Why Firing Scott Forstall Means iOS Will Get A Lot Better

Why Firing Scott Forstall Means iOS Will Get A Lot Better

It may seem that getting rid of Scott Forstall is a bad thing. He was, after all, the major architect of Apple’s most successful software: iOS, the software that runs the iPhone and iPad.

It’s actually a very good thing, and it means your iPhone is about to get a whole lot better.

Over the last 12 months Tim Cook has been molding Apple into his own company. He’s already changed the way Apple approaches working conditions in China, environmental issues, and charitable contributions.

And now the he’s just announced two huge firings that have his fingerprints all over it — in a great way.

Everyone knew that the head of retail, John Browett, wouldn’t last long. He’s been screwing up since he took the job less than a year ago. But the firing of Scott Forstall comes as a shocker. Forstall was a disciple of Steve Jobs. They were together back in the NeXT days, and some even thought Forstall may be the one to take over as CEO after Tim Cook is gone.

Forstall’s firing sounds like bad news for Apple’s future, but Forstall leaving Apple is probably a really great thing for Apple and iPhone fans because it gives Jony Ive more power.

Accompanying the announcement of Forstall’s exit is the news that Sir Jonathan Ive, the head of industrial design, will take on a new role as leader of Human Interface design across the company. Ive will now be in charge of product interfaces in both hardware and software. Not only will Ive have the power to tell the iOS dev teams that a certain app looks like crap, but he will also be coming up with new ideas on how to make it better.

For the last few years Forstall and the iOS software team have relied heavily on skeuomorphic design. Rather than clean, minimalist interfaces, iOS users have been subjected to hideous leather calendar apps, woodgrain backgrounds, felt gaming table interfaces, and other elements that try to mimic real-life objects.

Maybe you like skeuomorphisism. That’s fine. Skeuomorphisism isn’t evil, but Apple’s execution of it throughout iOS has been inconsistent. Apple’s UI has been slipping just a little bit over the past few years and Forstall is mostly to blame.

Jony Ive has an amazing talent when it comes to designing gadgets that are both highly functional and intimate. He brought us the iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPad mini, MacBook, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro with Retina display, and so many other beautiful pieces of Apple hardware. During that period, Ive never had control over how the software looked on his sexy devices – and yes, a computer can be sexy, just ask Mr. Ive.

If you lust after the hardware, just imagine what Ive could do with software. “His incredible design aesthetic has been the driving force behind the look and feel of Apple’s products for more than a decade,” said Cook in the press release.

Obviously, Ive doesn’t even have to design software from scratch. He just has to provide the iOS team with better guidance towards design that makes sense. Ive’s talent is his ability to deeply analyze an object and understand its most essential elements. It sounds easy, but it’s not. Forstall couldn’t do it.

With the new powers Tim Cook just gave Jony Ive today, we’ve seen Ive go from the man that makes the sexy hardware to a role that’s very similar to one Steve Jobs occupied before his death by controlling the entire user experience.

Cook may not know great design, but that’s okay because he’s got Ive there to help him make the best decisions possible — in both hardware and now software as well.

Shoddy skeuomorphic UI design will probably be coming to an end at Apple and we’ll have Jony Ive to thank for making it possible, and Tim Cook to thank for having the guts to get rid of Scott Forstall.

  • Firdaush Bhadha

    Holly mean batman…you could have put it a little bit lighter….

  • Paul Lloyd Johnson

    I like the skeumorphic design but the UI is generally inconsistent in other more important ways. Ive will definitely tidy everything up.

  • Robert X

    I like the skeumorphic design but the UI is generally inconsistent in other more important ways. Ive will definitely tidy everything up.

    You are entitled to your opinion but mine is skeuomorphic design sucks. I hope Ives trashes it as quickly as possible.

  • Paul Lloyd Johnson
    I like the skeumorphic design but the UI is generally inconsistent in other more important ways. Ive will definitely tidy everything up.

    You are entitled to your opinion but mine is skeuomorphic design sucks. I hope Ives trashes it as quickly as possible.

    I think they should make it an option to turn it on or off. Leather or metal look makes no difference to the interaction. A button is a button, no matter what the design The thing which really need sorting out are the traffic lights, they are so redundant now and could be replaced . I’d also like to see the gestures I use in Safari on the Mac brought over to my iPhone and iPad.

  • Jonathan Ober

    anyone else read this article and keep thinking it’s I’ve not Ive, and then realize each time oh yea his last name? Unless it’s just late and I have been cooped up under the thumb of Sandy Hurricaning my day away.

  • jaybee

    Nice design touch on the image of Jony :P

    Cracking news though, Jony is a master craftsman. Skeuomorphic design has had it’s day, for my money it’s kinda stuck with that whole ‘Web 2.0′ thing.

  • ppanah

    So great, iphones can now look like windows phones, clean and simple..?? I dont mind the skeumorphism because it gives it a little more life, and breathes personality into the phone. It looks awesome to be honest..rather than the sterile look. Ah well.

  • CharilaosMulder

    I don’t mind skeuomorphism in iOS and OSX. The interfaces are consistent, except for their “material”, which makes for an easy distinction.

    Besides, we never complain about real life analogies like folders, files and trash cans, do we?

  • CharilaosMulder

    I don’t mind skeuomorphism in iOS and OSX. The interfaces are consistent, except for their “material”, which makes for an easy distinction.

    Besides, we never complain about real life analogies like folders, files and trash cans, do we?

  • ambitiousboy

    A little bit too early to say that for now, let´s see what Jony Ive can do, since he hardly reach much of the UI thing in APPLE, and as more things to concern, if he can still get us the focus-minded industrial design. Hope he can make it. And as I worried, if he can’t make it. The APPLE may fail from this big internal shock.

  • dcdevito

    Ive designs and makes great hardware- he knows squat about software.

    His minimalistic designs will lead to UI screens with no buttons or words.

  • MobiusStripper

    Bring on the I’ve, I bet he’s got a design in mind that Forstall would have taken years to complete if ever getting to the end

  • ac1dra1n

    (Don’t quote me on this) Didn’t Cook say that there will be surprises coming in 2013 at WWDC 2012? Was that announcement a precursor to this? Maybe he was hinting that there will be some major redesigns.

  • iSalameee

    BUSTER, can’t wait to hear more about this in this weeks Cultcast!! Talk about what you think will happen with all the other guys it’ll be a good show this week.

  • extra_medium
    I like the skeumorphic design but the UI is generally inconsistent in other more important ways. Ive will definitely tidy everything up.

    You are entitled to your opinion but mine is skeuomorphic design sucks. I hope Ives trashes it as quickly as possible.

    I think everyone is too focused on form rather than function. Hopefully Ive and apple are more focused on trying to clean up the goofy parts of iOS that dont work properly rather than just trying to placate all the self appointed design experts who didn’t give a shit about clean lines and “minimalism” before they bought their first iPod.

  • Erwin Ilano

    jonathan can do no wrong, woof!

  • coolman1081

    Looks like we’ll being a big UI refresh in v7 then.

  • Ruichuen1989

    maybe there’s a better arrangement than firing? :(

  • Ramon36

    “I’m here to fix your leather calendar” – that’s an innuendo-laden statement.

  • technochick

    Ive designs and makes great hardware- he knows squat about software.

    What software has Sir Jony done

  • Alinm

    Nice one !

    here is my version :) ——> http://d.pr/i/JsoZ

  • dcdevito
    Ive designs and makes great hardware- he knows squat about software.

    What software has Sir Jony done

    My point exactly. So, to summarize, the largest tech company in the world put someone in charge to run its most import software, and this person has never made, managed, or worked…in software.

    Brilliant move.

  • JayKyte

    Everyone knows Jony is being groomed for ‘the job’…

  • HerbalEd

    So great, iphones can now look like windows phones, clean and simple..?? I dont mind the skeumorphism because it gives it a little more life, and breathes personality into the phone. It looks awesome to be honest..rather than the sterile look. Ah well.

  • HerbalEd

    I like the iPhone exactly because it is “clean & simple.” Don’t see where windows phone is any more so.

  • shagans

    I’m still a little nervous. Jony has been doing mostly hardware which in my opinion is much different than software. I know good design is good design but not quite sure how this will pan out. Besides, how do we know that Ive doesn’t like skeumorphic design? He may love it!

  • StelradPDoulton

    Funny how one of the things that Apple disciples ALWAYS cite as setting it apart from other “inferior” products has all of a sudden become dated.
    I wonder if Microsoft have patented colored, 4 sided, sharp cornered live icons.

  • Mystakill

    If he does to iOS and OS X what he’s done with recent hardware releases, especially the stupidly slimmed-down and neutered MacBook Pro and iMac lines, I’ll be heading back to Windows and/or Android.

  • NHTeaParties

    Actually it’s Ives who is hideous and should be fired. iOS 7 is hideous, the design looks cheap and not up to Apple quality. We buy Apple because of the classy icons and now that’s gone. I can barely SEE the iCloud calendar I must use each day. Ives needs to be fired and Forstall brought back… we want Apple on Apple not Android on Apple. This is the end of Apple..

  • NHTeaParties

    Funny how one of the things that Apple disciples ALWAYS cite as setting it apart from other “inferior” products has all of a sudden become dated.
    I wonder if Microsoft have patented colored, 4 sided, sharp cornered live icons.

    Apple has been dumbed down by Ives and I’ve told them so. Please send complaints about this abominable move to destroy Apple’s look and feel to apple.com/feedback People are defecting en masse after seeing this Ives abortion.

  • NHTeaParties

    Tell Ives you did not want your calendar fixed! @apple_worldwide @sirjonyives @tim_cook on Twitter. Ives must pay for his GUI faux pas.

  • NHTeaParties

    They have set themselves back to the stone age for usability… horrific.

  • NHTeaParties

    They have set themselves back to the stone age for usability… horrific.

  • dfasd

    This article was wrong… SO VERY WRONG!!!!

  • Brian Wright

    Now that we’re nearly 2 years since this article. Where are we? A clean consistent minimalistic UI on IOS? No, it’s now more of a disaster than ever (e.g., pink, red or orange text on blinding white backgrounds? Ive really approved this trashy design?). I’ll take Forstall (and inconsistent skeuomorphism) over Ive’s trashy eyesore UI designs any day. I foresee another firing on the horizon.

About the author

Buster HeinBuster Hein is Cult of Mac's Senior News Editor and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. Twitter: @bst3r.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)| Read more posts by .

Posted in News, Top stories | Tagged: , , , , |