Alongside the launch of their new 1080p-capable Apple TV, the company also completely redesigned the interface of the Apple TV software, which now more closely resembles iOS. The design changes have not been without criticism, however, and according to former Apple TV engineer Michael Margolis, the design is actually five years old, and was discarded by Steve Jobs for being a “bad design”.
The comment was originally spotted by Macgasm, who then asks “The question now is, who’s calling the UI shots at Apple these days? Are things slipping a little bit?”
It’s an interesting question, although not necessarily as obvious as it seems. MacStories casts some interesting light on the matter by putting Margolis’ comments into proper context. The truth of the matter is that the original design was created before the iPhone was popular, and before the iPad even existed, and that it’s common for Apple to revisit and revise previous designs.
MacStories’ assessment also points out a later comment left by Margolis as a response to TheNextWeb’s article on the Apple TV design:
Correction: I was telling @aral that AppleTV was not designed by Ive, it was designed by one (very talented) designer in the consumer apps team. I was not implying the consumer apps team only had one designer. Most of the AppleTV UI remains unchanged since AppleTV “Take 2″ and I think that’s a testament to how good it was. Great design is timeless.
The new UI shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. There is a clear effort at Apple to make everything match the look and feel of their popular iOS products – starting with Lion and increasing momentum with Mountain Lion.
To be clear – [Steve Jobs] didn’t like the original grid. This was before the iPhone was popular and before the iPad even existed.
Given that the iPad is far more successful than the AppleTV, migrating the AppleTV to look more like the iPad was probably a very smart move – even if some of the users of the old UI don’t prefer the new one.
In short, it’s not at all clear that Apple would have disapproved of the design, and MacStories author Cody Fink makes the case exceptionally well – I highly recommend reading his entire response.