We live in an imperfect world. Some of the objects around us don't work properly, or look ugly, or have extraneous features they don't need (and probably contribute to the first two problems). If only Apple could design everything - Planet Jony Ive would be a wonderful place to live.
We jest, of course, and we're fully aware that Apple products aren't perfect either. And sometimes you get sick of elegant minimalism. But just for fun, we thought we'd come up with the 21 everyday objects most in need of an Apple make-over, and try to imagine what they'd look like after Ive's team was finished with them.
1. If Apple designed... The camera flash
Macworld editor Karen Haslam thought Apple could do a better job with the flash than the hapless present incumbents.
"I'd be very happy if Apple redesigned the camera flash so that we aren't blinded every time someone takes a photo," she explains.
"Apple's no stranger to the technologies in the camera flash, having recently improved the flash in the iPhone so that the tones in your final masterpiece are more natural. We don't know the solution, but perhaps Apple could come up with a directional flash that wouldn't beam its light right at our faces but rather into the surrounding area."
On a related note, Jony Ive has actually redesigned a camera - the Leica M, which sold at a charity auction for $1.8m:
2. If Apple designed... Bathroom fixtures
It wasn't long before our readers ended up in the toilet. Although actually these suggestions aren't wholly outlandish, given that one of Jony Ive's early design projects (long before he came to Apple, admittedly) was a range of toilets, bidets and sinks - collections named Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo - at Tangerine Design. (You now know, incidentally, the answer to one of the questions in our grand Jony Ive quiz.)
Yasmine Yusuf, for one, reckons it would be a good thing if Jony returned to his roots and put together some more toilets "in developing countries. The people would benefit from lessened disease spread."
3. If Apple designed... Playing cards
Playing cards have been around for well over a thousand years - not the usual Apple target market, then. But their design has remained largely fixed for the past century or so, and it would take someone with Apple's boldness to reimagine them. What minimalist magic would Jony Ive weave with a deck of cards?
In fact, at least a couple of designers have tried something similar already, which might give us some clues to what Apple cards would look like. Robert Padbury, for instance, has set up a Kickstarter project to support his ultra-minimalist design, seen in the video below:
Another lovely and even more radical take on the minimalist playing card concept comes from Joe Doucet.
"IOTA," explains Design Milk, "is a deck of regulation playing cards that dallies with the idea: how much you can take away while still maintaining a playable deck?"
4. If Apple designed... Remote controls
DanworthV3 proposed that Apple should tackle that old living-room favourite: the remote control. "Remote controls - universally chunky, clunky and ugly."
Of course, Apple has a little experience in this area. The hardware remote for the Apple TV is certainly minimalist, although this user for one finds it a shade too small and easily lost. Apple also makes a software remote - the Remote app - which is so stripped back that it's barely even there. Not everyone is a fan.
5. If Apple designed... Musical instruments
DanworthV3 thought an Apple guitar "would probably also be lovely". Mind you, Craig Grannell then chimed in: "One string. No way to tune. Only works with iAmp. Break the string and you have to replace the entire neck." Zing!
Image by Macworld intern Jake Williams
More seriously, Apple is a very musical company indeed, with the signing of major bands to the iTunes Store featuring among its proudest moments. GarageBand has pretty much turned the iPad into a musical instrument already, so an iGuitar wouldn't be the maddest next step.
6. If Apple designed... The bicycle
Karen Haslam also suggested the humble bike.
"Rumour has it that in the early days of Apple Steve Jobs thought that the computer was like a "bicycle for the mind". In fact, the Macintosh was at one point codenamed Bicycle and Steve Jobs is even said to have considered making Bicycle its official name - but luckily the team working on the project thought it was silly.
"Could Apple one day launch an actual bike? It's not a completely off-the-rails idea. There have been rumours that Apple might one day launch an iCar, which are somewhat far-fetched in our opinion. But why not use the company's expertise in crafting beautiful objects out of aluminium to create the iBike? We'd expect Siri and Apple Maps to be built in and perhaps even powered by your peddling."
Here's a little more on that quote from Steve Jobs about bikes for the mind:
"I think one of the things that really separates us from the high primates is that we're tool builders. I read a study that measured the efficiency of locomotion for various species on the planet. The condor used the least energy to move a kilometer. And humans came in with a rather unimpressive showing, about a third of the way down the list. It was not too proud a showing for the crown of creation. So, that didn't look so good.
"But then somebody at Scientific American had the insight to test the efficiency of locomotion for a man on a bicycle. And a man on a bicycle, a human on a bicycle, blew the condor away, completely off the top of the charts. And that's what a computer is to me. What a computer is to me is it's the most remarkable tool that we've ever come up with, and it's the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds."
7. If Apple designed... Running shoes
Phil thought Apple could come up with some nice running shoes.
It's some distance away from the current Apple line, but this actually makes sense in lots of ways. For one thing, Angela Ahrendts' experience at Burberry will stand Apple in good stead if it chooses to dip a toe in the clothing and fashion spheres, and the wearable tech segment is likely to push in that direction in next few years. (An Apple iWatch, if one ever appears, is sure to be the most stylish smartwatch around.)
And the fitness side of things is one that Apple has some form in, and looks to be eyeing up more seriously for the future. Indeed, many of the strongest iWatch rumours are the result of Apple hires in the fitness and medical monitoring space - but imagine if they were planning an Apple training shoe instead.
Apple could even launch a trainer and a fitness band, connected by Bluetooth. Okay, it's not very likely, but it would be fun wouldn't it?
8. If Apple designed... Hi-fi equipment
Macworld multimedia editor Dominik Tomaszewski came up with this concept, along with a pair of photomanipulated images (below) and a terrible pun name.
"Not sure if I'd trade my Naim kit for an Apple equivalent," Dominik, "but perhaps…. if Apple made a decent Hi-Fi music streamer/amp all in-one, it could be called the iFi."
The above photomanipulation is based on an image of kit by the Danish company Dynaudio, by the way.
9. If Apple designed... Bags
Macworld staff writer Ashleigh Allsopp likes the idea of some Apple bags.
"I know this is boring," she says, "but I really want Apple to design a bag! None of the bags designed for Apple products quite do the trick for me, so I'd love to see Apple have a go at it.
"Just look at the Smart Cover and Smart Case (above) - no other case I've seen is quite as good as Apple's Smart Case. So imagine an Apple Smart Bag. It would be stylish (not many MacBook bags are stylish), it would fit perfectly, and it would finally make lugging around multiple Apple devices a pleasurable, fashionable and cool thing to do."
10. If Apple designed... The TV
Jim Martin, editor of Macworld's sister website PC Advisor, reminded us of the classic "if only Apple would design..." - the TV.
"I know it's been said before, but combining the existing Apple TV interface with an actual TV would be ace," Jim argued. Indeed, it makes a lot of sense to extend Apple's ecosystem in this way, controlling the entire experience. Users seem more likely to embrace digital TV and movie downloads in this environment, just as the integration of the iPod with iTunes and the iPhone with the App Store encouraged users to download digital content when they hadn't before (or hadn't paid for it).
It's a lovely idea, and probably the most likely here to actually appear, but still seems a long shot - not least because it's been confidently predicted by so many analysts for so long and never appears.
Still, we'll be keeping an eye on the hints and rumours that appear and shooting down the ones that don't add up. Keep an eye out with our article Apple Television iTV release date, rumours.
11. If Apple designed... Plugs
A third and final offering from Karen Haslam: plugs. Does Apple have the muscle to enforce a single standardised plug across the globe? We can but dream.
"Apple loves making proprietary technologies," Karen observes. "How about Apple leads the world forward by creating one standard plug so that we no longer need to bring plug converters with us when we go on holiday. Manufacturers around the world would no doubt celebrate the fact that they didn't need to adapt the design of their products for different plugs and voltages."
12. If Apple designed... Office telephones
Calum Benson wants Jony Ive to redesign his office phone. "They mostly suck."
One of the themes of this discussion was change - or in most cases the lack of it. And office telephones, in most cases, look almost exactly the same as they did 20 years ago. Is the office telephone design of 1994 still the best we can come up with?
Of course, settled design isn't always a bad thing. But it absolutely is if things are staying the same because That's How We Do It.
So how could Apple change the simple office phone? It would certainly reduce the number of controls, one would assume. It would probably also use nicer materials.
In his early days, Jony Ive came up with a design for a phone which he called the Orator. It's an interesting example of what happens if absolutely everything about a settled design is up for grabs:
Photo and Orator design copyright Weaver Design
13. If Apple designed... The car
In the linked article, Mike Elgan argues that "while Apple sinks major resources into solving a TV problem that doesn't exist, the in-dash car entertainment system desperately needs Apple's help."
Of course, since those days Apple has targeted the car, but in a smaller way, with CarPlay.
14. If Apple designed... Home automation equipment
Ric Bevan suggested that Apple might like to open up yet another front in its war with Google: home automation. This is the field of systems designed for handling heating, lighting and other domestic affairs, a market Google joined when it acquired Nest Labs at the start of this year.
The iHome would be exceptionally user-friendly, of course, with seamless integration with iOS devices making controlling or checking on your home appliances when on the move a simple task. It could even be controlled by Siri: "Siri, switch on the heating."
It could be argued that Apple is at its best when creating controlled ecosystems for other companies' software to operate in, and a broader idea might be for Jony Ive's team to work on a proprietary platform for the Internet of Things - one which users trust to bring together a range of connected devices and appliances around the home.
15. If Apple designed... Mechanical pencils
Stationery, believe it or not, is yet another area that Jony Ive dabbled in during his pre-Apple days. He came up with a pen called the Zebra TX2 while an intern at RWG, and it sold in great quantities. It had a special ball-and-clip mechanism that had no purpose beyond being fiddled with.
16. If Apple designed... Light bulbs
Kirk also wants to see Apple take on the light bulb.
The incandescent light bulb is still widely used despite being inefficient and having a short life - but Apple has the clout and marketing muscle to convince people to make a larger initial outlay for a better long-term solution.
Image by Macworld intern Jake Williams
17. If Apple designed... Supermarkets
Ashleigh Allsopp's second suggest was the iSupermarket.
"Goodness, supermarkets are so horrible," she explained. "I'd rather shop online, but I tend to end up with 100 carrots when I only wanted one or one tiny bag of poppadoms when I'm supposed to be feeding all my friends at a dinner party. I want to go to a supermarket that's as fun as the Apple Store. Maybe not quite as busy, though."
18. If Apple designed... Electric razors
And one last idea from the prolific Kirk McElhearn. What about the electric razor?
As Kirk puts it: "Most razors are terrible; Apple could win that market."
19: If Apple designed... Food
20: If Apple designed... Watches
One last sensible one before we finish: the wristwatch.
Rumour-mongers have been talking about an iWatch for years, but the growing sales of smartwatches by other companies (and the burgeoning wearable tech market in general) have fuelled appetite for Apple to make its move.
Recently, Apple CEO Tim Cook made comments at a company earnings call that stoked the fires still further, observing that Apple's philosophy is to make the best product in a market, rather than just to get there first, and reiterating the company's desire to expand into new categories.
"As you probably know from following us for a long time," he said, "we didn't ship the first MP3 player, nor the first smartphone, nor the first tablet. In fact, there were tablets being shipped a decade or so before then, but arguably we shipped the first successful modern tablet, the first successful modern smartphone and the first successful modern MP3 player. And so it means much more to us to get it right, than to be first."
But what would an iWatch look like? Minimalist, presumably; elegant and fashionable; fitted with an icon-based touchscreen interface... Many recent theories suggest it will be heavily tilted towards the health and fitness side of things.
Many, many designers have taken a swing at an iWatch, so Jony Ive has plenty of inspiration to draw on. Here are a couple of our favourites:
ADR Studio: click here for the full gallery
21. If Apple designed... Er
Graham Lee thinks Apple should design "that thing in every room that reminds you why you went in there. What's that, there isn't one? EXACTLY!"
Good luck with that, Graham!The Complete Guide to the iPhone 5s & 5c is on-sale now. Click here for buying information.