Apple design, stepped down from the “god” altar丨hard philosophy

No company has a better product introduction page than Apple.

Take the AirPods Pro product page released 2 years ago as an example. When we enter, we can only see AirPods Pro in the shadows, still holding the Pipa half-hidden; Then when we swipe the screen or scroll the mouse, the light flows, and it walks out of the shadows, revealing the plump curve and the whole picture.

What makes the superb details in these few seconds?

Light, surface, material and craftsmanship.

But the real situation of AirPods Pro is not as perfect as the above animation. It is still two points away from perfection: the body material is not metal, and the body has a parting line.

▲ The only rose gold EarPods in the world

Former Apple Chief Design Officer Jony Ive and his designer friend Marc Newson once designed the only rose gold EarPods in the world. Just looking at the light and shadow performance, it is the most ingenious headset. However, given that Jony Ive has resigned from Apple, it is impossible for us to see AirPods Pro becoming a perfect version.

The most famous product that Jony Ive and Marc Newson have designed together is the Apple Watch. The first generation of Apple Watch Edition should be their ideal consumer electronics luxury product, with the perfect surface, material and craftsmanship.

▲ A hypothetical image of Apple Watch 7 made by Jon Prosser

However, recently broke the news Jon Prosser said that Apple will use a similar design to the iPhone 12 on the Apple Watch 7, that is, more right-angled edge designs will be adopted.

Although this news is not surprising, it is enough to make people feel embarrassed. After many products in the three major product lines of iPhone, Mac and iPad tend to be square-shaped, Apple Watch is naturally inevitable, which also means Jony The Apple Watch design concept laid down by Ive and Marc Newson 7 years ago is completely out.

Time has changed, and Apple Design has begun to step down from the altar of "God".

▲ iPhone XR and Clear Case

In the iPhone XR generation, Apple followed it to release a Clear Case, which is what we commonly call a clear water case. The price is as high as 329 yuan. The mold line, like a natural one, is integrated.

Similarly, during this period, Apple’s official iPhone silicone protective shell could not find a parting line, and it had a unity that other manufacturers’ protective shells could not match.

However, when it comes to the iPhone 12, due to the design of the phone itself and the emergence of MagSafe, the design and craftsmanship of its phone case has changed visible to the naked eye.

The first is that the clear water shell of the iPhone 12 series has a white magnetic circle designed for MagSafe. This circle is like a "cropfield circle" that mimics the activities of aliens. It is full of traces of human activities. It can be said that the previous generations are gods. The official clean water shell integrated purity line of almost its technology has been destroyed.

Then, an obvious parting line appeared on the side of the silicone case of the iPhone 12 series. One after another, Apple succumbed to function and craftsmanship in the design of mobile phone cases.

This is a big or small thing. To be smaller, these designs will not change the protective performance of the phone case, and the appearance will not be too difficult to see. On a larger scale, some past Apple design principles, and some things related to "divine nature", are collapsing in small places.

The most obvious is Seamless.

▲ The original MacBook Air

The precision of consumer electronics, the diversity of the supply chain, and the characteristics of human-computer interaction determine that it is actually difficult to do naturally. However, due to design, aesthetics, reliability, etc., many manufacturers still pursue the integration of form. Unibody (integration) is based on this demand, milling, boring and carving on a whole piece of aluminum alloy sheet. The process of producing a whole body shell is its typical performance, and the original MacBook Air is the representative of Unibody (integrated). Today, there are countless products using similar processes, and the materials have also extended from metal to plastics, ceramics and even glass.

Seamless (seamless) is like a complement to integration, and it is also a dark line in Apple's design.

▲ Various ergonomic mice

99.9% of the mice on the market use a line to distinguish the left button and the right button. These mice will also use various ergonomics theories to create a shape that fits the shape of the human palm. The final result is that the better-to-use mouse, Often the more complicated the lines, the more distorted the shape.

▲ Magic Mouse 2

But Apple went to the other extreme when designing the mouse: to go to the left and right keys of TM to divide the line, to go to the ergonomic grip of TM, I just need to be in a seamless form. Ever since, there is such an Apple Magic Mouse with a heavy click feeling, slow feedback, and awkward grip, but it is really too delicate.

▲ Magic Mouse flip charging

Oh yes, the charging port of the Magic Mouse is located at the bottom instead of the front side that is visible. This design makes it look anti-human when charging.

▲ The original Apple Pencil

Apple accessories with similar concepts include the original Apple Pencil. In order to achieve a round and slippery natural form, Apple used a very complicated process: integrate the components into an inner core, and then wrap the inner core in a metal tube, and then proceed around the metal tube. Plastic injection. It is also true that if you want to see its internal structure, you can only cut it apart destructively, so its maintainability is almost zero.

▲ The Apple Pencil is disassembled, it can’t be put back if it’s disassembled

Here's another one. Yes, this exquisite and beautiful design also makes it roll off at will, and its charging look is still anti-human.

When it comes to Apple Pencil 2, Apple has made changes in the design, and made a flat surface on the pen body so that it can be attached to the iPad for wireless charging, and it can be placed on the desktop steadily. But its visual artistry is far inferior to its predecessors. But it must be admitted that it is much easier to use and more user-friendly.

In some places that are irrelevant to the usage scenario, we can better see Apple's pursuit of Seamless (seamless) and the distance between friends and businessmen.

HomePod is not a successful product from Apple, but it does not hinder its excellence in design, especially the seamless mesh fabric on its surface, which wraps HomePod or HomePod mini into a round object, which can naturally blend into the living environment. Among.

▲ The back of a smart speaker

There are too many speakers with similar designs, such as Google Home, Amazon Echo series, Sony LF-S50G, Libratone Zipp, etc., but most of them have stitching marks on the back, or stitching of different materials to avoid stitching of braid , Coupled with the existence of various buttons, there is no integration at all.

▲ iPhone 7 Jet Black

This generation of iPhone 6 is the generation with the greatest increase in sales of iPhone compared to the previous generation. The main reason is that it has become bigger. At the same time, this generation is also the most complained generation in appearance. For mobile phone signals, Apple is on the back of the fuselage. Left abrupt "leucorrhea strips." This fragmentation does not exist in the sense of touch, but in the visual sense, and it is also a design that yields to function. Until the iPhone 7 generation, Apple has greatly eliminated this sense of fragmentation by reducing injection molding strips and adjusting colors, and also created the most textured iPhone 7 bright black version in the history of iPhone models.

The above examples are actually to illustrate a design phenomenon of Apple: as much as possible to be seamless (seamless), whether the product is large or small, the material is plastic, metal, glass or woven, but sometimes it will be lost Some practicality; in general, Apple's realization of Seamless (seamless) is forward, and far surpasses peers, but due to technology and craftsmanship, complete Seamless (seamless) is still an ultimate goal .

What really makes me suspicious of this phenomenon of Apple's unique design is not the rumors of Apple Watch 7, nor the design and craftsmanship of the official protective case, but the emergence of the M1 version of the iMac.

▲ iMac G3

It is true that many bloggers will mention the classic iMac G3 when reviewing this iMac computer, because the colorfulness of the two is the most obvious, and it can also be called the name of inheritance.

But in my opinion, the inheritance of the M1 version of iMac is not only the iMac G3, but also the G4 and G5 as well as the iMac 2006.

▲ iMac G4

The front glass cover of the M1 version of the iMac looks like the white frame of the iMac G4 with a transparent plastic double-layer injection effect; the base design of the iMac now originated from the iMac G5; the division between the screen and the chin began in iMac 2006.

▲ iMac G5

▲ iMac 2006

There are few "integrators", but there are countless "stitching monsters". Fortunately, Apple still has aesthetics and craftsmanship, so that the M1 version of the iMac has a mediocre good-looking, but this color-based good-looking is instant noodle style, and does not stand up to scrutiny.

In the design of iMac G3 and iMac after G3, Apple basically followed at most two colors and at most two material methodologies to design the appearance of iMac. Frankly speaking, although the iMac G3 is well-known in history, it is not considered a pioneering sect in design, iMac G4 can only be regarded as the pioneering sect of iMac today.

As mentioned earlier, Apple has always pursued integration and seamlessness, and the iMac series is naturally the same. We can see the process of iMac becoming thinner, and we can also see the process of changing the back material of iMac from plastic to metal and gradually disappearing from the side. Before the M1 version of the iMac, the side thickness of the iMac was only 5mm, and it looked like a line from a distance. The screen panel was inlaid on the integrated fuselage, and it was tightly stitched. Although one black and one silver, they complemented each other, and there was no sense of conflict. This is probably because the black of the glass panel and the silver of the metal body are the natural colors of the material in our perception (it is not the case, this is still the color that appears after human processing).

However, the M1 version of iMac broke the methodology of "at most two colors and at most two materials", presenting the contrast between white glass and stained glass, and the situation where a high-saturation colored metal body is superimposed on a low-saturation colored metal base. Although Apple has worked hard to keep the low-saturation colored metal base and colored glass similar, the colors presented are also different due to the huge difference in material texture. So in fact, strictly speaking, the M1 version of the iMac has 4 colors: 1 white and 3 colors. Perhaps, we can also add the black of the screen.

▲ Look carefully, remove the power cord, there are 2 metal colors, 2 glass colors

The separation between the color boundaries is completely indelible. In addition, the M1 version of the iMac itself has discarded the sleek design and becomes square, making it look too artificial. In short, it is not enough. One, not smooth enough, not seamless enough.

In other words, the work it does on the whole is full of details, but it is also superficial: the power cord wrapping paper of the same color, the keyboard and mouse trackpad of the same color, and the system theme color of the same color. This kind of work, changing to other manufacturers, can also achieve 80 to 90% of Apple's.

What can other manufacturers fail to do or dare not do at the same time? It is the front Apple Pencil, HomePod, Magic Mouse, etc. in the design and craftsmanship. The chin part of the previous iMac is welded up but you can’t see it. Of course, there is also the "trash can" Mac Pro in appearance and internal layout. The shock of the world and so on…

"Curves belong to God, straight lines belong to humans" has been said to be bad by the architecture and design circles. There is no doubt that the processing of curves is more difficult than straight lines, and curved surfaces are more difficult to handle than flat surfaces. So we continue to praise iOS rounded rectangles. The curvature of the icon is continuous, and there is the world’s largest single curved glass in Apple Park.

It can be said that Apple in the curve age is very persistent, and many places are not humane enough. The Apple of the Straight-line era is a bit more human, but the superior divinity is less.

When I was watching the sci-fi movie "Arrival", I saw a giant alien ship approaching the city. My first feeling was, why is this thing such an apple?

Coincidentally, in Douban’s description of the comparison between a human transport plane and an alien spacecraft, the uploader used "the comparison between the earth’s transport plane and the alien spacecraft. The difference in technology is high and the judgment is high. Only in terms of appearance, it is basically the Nokia E71. "The gap with iPhone 4" is such a description.

In this article, I have repeatedly used adjectives such as natural, seamless, and ingenious to describe Apple’s design and craftsmanship, because in the entire consumer electronics industry, Apple has undertaken the most exploratory tasks and has made a great deal of excellence. Human works at the same level, this is the reason why Apple Design has entered the altar. It has paid the most cost and obtained the most lucrative return.

The author of this article is Lin Mo, an industrial design enthusiast.

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