Birth of the iPhone: How Apple turned clunky prototypes into a truly magical device

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iPhone 2G prototype
iPhone 2G prototype
Photo: Jim Abeles/Flickr CC

iPhone turns 10 The world had never seen anything like the iPhone when Apple launched the device on June 29, 2007. But the touchscreen device that blew everyone’s minds immediately didn’t come about so easily.

The iPhone was the result of years of arduous work by Apple’s industrial designers. They labored over a long string of prototypes and CAD designs in their quest to produce the ultimate smartphone.

This excerpt from my book Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products offers an inside account of the iPhone’s birth.

Today in Apple history: Power Mac G5 packs world’s first 64-bit CPU

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G5 computer
A 64-bit CPU powered Apple's stunning "cheese grater" Power Mac G5.
Photo: Bernie Kohl/Wikipedia CC

Jun 23 June 23, 2003: Apple launches its gorgeous Power Mac G5, a powerhouse desktop computer with a perforated aluminum chassis that earns it the affectionate nickname the “cheese grater.”

Starting at an affordable $1,999 ($2,650 in today’s terms), the Power Mac G5 is the world’s first 64-bit personal computer — and Apple’s fastest machine yet.

A visual overview of Apple’s essential design principles

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Apple design places a premium on simplicity in an effort to provide
Apple design places a premium on simplicity in an effort to provide "a delightful experience."
Photo: Andy McNally/Cult of Mac

Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines have been the core of the company’s design philosophy ever since the Macintosh in 1978. Apple design evangelist Mike Stern gave an overview of the ever-evolving guidelines during a Wednesday session at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference.

The session, entitled “Essential Design Principles,” is one of my favorites, in large part because I’m a designer myself. I’ve distilled the essential Apple design principles he talked about in the sketchnotes above.

Apple Music for Android finally gets new iOS 10 design

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Apple Music
Apple gives Android users a tiny taste of the good life.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple Music subscribers on Android got some much-needed love from Apple today in the form of an update that brings a fresh UI to the streaming app.

It’s been nearly a year since Apple unveiled its Apple Music redesign as part of iOS 10 at WWDC 2016, but Android users are just now getting a taste of the interface’s bold, streamlined look.

Today in Apple history: Remember the ‘Flower Power’ and ‘Blue Dalmatian’ iMacs?

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imac
These were two of the wackier Macs in history.
Photo: Apple

Feb22February 22, 2001: The iMac Special Edition, sporting custom Flower Power and Blue Dalmatian designs, puts a wacky face on the iMac G3 computer that saved Apple’s bacon at the turn of the century.

A far cry from the super-serious, aluminum-heavy industrial design that will come to define Apple, these colorfully patterned Macs are some of the most irreverent computers Cupertino ever dreamed up (c’mon, when was a real Dalmatian blue?).

Under the consciously tacky exterior hummed a pretty darn great Mac, though.

Why a 10.5-inch iPad Pro isn’t totally crazy

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A 10.5-inch piece of paper on a 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
A 10.5-inch piece of paper on a 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
Photo: Dan Provost

Apple’s rumored plans to launch three different-size iPads this spring has fans a bit confused as to why creating a new 10.5-inch model is a good idea. But according to Dan Provost, the co-founder of Studio Neat, it actually wouldn’t be crazy for Apple to change the screen size when you look at the 12.9-inch iPad Pro.

Today in Apple history: Apple invents ‘slide to unlock’

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Apple didn't invent the Slide to Unlock gesture.
"Slide to unlock" drew audible gasps from the audience when Steve Jobs first showed it off.
Photo: Jared Earle/Flickr

Dec23 December 23, 2005: Apple files a patent application for its iconic “slide to unlock” gesture for the iPhone.

Although the iPhone is still a secret research project at the time, the ability to unlock the device by sliding your finger across it signifies everything Apple wants the iPhone to be: easy to use, intuitive and technologically miles ahead of the competition.

Mac division has ‘lost clout’ with Jony Ive and Apple design team

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imac2
Has Apple forgotten about the Mac?
Photo: Apple

Apple’s Mac team has “lost clout” with the company’s industrial design group and software team, claims a new report, arguing that Cupertino has “alienated Mac loyalists.”

The picture painted by the article is of a division with a lack of clear direction from senior management, departures of key employees, and technical challenges — all conspiring to make the Mac one of Apple’s forgotten divisions.

Someday you might get that round Apple Watch you crave

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You spin me right round, Jony, right round!
Photo: Aicion

Could future Apple Watches ditch the rectangular form factor of current models and opt instead for a round watch design, similar to the Pebble Time Round?

A pair of patent applications filed today suggest this is something Apple is considering. Titled “Electronic device having display with curved edges,” the twin applications make no secret about what they contain.

The question is whether Apple will follow through with them.

Why a secret Apple project may be delaying new Macs, this week on The CultCast

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Are you ready for Apple to make Macs
Are you ready for Apple to make Macs "pro" again?
Photo: Cult of Mac

This week on The CultCast: Is a secret Apple project stalling Mac updates? It wouldn’t be the first time. Plus: Apple teases Black Friday deals; AirPort routers are walking dead, and the Mac Pro might be next; the future of Time Machine; why iPad should be an iOS/OS X hybrid; and Jony Ive’s new role designing Apple itself.