Why Jony Ive leaving Apple is a huge deal for the future of wearables

This can only be a good thing for all wearables, and we should be excited about it
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So after nearly 30 years serving as the chief design mind at one of the biggest tech companies on the planet, Sir Jony Ive has decided to go it alone.

While Ive will continue to work with his soon-to-be-former employer on some projects (Apple will be his first client), he's leaving to set up a new design firm called LoveFrom, which will launch in 2020. One of the projects he'll likely continue to work with Apple on is the Apple Watch, a device which, as our US editor Hugh points out, became a passion project for Ive during his time at the company.

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Ive has co-designed pretty much every major piece of hardware during his time at Apple and there's no question that the man knows how to make nice looking tech. The Apple Watch can most certainly be included among his design highlights. Some may still not be sold on its rectangular, less traditional shape, but the figures and the analyst reports don't lie; more people are loving the Apple Watch than hating it, and in our eyes, Apple's wearable remains the best example of a smartwatch that's actually useful.

But it appears Apple's huge loss will be the wearable tech industry's even greater gain. Wearables have for very long suffered from an image problem. That's changed in recent years, but Fitbit, Google and others have found it challenging to get the right mix of tech and design into one truly desirable package. Ive will work on wearable and healthcare projects with his own firm and talks of the inevitability that tech that becomes more personal is the kind that is worn. This should be music to the ears to any company that is currently working on something groundbreaking in the wearable space right now.

Ive has patents. Apparently over 5,000 of them

We imagine hiring Ive and LoveFrom's cofounder Marc Newson (a fellow Apple designer who was a major influence on the Apple Watch) will come at some cost, but the idea that other companies out there will be able to seek out the expertise of individuals who have worked on one of the most successful wearables to launch in the last five years is going to be a huge benefit for the evolution of the wearable industry on the whole.

Ive clearly has a strong vision of how things should look and feel. But maybe some of those visions and ideas he had for projects at Apple weren't always well received, which brings us to another important aspect about his impending departure: Ive has patents. Over 5,000 of them, apparently, so his inventing and design days are far from done. Ideas that were never used or explored could now come to light. It's exciting to think about a treasure trove of concepts that could reveal themselves over the coming years.

It's been a while since the wearable industry has had a big design name to draw attention to the the space. Yves Behar springs to mind who's most recent work was done with L’Oréal and its wearable My Skin Track UV sensor but is better known for his work with Jawbone's sleek (but ultimately problematic) UP fitness trackers.

We need more people in the wearable space who know what it takes to make truly desirable tech. If you had to pluck a name out from the tech industry, Ive would surely be top of that list. Now that the man Apple has for so long turned to is available for hire, it could be just the boost that the wearables need.

We know the quality and reliability of these personal devices have come on leaps and bounds, but there is still room for improvement on the design front. Ive's Apple departure could signal that change, and help take wearables in the right direction.

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Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of T3.com.

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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