Apple's Jony Ive successor has lasted just three years – who will lead design at Apple next?

Jony Ive
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple is on the hunt for a new head of hardware design just three years after appointing its last one.

Evans Hankey, who replaced Jony Ive as the person in charge of Apple's hardware design team, is reportedly on the way out of the role. Hankey had been at Apple for a number of years before taking the top job following Ive's long-awaited departure.

All change

Hankey's leaving Apple was announced within Apple earlier this week, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports. She'll hang around for another six months while Apple works out who will take over, with none having been named so far. It's likely Apple will have at least one name in mind already as part of a succession plan — although it isn't clear who that might be.

“Apple’s design team brings together expert creatives from around the world and across many disciplines to imagine products that are undeniably Apple,” a spokesman said in a statement to Bloomberg. “The senior design team has strong leaders with decades of experience. Evans plans to stay on as we work through the transition, and we’d like to thank her for her leadership and contributions.”

Hankey's taking over from Ive coincided with a return to form for Apple's design team. Following years of questionable decisions that led to devices that looked great but suffered from serious design flaws — the MacBook Pro's butterfly keyboard being a prime example — Hankey ushered in a change of tact. Since then we've seen brand new laptops that not only replaced the problematic keyboard but added ports, too.

The lack of ports had long been a bone of contention for Apple's laptop users, with the company instead pointing them toward a sea of dongles in an attempt to turn USB-C and Thunderbolt ports into anything but.

Apple has produced some of its best hardware designs under Hankey's leadership, with the best MacBook to date being the 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro.

As for Alan Dye, the other person promoted following the departure of Ive, he's still around. Apple says that he's going nowhere and remains in charge of design for software and user interfaces. Whether he could take over both roles remains to be seen.

All eyes will now be on Apple to see who picks up the mantle from Evans Hankey. And whether we will see a change in design approach once they do.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.