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Apple’s iPhone design chief jumps ship to work with Jony Ive

Apple’s iPhone and Watch design chief is leaving the company to work with Jony Ive, the man who led Apple’s design decisions until 2019 and who was key in creating the look of some of its most iconic products.

Tang Tan, who joined Apple a decade ago, is heading to the LoveFrom, the design firm set up by Ive after departing the tech giant four years ago, according to Apple tipster and Bloomberg reporter Mark Gurman.

Citing people familiar with the matter, Gurman said that Tan will lead hardware engineering for a new project set up by Ive and Sam Altman, the AI visionary who co-founded and now heads ChatGPT creator OpenAI.

The Ive/Altman-led venture made headlines in September, with the pair reported at the time to be in talks about creating a product dubbed “the iPhone of artificial intelligence.”

There’s been no public announcement about the ambitious-sounding endeavor, but the news of Tan’s reported move to LoveFrom to help with the venture suggests that it’s still very much moving forward.

According to Gurman, Tan will “shape the look and capabilities of the new products,” but he added that the first products — apparently for the home — remain at an early development stage, with the current focus on building a team that will create concepts.

Gurman notes how Tan’s exit marks a further disintegration of the design team that Ive built at Apple, with more than a dozen members having left since Ive’s departure and only about six remaining in post. It’s reported that more than 20 personnel have moved from Apple to Ive’s LoveFrom.

With a team in place and Ive joining forces with Altman, 2024 will hopefully be the year in which the endeavor drops some big news about its ambitions or even reveals its first product. Other firms are already showcasing phone-replacement devices with AI at their core, so Ive and his crew won’t want to leave it too long before unveiling something themselves.

As for who will take over from Tan at Apple, reports suggest that rather than bringing in a replacement, his duties have been divided up among existing personnel.

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Trevor Mogg
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