Apple’s Chief of Design Jony Ive Expands Authority Over Software

Apple Inc.’s chief designer Jony Ive, who Steve Jobs called his “spiritual partner,” is gaining more authority over the look of the company’s products.

Ive is taking full control of the team that designs Apple’s iOS software that powers iPhones and iPads. The move coincides with the retirement of Greg Christie, who led software design.

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has turned to Ive to set the overall design aesthetic for products, from the shape of the iPhone’s hardware to the look of screen icons. Ive’s first major influence on Apple’s software was last year’s introduction of iOS 7, which featured brighter colors and eliminated many of the realistic designs for applications such as wooden bookshelves and leather-bound contact books.

Christie’s software-design team, which had previously reported to software chief Craig Federighi, will now work directly with Ive, the company said. Christie “has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20 years at Apple,” the Cupertino, California-based company said in a statement yesterday.

“He has made vital contributions to Apple products across the board, and built a world-class Human Interface team which has worked closely with Jony for many years,” the company said.

Christie, whose name is on several iPhone patents, testified last week in the company’s current trial against Samsung Electronics Co. His departure was first reported by

Ive, who worked closely with Jobs on products stretching back to the iMac, gained greater control over the look and feel of Apple’s hardware and software after the departure of former software chief Scott Forstall in 2012.

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