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Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design…
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Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of…

by Ken Kocienda

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655295,345 (3.4)None
A Wall Street Journal bestseller An insider's account of Apple's creative process during the golden years of Steve Jobs. 'If you've ever wondered what it's like to work in a hotbed of innovation, you'll enjoy this inside view of life at Apple. Ken Kocienda pioneered the iPhone keyboard, and this book gives a play-by-play of their creative process -from generating ideas to doing a demo for Steve Jobs.' Adam Grant Hundreds of millions of people use Apple products every day; several thousand work on Apple's campus in Cupertino, California; but only a handful sit at the drawing board. Creative Selection recounts the life of one of the few who worked behind the scenes, a highly-respected software engineer who worked in the final years of the Steve Jobs era, the Golden Age of Apple. Ken Kocienda offers an inside look at Apple's creative process. For fifteen years, he was on the ground floor of the company as a specialist, directly responsible for experimenting with novel user interface concepts and writing powerful, easy-to-use software for products including the iPhone, the iPad and the Safari web browser. His stories explain the symbiotic relationship between software and product development for those who have never dreamed of programming a computer, and reveal what it was like to work on the cutting edge of technology at one of the world's most admired companies. Kocienda shares moments of struggle and success, crisis and collaboration, illuminating each with lessons learned over his Apple career. He introduces the essential elements of innovation, inspiration, collaboration, craft, diligence, decisiveness, taste, and empathy, and uses these as a lens through which to understand productive work culture. An insider's tale of creativity and innovation at Apple, Creative Selection shows readers how a small group of people developed an evolutionary design model, and how they used this methodology to make groundbreaking and intuitive software which countless millions use every day.… (more)

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Inspiring. There are many books exploring product development from a "Product" person or a designer's point of view. Ken gives his insights as an engineer tasked with developing core product features. He lists the qualities and the process necessary for the individuals, the team, and the company to pull this off. It is refreshing to contrast this with the current startup model on one hand and the research-division driven model of other big tech companies on the other.
I really enjoyed his deep dives in the technical challenges and insights that led up the final iPhone keyboard design. ( )
  raheelahmad | Mar 22, 2020 |
This is an excerpt from the book, that I found on the interwebs.
The full title will be released on September '18.



"Within a week of picking my keyboard, Scott scheduled a private demo with Phil Schiller, Apple’s top marketing executive, the man who, after Steve, was most responsible for communicating to prospective customers exactly why we thought our products were great and why they should go out and buy one.

Scott didn’t clue me in on the politics in play between him and Phil or why he had scheduled the demo. I imagined that Scott was eager to show off the results of the keyboard derby, which must have been a topic for discussion up at the executive level. In any case, my job was to prepare my demo so it worked as it did for the demo derby, so that’s what I did.

When Scott brought Phil to the conference room, I was waiting. This was the first time I ever met Phil, and I was nervous. I set everything up as I had a few days earlier, but I had already made a couple of changes to the keyboard user interface. Scott introduced me. Phil greeted me with a quick courtesy that showed he wanted to get right down to business.

He picked up the Wallaby and tapped a few times. I didn’t see what he typed. Phil asked me why I’d put more than one letter on every key. He was pleasant but direct. He seemed to think that my keyboard looked odd, that it required an explanation.

I tried to give him one. I told him about our decisions to make big keys that were easy to target and couple them with suggestions from a dictionary.

Phil wasn’t satisfied, and he said so. Then that was it. I was surprised we were done so fast. The demo was over in about two minutes.

It was sobering to hear Phil’s point of view. Obviously, he had none of the emotional connection I had to my keyboard. While I had been working hard on it, for Phil it was brand new, and he was indifferent to it. He expected the software to win him over, and apparently, it didn’t. This mattered for two reasons. First, as I said, Phil would be playing a pivotal role in pitching the Purple phone to people in the outside world once we were done developing it. Second, and perhaps more important, his reaction was just like a prospective customer evaluating a product from scratch. My keyboard would be a part of the overall impression, and Phil was confused rather than convinced.

A couple days later, Scott and I repeated the private demo performance for Tony Fadell, the executive in charge of the iPod division. I had never met Tony before either, but I didn’t have to know him to see how preoccupied he was. When he walked over to the conference room table with my demo on it, he barely glanced at my keyboard. He didn’t ask any questions. Then he tried my software, but he couldn’t have typed more than a word or two. The demo with him was even shorter than the one for Phil, and within a minute, he and Scott went off together for a private meeting, leaving me alone in the conference room to clean up the Mac, the Wallaby, and the wires connecting them.

Two demos with less-than-positive responses. Add that to my fellow derby entrants’ lack of excitement, and I could tell we didn’t yet have exactly the right solution. I didn’t get to demo the software for Steve. Maybe Scott concluded that we weren’t ready for the big time, but he never said anything specific to me about these executive demos, good or bad.

I didn’t feel like I had let Scott down. My code was the same as it was on derby day. There were no bad bugs during these executive demos. As I tried to interpret the feedback and decide what to do next, I thought back to the Black Slab Encounter with Safari. That breakthrough didn’t represent an end; it signaled a beginning. As exciting as it was to see our web browser render the first sliver of a web page, we realized what the milestone meant. I began to look at my derby-winning design in a similar way, as if it were a successful audition rather than a sold-out performance.



I started to think about improvements, and to help me keep my keyboard goal literally in sight as I sat in my office, I measured and cut out a small piece of paper, about 2 inches wide by 1.3 inches tall, a little smaller than half the size of a credit card turned on end. I pinned up this little slip of paper on the bulletin board next to my desk. I looked at it often. This was all the screen real estate I had available for my keyboard.

This was my touchscreen typing canvas. People would have to tap-tap-tap in that tiny rectangle to type, and I had to figure out how to make that happen. As I pondered that small shape and took stock of my software, I got accustomed to the idea that I might need to rethink some of the decisions that led to the derby-winning design, perhaps all of them."
  iSatyajeet | Nov 21, 2018 |
This is an excerpt from the book, that I found on the interwebs.
The full title will be released on September '18.



"Within a week of picking my keyboard, Scott scheduled a private demo with Phil Schiller, Apple’s top marketing executive, the man who, after Steve, was most responsible for communicating to prospective customers exactly why we thought our products were great and why they should go out and buy one.

Scott didn’t clue me in on the politics in play between him and Phil or why he had scheduled the demo. I imagined that Scott was eager to show off the results of the keyboard derby, which must have been a topic for discussion up at the executive level. In any case, my job was to prepare my demo so it worked as it did for the demo derby, so that’s what I did.

When Scott brought Phil to the conference room, I was waiting. This was the first time I ever met Phil, and I was nervous. I set everything up as I had a few days earlier, but I had already made a couple of changes to the keyboard user interface. Scott introduced me. Phil greeted me with a quick courtesy that showed he wanted to get right down to business.

He picked up the Wallaby and tapped a few times. I didn’t see what he typed. Phil asked me why I’d put more than one letter on every key. He was pleasant but direct. He seemed to think that my keyboard looked odd, that it required an explanation.

I tried to give him one. I told him about our decisions to make big keys that were easy to target and couple them with suggestions from a dictionary.

Phil wasn’t satisfied, and he said so. Then that was it. I was surprised we were done so fast. The demo was over in about two minutes.

It was sobering to hear Phil’s point of view. Obviously, he had none of the emotional connection I had to my keyboard. While I had been working hard on it, for Phil it was brand new, and he was indifferent to it. He expected the software to win him over, and apparently, it didn’t. This mattered for two reasons. First, as I said, Phil would be playing a pivotal role in pitching the Purple phone to people in the outside world once we were done developing it. Second, and perhaps more important, his reaction was just like a prospective customer evaluating a product from scratch. My keyboard would be a part of the overall impression, and Phil was confused rather than convinced.

A couple days later, Scott and I repeated the private demo performance for Tony Fadell, the executive in charge of the iPod division. I had never met Tony before either, but I didn’t have to know him to see how preoccupied he was. When he walked over to the conference room table with my demo on it, he barely glanced at my keyboard. He didn’t ask any questions. Then he tried my software, but he couldn’t have typed more than a word or two. The demo with him was even shorter than the one for Phil, and within a minute, he and Scott went off together for a private meeting, leaving me alone in the conference room to clean up the Mac, the Wallaby, and the wires connecting them.

Two demos with less-than-positive responses. Add that to my fellow derby entrants’ lack of excitement, and I could tell we didn’t yet have exactly the right solution. I didn’t get to demo the software for Steve. Maybe Scott concluded that we weren’t ready for the big time, but he never said anything specific to me about these executive demos, good or bad.

I didn’t feel like I had let Scott down. My code was the same as it was on derby day. There were no bad bugs during these executive demos. As I tried to interpret the feedback and decide what to do next, I thought back to the Black Slab Encounter with Safari. That breakthrough didn’t represent an end; it signaled a beginning. As exciting as it was to see our web browser render the first sliver of a web page, we realized what the milestone meant. I began to look at my derby-winning design in a similar way, as if it were a successful audition rather than a sold-out performance.



I started to think about improvements, and to help me keep my keyboard goal literally in sight as I sat in my office, I measured and cut out a small piece of paper, about 2 inches wide by 1.3 inches tall, a little smaller than half the size of a credit card turned on end. I pinned up this little slip of paper on the bulletin board next to my desk. I looked at it often. This was all the screen real estate I had available for my keyboard.

This was my touchscreen typing canvas. People would have to tap-tap-tap in that tiny rectangle to type, and I had to figure out how to make that happen. As I pondered that small shape and took stock of my software, I got accustomed to the idea that I might need to rethink some of the decisions that led to the derby-winning design, perhaps all of them."
  iSatyajeet | Nov 21, 2018 |
I am something of a computer history junkie having read many books on the subject. The soul of a new machine remains my favorite. This book will have appeal to anyone who is a fan of apple devices. Just as the fifties and studies are often thought of as"rocking" decades, I believe we are now in a smartphone decade with a new kind of interpersonal connectivity.
This book provides some insight as to how the foundation was laid.
For me Kocienda's thoughts about creativity are important as well. I suspect we are moving from the era of the smartphone to the era of artificial intelligence. One test for Associates intelligence will be the ability to be creative. Kocienda illustrates three elements of creativity: 1) recognition of a problem to be solved; 2) assembly of potential solutions from the parts and ideas at hand, and 3) choosing the best solution based on standards that can be referred to as taste.
I hope I am not misrepresenting his idea. It seems a way to move towards role based creativity of that isn't an oxymoron. ( )
  waldhaus1 | Oct 18, 2018 |
A breezy tale of the development of the Safari browser and the iPhone keyboard. This book touches the surface of these topics but does not delve deeply into the nitty gritty details. Overall I was wanting more detail on the actual development of the software, but this book will give an overview for much of the audience. It also provides some insight into the philosophy of development at Apple as perceived by the Author, but it was obvious this book passed through Apple PR before publishing. ( )
  rcrider13 | Sep 22, 2018 |
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