Renowned designer Jony Ive‘s recent departure from Apple has, not surprisingly, spawned a small storm of retrospectives about his many years at the company. Many of those have focused on the products he helped craft or the passions that inspired him — for example, his affection for boxy Land Rovers — but there have also been the occasional nuggets of interest regarding little-known moments from his almost three-decade career. Among those fascinating tidbits to emerge from Ive’s past: The legendary designer apparently came up with a design for an Apple automobile that didn’t even have a steering wheel.
According to Apple Insider‘s excerpts from a report by The Information, Ive was heavily involved in the early stages of creating the quasi-mythical “Apple Car,” which would have marked the tech company’s foray into passenger vehicle production. Ive, a noted car enthusiast, apparently went so far as to mock up a model of his perceived idealized Apple Car out of wood and leather to show CEO Tim Cook.
Here’s where things get weird: According to the report, Ive was adamant that the car should go without a steering wheel, instead being controlled mostly via Siri. (For the demonstration for Cook, the designer reportedly even hired an actress to play the part of the digital assistant, responding to presumably car-specific demands.)
As one glance at the Apple website is enough to tell you, the idea of a voice-controlled autonomous vehicle hasn’t made its way out of Cupertino just yet. (Indeed, in spite of what you may have heard from Elon Musk or others, truly self-driving cars remain a long way off — which you can read more about in Gear Patrol Magazine Issue Ten.)
While Apple’s endeavors to build its own car appear to have been put on the back burner, if not taken off the stove entirely, the company still has at least one finger in the automotive pie; like many Silicon Valley giants, Apple is researching self-driving vehicles, recently taking the step of burnishing its autonomy credentials by buying research firm Drive.ai. As with most future products and plans, Apple is playing its vehicular cards very close to the vest, so we’ll have to wait and see what (if anything) the company will do. One thing does seem certain, though: Whatever Apple does wind up bringing to the automotive space, you’ll probably be able to control it in part with the words “Hey, Siri.”
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