Top Apple engineer moves to mysterious new project

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What is top Apple hardware engineer Dan Riccio up to now?
What is top Apple hardware engineer Dan Riccio up to now?
Photo: Apple

Dan Riccio, one of Apple’s top designers, is moving to a mysterious new role in Cupertino.

After joining Apple in 1998, Riccio worked on loads of groundbreaking products, from the first iMac to last year’s AirPods Max and the M1-powered Macs. Now, he’s become Apple’s “vice president of engineering.”

Going forward, Riccio says he will be “focusing all my time and energy at Apple on creating something new and wonderful that I couldn’t be more excited about,” according to a press release Monday.

News of a management shakeup inside the circular walls of Apple’s HQ always generates speculation. Especially when a high-profile vet moves to an unnamed special project reporting directly to CEO Tim Cook.

Will Riccio work on the secretive Apple Car, which has been through its share of changes over the years? Late last year, Apple’s artificial intelligence lead, John Giannandrea, reportedly took the wheel of the project. And 2021 brought a wave of new Apple Car rumors, including a report that Cupertino might partner with Kia to produce an automobile. Meanwhile, Cook remains predictably mum on the topic.

It’s also possible Riccio could tackle the long-rumored virtual and/or augmented reality headset(s) Apple wants to produce.

John Ternus gets a promotion, too

John Ternus will take on new responsibilities as Apple's senior vice president of hardware engineering.
John Ternus will take on new responsibilities as Apple’s senior vice president of hardware engineering.
Photo: Apple

Another Apple vet, John Ternus, is also making a big move within the company. After joining Apple’s product design team in 2001, he worked on major releases like the iPad, AirPods and iPhone 12.

Ternus’ new post-reorg role might produce more of an impact on the Apple gear you actually use in the near future. He will take the helm of Apple’s hardware engineering team and join the company’s executive team, the company said.

Apple press release on Dan Riccio and John Ternus

Since Apple goes out of its way to craft vague PR about moves like these, here’s the whole thing for your decrypting pleasure. It’s more fun than playing Clue.

Dan Riccio begins a new chapter at Apple

Cupertino, California — Apple today announced Dan Riccio will transition to a new role focusing on a new project and reporting to CEO Tim Cook, building on more than two decades of innovation, service, and leadership at Apple. John Ternus will now lead Apple’s Hardware Engineering organization as a member of the executive team.

“Every innovation Dan has helped Apple bring to life has made us a better and more innovative company, and we’re thrilled that he’ll continue to be part of the team,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “John’s deep expertise and wide breadth of experience make him a bold and visionary leader of our Hardware Engineering teams. I want to congratulate them both on these exciting new steps, and I’m looking forward to many more innovations they’ll help bring to the world.”

Riccio has been a leader in designing, developing, and engineering almost all of Apple’s products. From the first generation iMac to the more recent 5G iPhone lineup, M1-based Macs, and AirPods Max, Riccio built the Hardware Engineering teams and scaled Apple’s ability to innovate across multiple new product lines with the highest quality. After joining Apple in 1998 as a leader on the Product Design team, Riccio became vice president of iPad Hardware Engineering in 2010, and in 2012 he joined the executive team as the leader of Hardware Engineering. Riccio will continue to play an instrumental role in shaping the future of Apple’s products in his new position as a vice president of engineering.

“Working at Apple has been the opportunity of a lifetime, spent making the world’s best products with the most talented people you could imagine,” said Riccio. “After 23 years of leading our Product Design or Hardware Engineering teams — culminating with our biggest and most ambitious product year ever — it’s the right time for a change. Next up, I’m looking forward to doing what I love most — focusing all my time and energy at Apple on creating something new and wonderful that I couldn’t be more excited about.”

Ternus takes on the role of senior vice president of Hardware Engineering. Ternus joined Apple’s Product Design team in 2001 and has been a vice president of Hardware Engineering since 2013.

Throughout his nearly 20 years at Apple, Ternus has overseen hardware engineering work on a variety of groundbreaking products, including the first generation AirPods, and every generation of iPad. Most recently, Ternus led the hardware team responsible for the incredible iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, and he has been a key leader in the ongoing transition of the Mac to Apple silicon. Ternus graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania.