The most important Apple employee you've never heard of is leaving the company

Black iPhone SE 2022 on pink background
(Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

Steve Hotelling, the man behind Touch ID and with work on the custom camera sensors and health sensors, is leaving Apple. He is credited with six pages worth of patents over the last two decades. 

In a report by Bloomberg, Mark Gurman wrote, ‘Another person who worked with Hotelling said that — outside of Apple’s chip efforts — he was the single greatest driver for innovation in its products.’ His leave will make a noticeable absence at Apple and others will have to fill in those gaps. Bloomberg followed this up by saying ‘His responsibilities are being divided up between multiple of (Johny) Srouji’s direct reports, including Alan Gilchrist, who took over managing the company’s camera and depth sensor teams. Another executive, Wei Chen, is in charge of many display technologies.’

Unlike Jony Ive, another well-known ex-Apple designer, there is no suggestion just yet that Steve Hotelling is going anywhere else with his design ideas. It seems like Hotelling is taking a well-deserved retirement, according to that same Bloomberg report. 

Apple’s legacy — iMore’s take

Many of Apple’s biggest figures have stayed in the company for well over a decade, and this shows in the hard work they do. Hotelling’s leave comes at an important time for the company, with not only the standard development of iPhones, Macs, Watches, and iPads but next year’s Vision Pro also being worked on internally, which is an added pressure for the design and engineering departments. 

Retaining the talent of its designers, alongside investing in budding creatives, are the two best ways of getting better-designed technology and Apple seems to have a knack for keeping employees around. Hotelling’s long career is a testament to that. 

Given the hundreds of patents with Hotellings’ name on them, we are sure to see his work on devices for years to come, even if he won’t be there to help with the finishing touches. 

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James Bentley

James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person. 


With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer. 


As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.