Apple Design VP To Join Jony Ive, Sam Altman For AI Device – Report

Apple’s iPhone design boss Tang Tan will leave Apple and join Sir Jony Ive’s LoveFrom, to work on AI device with Sam Altman

Apple’s iPhone design chief Tang Tan is reportedly set to depart Cupertino and join the design house created by Apple’s former design guru, Sir Jony Ive.

According to a Bloomberg report by noted Apple leaker Mark Gurman, Tang Tan, Apple’s current VP of product design, will join Sir Jony at LoveFrom, alongside OpenAI’s Sam Altman, to “work on a new artificial intelligence hardware project.”

The LoveForm AI project has been on the cards for a while now. In September the FT had reported that Sir Jony Ive was in “serious” discussions with OpenAI to build the “iPhone of artificial intelligence,” aided by over $1 billion in funding from Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son.

Image credit: Sam Altman/X
Image credit: Sam Altman/X

AI project

Since his departure from Apple, Sir Jony and his design house LoveFrom have been involved in a number of hardware projects – including a special edition record turntable from a British home audio technology supplier called Linn.

According to the Bloomberg report, Tang Tan will leave Apple in February and join Sir Jony’s LoveFrom, which will shape the look and capabilities of the new products, according to people familiar with the matter.

Tan will reportedly lead the hardware engineering on the OpenAI project.

Sam Altman meanwhile reportedly plans to provide the software underpinnings, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the endeavour isn’t public.

The FT report back in September noted that OpenAI’s Sam Altman had been looking to use Ive’s design firm LoveFrom to develop OpenAI’s first consumer device, with the two men reportedly having discussed what such a product would look like during brainstorming sessions at Sir Jony’s San Francisco studio.

Sir Jony and Sam Altman are said to be aiming to create a device that provides a “more natural and intuitive user experience” to interact with artificial intelligence.

Both men have apparently taken inspiration from how the touchscreen technology on the original iPhone helped revolutionise people’s interaction with the mobile internet.

According to the Financial Times’ sources, the project with OpenAI could allow Sir Jony to help create an interactive computing device that’s less reliant on screens – after Sir Jony previously expressed concern about the compulsive mobile use among many people.

Design guru

Sir Jony Ive had for years worked side-by-side with the late Steve Jobs at Apple, and his contribution to Apple’s revival could not be overstated, according to CEO Tim Cook.

The British designer was also described by Apple’s Steve Jobs as his spiritual partner at the firm.

Steve Jobs considered Sir Jony as one of his closest friends and once declared that the lead designer and executive “has more operational power than anyone else at Apple except me.”

Sir Jony designed Apple’s breakthrough products – ranging from the 1998 iMac G3 to the 1st-generation iPhone, Apple Watch, and iPad.

However Sir Jony left Apple in late 2019, after he announced his decision to step down and form his own design company, called ‘LoveFrom’.

Sir Jony and Apple severed their last ties to each other in July 2022, when Apple ended its consulting deal with Sir Jony, despite promising to work with him “long into the future.”

In October 2022 it was reported that Sir Jony’s successor, VP for industrial design Evans Hankey, was to leave Apple.

Her departure raised concern that Apple was relegating design executives at the firm, after it was noted that Apple’s leadership page did not showcase a single design executive since Sir Jony Ive left the company.

According to media reports, a total of 14 members of Sir Jony’s former design team at Apple have now left the company, with only six designers who once reported to Ive still remaining at Apple.

Reportedly more than 20 former Apple staffers have joined LoveFrom, including Marc Newson and Shota Aoyagi.