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It's a question many of us have asked ourselves at one point or another since Steve Jobs passed away in 2011: Is Apple still the design leader it once was? Apple's design chief Jony Ive certainly seems to think so, or so he claims in an Q&A with the New York Times on the heels of the Gray Lady's larger piece on Tim Cook this weekend. Not only is Apple's approach to design in a good place, Ive says, but the company is about to extend it to products with "materials we haven't worked in before."
Ive understandably remains vague about the specifics of these new products, but past rumors may indicate what's on the table. Large-scale production of sapphire crystal displays for the rumored "iWatch" and iPhone 6 seem all but a given, for instance, particularly in light of information from analyst Matt Margolis this weekend claiming that Apple can easily make untold tons of the stuff. Liquidmetal may also figure heavily into future Apple products; so far, it's most notable for being used for the SIM eject tool for the iPhone 3G.
Ive's interview also yields some additional information about Tim Cook. Most notably, Ive relays his belief that nothing significant has changed in Apple management since Cook took over the helm. Much of that smooth transition has a lot to do with Cook's long history with the company, he says. "Steve established a set of values, and he established preoccupations and tones that are completely enduring – and he established those principals with a small team of people. I’ve been ridiculously lucky to be part of it," says Ive. "But Tim was very much part of that team – for that last 15 or 20 years."
Like Jobs, Cook reportedly insists on frequent meetings, and Ive notes that the two of them meet around three times a week. "Heading on for two decades working with Tim, one of the things I have always admired is the quiet consideration he gives to trying to understand how he perceives something," says Ive. "He will take the time. I think that testifies to the fact that he knows it’s important."
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.