Apple’s software design group is undergoing major internal changes as a result of internal conflict between Apple Human Interface Vice President Greg Christie and Senior Vice President, Jony Ive, reports 9to5Mac. Christie was a senior software engineer who played a key role in the development of the original iPhone software, at the time working closely with Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Of late, his role at Apple had been to oversee all of Apple’s software design and had been reporting to Craig Federighi. Ive will assume further control of Apple’s software design, with Christie expected to leave the company.
The move is a major one. Software design had long been under Federighi, but that will now shift to Ive, furthering his influence and control within Apple over design decisions. The two allegedly had conflicting opinions regarding the design direction of iOS 7. When Ive replaced Forstall, his position was to ‘provide leadership and direction for Human Interface software teams’. Sources suggest that Ive had usurped responsibility from Christie, further leading to irreconcievable differences between the two men.
Update: Apple has confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that Christie is departing later this year, providing this statement.
Greg has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20 years at Apple. He has made vital contributions to Apple products across the board, and built a world-class human interface team which has worked closely with [Jonathan] for many years.
John Gruber and Matthew Panzarino have both reported that while Ive and Christie were not always in agreement, the decision to leave Apple was not based on any conflict. Within Apple, it was apparently announced weeks ago. This according to their sources within Apple.
Christie was made available to press in advance of the latest Samsung/Apple trial, offering a rare glimpse at the days leading up the introduction of the first iPhone. Christie’s team was responsible for features like slide to unlock, making calls from the address book and the iPod app which would eventually become the Music app. Details like perfecting the scrolling speed of lists and the ‘bounce back’ at the end of lists, were all developed on his watch.
This latest change in Apple management should help clear the way for Ive to perfect his image of Apple’s iPhone software design.