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Apple's Input Design Lab Reveals Secrets Behind Development of New iMacs

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Recently, Apple let Medium behind the doors of its Input Design Lab while the company was in development for the new set of iMacs and accessories that just launched today. While visiting the lab, journalist Steven Levy got some behind-the-scenes glimpses of the "fanatical" production process taken by the team at Apple, and even discussed topics -- like the iMac's relevance -- with a few Apple executives.

Highlighting Apple's laser focus on details, Levy relates a story of how the Magic Mouse 2 initially "stirred consternation and late nights" among its creators due to the sound it made as it was moved around being "not right." While the team had kept the overall look and feel of the mouse the same as its predecessor, the internal changes had altered the amount of friction between the device and a table, thereby changing the sound it made.
"When we did the previous mouse we spent so much time dialing those feet, the material, the geometry, everything, so that it sounds good and feels good when you move it on the table," says John Ternus, whose title is VP for Mac, iPad, Ecosystem and Audio Engineering. "But then you change the mass of the product and you change the resonant frequency of the product and all of a sudden the feet that we loved weren't great anymore. They weren't what we wanted."
With the impending launch of the iPad Pro and the growing reliance on mobile computing over heavy desktop use, Levy also brought up the topic of the iMac line and its relevance in 2015 with Phil Schiller, Apple's senior VP of Worldwide Product Marketing.

Schiller explained Apple's products as a continuum, where you use the "smallest possible gadget to do as much as possible before going to the next largest gizmo in line." Starting with the Apple Watch, to the iPhone, iPad, and so on, he states that users shouldn't frantically try to use all of the company's products at once, but do as much on one at a time before needing to pick up another.
"...The job of the iPad should be to be so powerful and capable that you never need a notebook. Like, Why do I need a notebook? I can add a keyboard! I can do all these things! The job of the notebook is to make it so you never need a desktop, right? It's been doing this for a decade. So that leaves the poor desktop at the end of the line, What's its job?"

"Its job is to challenge what we think a computer can do and do things that no computer has ever done before, be more and more powerful and capable so that we need a desktop because it's capable," says Schiller. "Because if all it's doing is competing with the notebook and being thinner and lighter, then it doesn't need to be."
When asked about the possibility of introducing an iOS-like multitouch display into the iMac line, the team behind the desktop computers remained adamant against such a move. Schiller reiterated that any input on a desktop that sits above keyboard level feels "uncomfortable" and that the iMac was built from the ground up with a cursor input in mind.
"iOS from its start has been designed as a multi-touch experience -- you don't have the things you have in a mouse-driven interface, like a cursor to move around, or teeny little 'close' boxes that you can't hit with your finger. The Mac OS has been designed from day one for an indirect pointing mechanism.

These two worlds are different on purpose, and that's a good thing -- we can optimize around the best experience for each and not try to mesh them together into a most-common-denominator experience."
The entirety of Medium's report from the Input Design Lab at Apple is well worth a read, as it goes far more in depth with topics like the new iMac's color spectrum and even the technology, design, and instrument testing that resulted in the new Magic Mouse 2, Magic Trackpad 2, and Magic Keyboard.

Article Link: Apple's Input Design Lab Reveals Secrets Behind Development of New iMacs
 

Pakaku

macrumors 68020
Aug 29, 2009
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"...The job of the iPad should be to be so powerful and capable that you never need a notebook. Like, Why do I need a notebook? I can add a keyboard! I can do all these things! The job of the notebook is to make it so you never need a desktop, right? It's been doing this for a decade. So that leaves the poor desktop at the end of the line, What's its job?"
Actual work, maybe? I'm loving the naive optimism in this quote.
 
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Jakexb

macrumors 6502a
Mar 18, 2014
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1,085
"The job of the iPad should be to be so powerful and capable that you never need a notebook. Like, Why do I need a notebook? I can add a keyboard! I can do all these things!"
Seems like there's a false assumption in there. The iPad in no way is so capable that you don't need a notebook. That's a fantasy world. I guarantee none of the engineers or accountants or anyone doing serious work at Apple HQ uses an iPad as their primary device. Maybe managers and execs who are mostly reading reports and responding to email and scheduling meetings. Hopefully that's just Phil Schiller using every opportunity to promote Apple products -- and not that people at Apple really actually believe the iPad in it's current state replaces a notebook. Even serious Apple fanboys like me don't believe that.
 
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Popeye206

macrumors 68040
Sep 6, 2007
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NE PA USA
I'm always impressed with the detail Apple puts into it's products... yet they always seem to be judged on the "not fast enough" processors and lack of some gizmo or port with little appreciation given to the thought and industrial design of their products.

One of these days, they should just up the COGs by 10% and really deck out the entry level system to stop the nay-sayers... oh wait... then they'd be like 99% of the computer makers and running at a loss or so thin margins one hick-up and their doomed!
 
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Altis

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Sep 10, 2013
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"...The job of the iPad should be to be so powerful and capable that you never need a notebook. Like, Why do I need a notebook? I can add a keyboard! I can do all these things! The job of the notebook is to make it so you never need a desktop, right? It's been doing this for a decade. So that leaves the poor desktop at the end of the line, What's its job?"

The iPad is still so limited. Anyone who wants to use a full size monitor, a mouse, have user accounts, USB ports and devices, a file structure, be able to work with multiple applications, etc etc...

Strangely enough, it isn't that tablets can't do these things; the iPad can't. The Surface can and does.
 
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Moonjumper

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Jun 20, 2009
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A laser focus on details, but they failed to notice that most Macs are aluminium and black, but none include white. So they make a range of accessories that are mostly white. Didn't they notice the detail that the accessories would look better if the design complimented the devices they are supposed to be used with?
 
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ThunderSkunk

macrumors 68040
Dec 31, 2007
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Milwaukee Area
Well, sounds like that's it then. If that's their concept of usage, they will remain incapable of producing a full featured product to compete against the Surface Pro and move devices forward out of traditional usage. Enjoy typing commands on a typewriter or fingerpainting on a toy.

Happens to everyone eventually. People, companies, entire civilizations. Innovate, grow, thrive, mature, become the new status quo, get stuck, plateau out, stagnate, & slowly, steadily be surpassed by the next up & comer entering the cycle.

Apple increasingly feels like the Little Company That Could. ...but didn't.
 
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vreedy76

macrumors newbie
Nov 10, 2014
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SC, USA
Why don't you put touch on the iMac and Macbook or allow the iPad to run apps like the Macbook?

We design the iPad to only do 85% of what the Macbook can do because when you really need to do that last 15%, you need to shell out another $1500. ;)
 
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Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
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No Jony Ive in this piece so I guess people have to find someone else to complain about their ego. Perhaps it's Schiller's turn. :D
 
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asiga

macrumors 6502a
Nov 4, 2012
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These dudes say one thing but then make the opposite: the iPad should replace your notebook... but then they avoid a filesystem, so it will never replace your notebook.

Then they say the iMac should not be thinner and lighter, but being able of doing things desktops never did. But they release today new iMacs with Intel graphics, with notebook CPUs, just the thin and light show.

They think one thing, then do the opposite. And in the meantime, the MacPro has no updates for more than a year...
 
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BornAgainMac

macrumors 604
Feb 4, 2004
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And a desktop computer with 5400RPM drive and on-board GPU is capable in 2015? ...

The 54000 RPM drive in a desktop could be Apple's evil thinking to make people move towards more profitable mobile product lines. And at the same time increase margins regardless if the consumer does a BTO or picks up the iMac with the 5400 RPM drive.
 
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Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
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These dudes say one thing but then make the opposite: the iPad should replace your notebook... but then they avoid a filesystem, so it will never replace your notebook.

Then they say the iMac should not be thinner and lighter, but being able of doing things desktops never did. But they release today new iMacs with Intel graphics, with notebook CPUs, just the thin and light show.

They think one thing, then do the opposite. And in the meantime, the MacPro has no updates for more than a year...
Really? Nothing can ever replace the file system and no device can be used productively if it doesn't have a file system? And people here are complaining about Apple not being innovative and forward thinking?
 
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artfossil

macrumors 65816
Oct 5, 2015
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"The job of the iPad should be to be so powerful and capable that you never need a notebook. Like, Why do I need a notebook? I can add a keyboard! I can do all these things!"
Seems like there's a false assumption in there. The iPad in no way is so capable that you don't need a notebook. That's a fantasy world. I guarantee none of the engineers or accountants or anyone doing serious work at Apple HQ uses an iPad as their primary device. Maybe managers and execs who are mostly reading reports and responding to email and scheduling meetings. Hopefully that's just Phil Schiller using every opportunity to promote Apple products -- and not that people at Apple really actually believe the iPad in it's current state replaces a notebook. Even serious Apple fanboys like me don't believe that.
I am laughing out loud at your assumption that one can not do serious work on an iPad. Thank goodness my research teams don't know that!
 
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mazz0

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Mar 23, 2011
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Leeds, UK
Perhaps they could put some effort into making a mouse that isn't painful to use?

Might have to pick up the new Magic Touchpad though...
 
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NMBob

macrumors 65816
Sep 18, 2007
1,296
1,122
New Mexico
The 54000 RPM drive in a desktop could be Apple's evil thinking to make people move towards more profitable mobile product lines. And at the same time increase margins regardless if the consumer does a BTO or picks up the iMac with the 5400 RPM drive.

My question is why does the world's most advanced operating system NEED a non-spinning drive to be fast. Seems like lazy to me. Snow Leopard (yes, that old argument again) seemed to do just fine at 5400 RPM.
 
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Altis

macrumors 68030
Sep 10, 2013
2,986
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Really? Nothing can ever replace the file system and no device can be used productively if it doesn't have a file system? And people here are complaining about Apple not being innovative and forward thinking?

It isn't actually replaced, it's just completely locked out.

How is restricting access to something innovative? All it's doing is forcing the user to do things a certain way, limiting what they can do.

Want to attach some files to an email reply? Get real! .. How innovative.
 
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