star Wars droid BB-8 would look like in space gray.

What if Jony Ive designed BB-8? Photo: Martin Hajek

With its roly-poly looks and infectious personality, new droid BB-8 looks primed to be a real scene-stealer when Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters at the end of the year.

And now we know what the ballsy little bot would look like if Jony Ive replaced its orange-and-white color scheme with something a little more subtle.

The iDroid's iPhone 6-like styling is complemented by a light-up Apple logo. Photo: Martin Hajek

The iDroid concept art comes from forward-looking designer Martin Hajek, who has produced tons of Apple-inspired concept art in the past (including an Apple-ized lightsaber).

Writes Hajek on his blog unveiling his new BB-8 renders:

Introducing: iBB-A
With built in projector and circular touch-screen interface, it will be available in silver, gold and (of course) space-grey!

Want to have a go at designing your own droid? You can download the super-detailed 3D model of the BB-8.

While director J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens won’t premiere till December 18, the movie’s lovable new droid is already a fan favorite. There’s even a DIY project for making your own iPhone-controlled BB-8 model.

Now Hajek has shown how Apple design chief Jony Ive’s stylistic influences — which really did help shape The Force Awakens’ spitty new lightsaber — might look on sci-fi’s peppiest new droid.

As usual, Hajek makes his 3-D model available (for a price).

So, if you were in the market to buy a used BB-8 from some nasty little Jawas, which model would you get? Old-school orange-and-white? Or Apple-tastic silver, gold or space gray?

The hologram on top of the gold iDroid is a nice touch. Photo: Martin Hajek

Apple’s Jony Ive reveals Apple Watch w/ exclusive collection of Sport band colors at Milan Design Week.

Apple’s PR tour for the Apple Watch doesn’t appear to be slowing down with Apple’s design chief Jony Ive showing off the device and revealing an exclusive collection of never before seen Sport band colors tonight in Milan. Apple this morning kicked off a showcase of the device at Milan’s Salone Del Mobile Design Fair in Itlay, which was attended by Apple executives including marketing head Phil Schiller and designer Marc Newson.

Earlier today, images emerged of a red Sport band, and now Apple appears to be showing off several more exclusive Sport bands at tonight’s event in Italy. An image posted to Instagram shows dark blue, light pink, red, and yellow Sport bands. All of these colors were previously unreleased by Apple and never before seen. At the Design Week event in Milan, Apple is allowing invitees to try-on the Watch and use it with a band of their choosing. Designer Karl Lagerfeld was seen with an Apple Watch paired with a gold link bracelet earlier this week, although it’s not confirmed if the band was designed by Apple.

Attendees of the event were invited by Apple design Marc Newson, who joined the company in late 2014. A gallery of images from the event can be seen below (via Umberta Gnutti Beretta). Apple is holding similar pop-up store events in Paris, London, and Tokyo. It’s worth noting that Italy, where the Milan Design Week events are being held, is not a launch market for the Apple Watch, but an important one in the fashion world.

Jony Ive praises Airbnb as ‘soaringly ambitious’ startup.

airbnb

As part of Time’s 100 Most Influential People, Jony Ive penned a short essay praising Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky for creating a “remarkable startup.”

“The service that Brian and his partners imagined is soaringly ambitious and utterly practical,” said Ive, who didn’t make Time’s list himself this year.

“Bringing people together is something of a passion for Brian, and with Airbnb he’s helped create millions of personal connections. That’s an achievement that even the best hotels in the world should envy.”

Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, also wrote a glowing essay on Hilary Clinton, who fell under the “Leaders” part of the list. “She is revolutionary. Not radical, but revolutionary: the distinction is crucial. She is one of America’s greatest modern creations.”

Time named Apple CEO Tim Cook one of the top five industry “Titans” for the year, and civil rights leader John Lewis said he is “setting a new standard for what business can do in the world.”

The first Apple Watch was an iPhone with a Velcro strap.

Photo:

The Apple Watch was created under crazy, sleep-deprived conditions, with its first working prototype being an iPhone strapped to the wrist with a Velcro strap, and the Digital Crown represented by a custom dongle plugged into the bottom of the phone via the headphone jack.

Those are a couple of the revelations from a new in-depth article, reporting on the creation of Apple’s eagerly anticipated wearable device.

Published by Wired, the article draws on authorized interviews with several members of the Apple Watch team we’ve not heard from before — including technology VP Kevin Lynch and human interface group head Alan Dye.

Among other claims, it is reported that people in the Apple design studio are encouraged to work crazy hours since this is when people are supposedly at their most creative and fearless.

“So it went in the Apple design studio: As the team worked away on app-launch animations and the new iOS 7 Control Center, daytime conversations about smartphone software led to late-night discussions about other devices. Questions started coalescing around the idea of a watch: What could it add to people’s lives? What new things could you do with a device that you wear? Around this time, Ive began a deep investigation of horology, studying how reading the position of the sun evolved into clocks, which evolved into watches. Horology became an obsession. That obsession became a product.”

It also reveals that among the early Apple Watch experiments was one from the iPod team based on a click wheel concept, and that a chief software concept was that “An interaction [with the Watch] could last only five seconds, 10 at most.”

An early (abandoned) version of the software reportedly took the form of a timeline, which presented information chronologically from top to bottom rather than trying to cut down on the amount of information that is shown.

One other intriguing tidbit comes when the author is describing the Taptic Engine and how it uses different vibrations to indicate different types of notifications. Designers and engineers reportedly sampled the sounds of everything “from bell clappers and birds to lightsabers” and then attempted to turn these sounds into physical sensations.

It’s a fascinating revelation — and it’s not the first time in 2015 we’ve heard Apple and “lightsabers” in the same story. An earlier news item claimed that Jony Ive is the man responsible for the new “spittier” look of the lightsabers for the upcoming Star Wars movie.

You can read Wired‘s article here. It’s definitely interesting — not least because it tells the software side of the Apple Watch story instead of the Ive-centric angle focused on in a recent New Yorker article.

It’s also further evidence of how Apple is happy to open up a bit more about its product development process, something that would have never happened during the Steve Jobs days.