Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Wallpaper’s Guided Tour of Apple Park With Jony Ive

You’ve read Steven Levy’s tour of Apple Park, and you’ve read Christina Passariello’s for the Wall Street Journal. But Apple is still putting the finishing touches on the building so they invited Nick Compton of Wallpaper to take a look as well. There is, of course, fantastic photography by Mark Mahaney in this article, but I think this bit — about the iPhone X — profound:

The most advanced iteration of the iPhone, the X, launched with great hoopla at the keynote address, is all screen. Except that’s the wrong way to look at it. The point is that, at least in the way we use it and understand it, it is entirely unfixed and fluid.

I wonder, then, if Ive misses the physical click and scroll of the first iPods, that fixed mono-functionality, the obvious working parts, the elegance of the design solution. But I’ve got him all wrong. ‘I’ve always been fascinated by these products that are more general purpose. What I think is remarkable about the iPhone X is that its functionality is so determined by software. And because of the fluid nature of software, this product is going to change and evolve. In 12 months’ time, this object will be able to do things that it can’t now. I think that is extraordinary. I think we will look back on it and see it as a very significant point in terms of the products we have been developing.

‘So while I’m completely seduced by the coherence and simplicity and how easy it is to comprehend something like the first iPod, I am quite honestly more fascinated and intrigued by an object that changes its function profoundly and evolves. That is rare. That didn’t happen 50 years ago.’

The pitch of the first iPhone was that the fixed plastic keyboards of the BlackBerry, et al., were unchangeable buttons that were there whether you needed them or not. All of that was replaced with an onscreen keyboard, when needed, and a singular “home” button. But, when viewed in the light of only displaying what is necessary, it is striking how — in just ten years — the home button has been reduced to the same level as those plastic keyboards: a fixed button that is there no matter whether it is needed. Nearly the entire user-facing surface of the iPhone X is now as flexible as the bezel-surrounded 3.5-inch display of that original iPhone.