Apple's Jony Ive pushing for 'flatter design' for iOS 7, report says

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple's hardware and software teams are improving collaboration

Apple's design chief Jony Ive is pushing for a "flatter design" for iOS 7, according to a new report.

The Wall Street Journal's Jessica Lessin cites developers who claim to have spoken to people inside Apple in her report, which suggests Apple's design team is getting closer now that "some walls have come down."

Following an executive shakeup in October that saw then head of iOS software Scott Forstall leave the company, Ive has taken on more responsibilities, as the leader of human interface at Apple. This means that, as well as hardware design leadership, Ive now has more involvement with the design of iOS and other Apple platforms.

Ive's promotion sparked speculation that Apple may be considering dropping its skeuomorphic design elements in favour of a cleaner, more minimalist design, and WSJ's new report indicates that these rumours were correct.

The report claims that Ive now attends the human interface team's regular review sessions at Apple, to take a look at and give input into new software designs. Previously, those working on Apple's iOS may not have known details of upcoming mobile devices that would support the operating system. Now that Ive is in charge of both hardware and software design, though, the human interface team is being briefed about industrial prototypes earlier, the sources claim.

While the sources said that Ive is pushing for a more "flat design" that is "starker and simpler," for iOS 7, (expected to be the operating system that Apple's iPhone 6 will ship with), they also said that they expect the changes to be "pretty conservative," for now, says the report.

During October's executive shakeup, Craig Federighi became senior vice president of software engineering, who oversees the development of both iOS and Mac OS X. This change means that the Mac OS X and iOS teams are becoming more united.

Apple CEO Tim Cook explained in an interview in December that his aim with the shakeup was to encourage such collaboration. "The key in the change that you're referencing is my deep belief that collaboration is essential for innovation," he said. "It's always been a core belief at Apple. Steve [Jobs] very deeply believed in this."

According WSJ's sources, Federighi wants to keep the Mac and iOS engineering teams separate at the moment, but there are lots of overlaps between the two groups, which could eventually lead to a merging of the teams. One source said that some employees expect to see a reorganisation of the two teams this summer. SEE: Apple's hire of Adobe CTO foretells move toward iOS-OS X hybrids

Perhaps the first evidence that Ive really is planning to push Forstall's skeuomorphic designs out of iOS is the Podcasts app's update on Thursday, which ditches the 'tape deck' user interface in favour of a simple, easier to use design.

See also:

Ex Apple CEO Sculley thinks Jony Ive will notice 'next big thing'

Tempting new Apple iOS 7 concept videos emerge

Apple warns 'we will reject apps that aren't iPhone 5, Retina ready, use UDID'

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Ashleigh Allsopp

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