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iPod Engineer Tony Fadell On the Unique Nature of Apple's Design Process 193

An anonymous reader writes "Often referred to as the godfather of the iPod, former Apple executive and current Nest CEO Tony Fadell played an instrumental part in Apple's resurgence. Recently, Fadell opined on what makes Apple's design process different from the rest of the pack. Fadell explained that a key and yet often overlooked, difference between Apple and other tech companies is that Apple ships 99% of the products that pass certain internal milestones. By way of contrast, during Fadell's tenure at Philips — where he was charged with overseeing the company's audio strategy — the iPod guru noted that Philips would axe 9 projects out of 10, even if a particular product was about to ship."
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iPod Engineer Tony Fadell On the Unique Nature of Apple's Design Process

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  • by __aaltlg1547 ( 2541114 ) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @09:45PM (#42622379)
    Really? what was the form factor precedent for an original Mac? Or a 1st gen iMac? Or a modern iMac? Or an original iPod?
  • Re:Say what? (Score:4, Informative)

    by socialleech ( 1696888 ) on Thursday January 17, 2013 @11:52PM (#42622899)
    I moderated this Funny, but felt a need to respond.

    If we accept your numbers as the correct numbers, and that anything outside those numbers is guaranteed to be wrong; we can then calculate the likelihood of any one piece of data in any TFA's posted to /. .

    For one piece of data, we have 1. We know that 20% of the time, it's going to outright fail. So, 0.8 chance, 1 being 100%. Of that amount, we know that 75% of the time, it will be right. So, 0.8 * 0.75 = 0.6.

    We also know that 44% of that 0.6 is possibly correct. So 0.6 * 0.44 = 0.264.

    We again know that 87% of that 0.264 is correct. 0.264 * 0.87 = 0.22968.

    But, only 9 times out of 10. 0.22968 * 0.9 = 0.206712.

    Now, we can state that for any given piece of data, on any TFA on /. there is a 20.6712% chance of it being correct.

    Which, oddly enough, doesn't sound that far off.
  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Friday January 18, 2013 @12:07PM (#42625989)

    I agree that they launched a little bit too early. But the symptom of that was the unavailability of a native SDK at launch, and the associated nonsense about web apps being the platform. Also the original lack or cut'n'paste.

    But not these...

    For example, due to lack of processing/GPU power and a desire to make apps look slick they decided to go with a fixed resolution and mono-tasking. Now they are stuck with making every new screen a multiple of the original iPhone or iPad resolution, and suffering from black borders when they wanted to go widescreen. They can't easily introduce multitasking either, just a kind of bodge for a few select applications.

    Neither of those are true.

    Fixed resolution has nothing to do with limited CPU/GPU power. It's a positive design decision. That on a small screen apps need to be specifically designed for a particular screen, not be resizable.

    And of course Apple could quite easily introduce traditional multitasking. It's intrinsic to the unix that underlies the OS. And all the levels above that were already created with multitasking ability, as they were adapted from OSX. And the CPU was certainly enough to support it. The iPhone CPU from the start was far more powerful than the original Mac CPUs that OSX ran on. The very easiest thing to do would be to introduce traditional multitasking.

    They didn't for two reasons.

    a) Battery life. You see it on Android very often that some crappily written app that's still running in the background takes hours off the battery life. That doesn't happen on iOS.

    b) Simplicity of the UI for users. Phones are supposed to be simple devices, with app interactions typically being seconds rather than minutes or hours. Nor do Phones don't have overlapping windows, nor screen real estate for permanent docks/task bars - the indicators of multiple apps running on desktop OSs. So some other form of app switcher/manager is required for multitasking. The original concept was that this was too heavyweight for a phone.

    The fixed screen size decision is a good one that has stood the test of time. iPhone apps ARE better for being specifically designed for the size of screen. And doubling is the perfect answer to higher resolution technology being available.

    The longer screen size is fine, as in practice, the tricky dimension is the width. Most apps are list based, so having more of a list shown doesn't change the app design. Whereas changing the width would mean different text limits/layout of list items.

    The initial design decision of no multitasking didn't last. But it's no bad thing to start with a very simple UI design, then add more complicated features later. And they did keep the battery conservation plan by only allowing system services at actually run in the background.

    in the longer term they built a platform with many of the limitations that desktop operating systems suffered from in the 80s. Many never overcame those limits, and when they did it was often with a horror show like Windows 95.

    Haven't a clue what you're talking about here. Presumably it's something about the lack of pre-emptive multitasking on early OSs. But the iPhone HAS pre-emptive multitasking. It just doesn't allow multiple apps to run arbitrary code at the same time. That's not the same thing.

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel