Jony Ive Knew What He Wanted iOS To Look Like Back In 2005


Want proof that Scott Forstall blocked Jony Ive’s vision for iOS? Here’s an early prototype for the iPhone, made in 2005 by Jony Ive’s industrial design lab. On the back it says “iPod” because it was based in the design of the old aluminum iPod Mini. Remember that dinosaur? But check out the icons on screen. Look familiar? The icons on the prototype’s screen look just like iOS 7!

Check it out below. Notice the same flat design, the same signal bars and dock, the same unadorned icons. The Phone app icon is very similar. The Music App is identical. There’s the same dots to indicate signal-strength. Jony Ive has been credited with the flat new look of iOS 7 — now we know where he got his ideas: this is the way the iPhone operating system was originally envisioned!

The prototype’s Home screen is a mockup. It’s a fake screen; a picture of what iOS might look like. In 2005, it was still just a twinkle in Scott Forstall’s eye.


Thanks to Apple’s watertight secrecy, no one was allowed to get a peek at the operating system being developed by Forstall’s software group — not even Jony ive’s industrial designers across campus at Apple’s HQ.

Jony and Steve Jobs and several other Apple executives were party to it. But the dozen or so designers in Jony’s group never saw the software while they designing the hardware. To give them some idea of what it might look like, a dummy Home screen was created with fake icons. It’s featured on a lot of the early prototypes released during the Apple-Samsung trial. Check out some of the prototypes here.

One of the most interesting thing about these prototypes is how often Jony Ive recycles ideas. The early prototypes include designs that are very similar to the iPhone 3 and the iPhone 4, released several years later. During the trial, lead designer Christopher Stringer admitted that Jony’s design group often goes back to make sure they didn’t miss any good ideas.

BTW: I’m finalizing a new bio of Jony Ive and his industrial design team to be published by Penguin Portfolio in November. It’s called “Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products,” and here’s what the cover looks like:


  • Gregory Wright

    Wait a minute. I thought Steve Jobs was the genius at Apple in 2005. Apple made and distributed what Jobs wanted made and distributed. Don’t blame Forstall. If Jobs wanted Ives design on the street that is the way it would have been.

  • ac1dra1n

    Wait a minute. I thought Steve Jobs was the genius at Apple in 2005. Apple made and distributed what Jobs wanted made and distributed. Don’t blame Forstall. If Jobs wanted Ives design on the street that is the way it would have been.

    Jobs also chose Ive to work at Apple.

  • jpaul

    Greg, you’re absolutely right! That’s exactly what I was thinking as I read the article–OTOH, no wine before its time. This is now exciting and fresh, in ways that it might not have been had it been the original.

    By the way, has anyone written yet (I’m sure they will), that the “black-and-white and flat all over” phrase that was being widely circulated in the past month was a smoke screen, a red herring?!! In contrast, iOS 7 is beautiful and elegant–and amazingly functional and powerful.

  • albertkinng

    ok, understand this. Steve Jobs saw this prototype and didn’t like it. HE DIDN’T LIKE IT back in 2005. do you like it now?

  • Adouska

    Ive is super talented there is no doubt about it. However if you read Jobs biography, it was Steve who guided him to deliver his vision. There were so many ideas rejected that Ive wanted to apply. Jobs was a genius and most of the times he was proven right. So he didn’t like the flat white look back then and Ive could only apply it when he died. And one more thing: This look made the iphone look like a windows phone when Jobs was stating during his life that Gates is tasteless. Why they didn’t follow Job’s guidelines and improve the design, modernize it? Instead they went the opposite way… to my humble opinion this is a fight of Egos. The time to prove that they were right back then and Steve was wrong. Well, was he?

About the author

Leander KahneyLeander Kahney is the editor and publisher of Cult of Mac. He is the NYT bestselling author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products; Inside Steve’s Brain; Cult of Mac; and Cult of iPod. Leander has written for Wired, MacWeek, Scientific American, and The Guardian in London. Follow Leander on Twitter @lkahney.

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