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Jony Ive’s LoveFrom hires former top iPhone designer for ChatGPT hardware, and I’m excited

Published Dec 27th, 2023 8:15AM EST
ChatGPT photo illustration
Image: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

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Before all the Sam Altman drama at OpenAI, we saw various reports claiming that the CEO was setting up plans to develop ChatGPT hardware. What was exciting about those plans was Jony Ive’s involvement. Apparently, Sam Altman and Jony Ive have been meeting to discuss making a product that might be seen as the iPhone of AI. Reports at the time said the new venture might rely on a massive $1 billion backing.

I explained why ChatGPT would need its own home and why hardware development is inevitable. With or without Jony Ive, OpenAI will need something to fight against the Humane Ai Pin, Pixel 8, Galaxy S24, and iPhone 16. These are devices that already have built-in AI features or will launch next year. ChatGPT can’t remain a powerful generative AI product that only works in a browser or an app.

It might be years until we see a ChatGPT device, but things are happening. A new report says that Jony Ive’s design firm LoveFrom has hired a former Apple exec who was the VP of iPhone and Apple Watch design until recently. Well, Tang Tan is a soon-to-be ex-Apple top designer. His exit from the company made the news just a few weeks ago. But he won’t leave Apple until early next year.

The news comes from Apple insider Mark Gurman, via 9to5Mac. He claims that Jony Ive and Sam Altman are enlisting the Apple design veteran “to work on a new artificial intelligence hardware project, aiming to create devices with the latest capabilities.”

People familiar with the matter say that Tang Ta will join LoveFrom. In turn, the firm will “shape the look and capabilities of the new products.” Altman will handle the software side of this ChatGPT device.

The report notes that Tan will lead the hardware engineering team at LoveFrom. It’s unclear when Tan will start work at LoveFrom. While news of his Apple exit dropped in November, he will depart only in February.

iPhone 15 Plus Display
iPhone 15 Plus Display. Image source: Christian de Looper for BGR

What’s clear is that Tan has vast experience designing products. Apple’s still-VP of product design was involved in creating the iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods. During his tenure at Apple, he’s been credited with making “critical decisions” about Apple’s key products.

Tan won’t be the only former Apple employee working at Jony Ive’s design firm. More than 20 others have joined LoveFrom. The report mentions Patrick Coffman, Colin Burns, and Shota Aoyagi as some of the key Apple employees who joined LoveFrom:

The Apple departures have continued more recently. Patrick Coffman, one of Apple’s most important user interface design leaders, has left. Colin Burns, a former design executive at the British Broadcasting Corp. who joined Apple after Ive stepped down, is departing in January. He runs Apple’s Interaction Architecture team, which is responsible for exploring early hardware and software concepts.

Shota Aoyagi, another member of Ive’s storied industrial design team at Apple, has also exited. He just started at LoveFrom.

Apple losing top design talent to LoveFrom is an exciting development for this longtime iPhone user. That’s because I’m also excited about ChatGPT and the AI-infused future of tech. Details might be sparse at the moment, and we’re still dealing with rumors. But I can’t wait to see what sort of device Ive’s team can come up with and whether they’ll be able to deliver an iPhone moment for AI products.

Interestingly, the Ai Pin device also comes from a company started by two former Apple employees.

As for Apple, the iPhone maker should unveil its ChatGPT rival next year. It’s widely believed that iOS 18 will feature built-in AI features, with the iPhone 16 models likely to deliver the best possible experience. However, this is also just speculation, as we still have no idea what the so-called Apple GPT can do.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.