Apple seeking engineers with the right touch

Apple seeking engineers with the right touch

Summary: A sign that multi-touch input could be moving across Apple's product lines are its many job postings for touch engineers and managers.

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Apple seeking engineers with the right touchA sign that multi-touch input could be moving across Apple's product lines are its many job postings for touch engineers and managers.

From my search of Apple's Job Opportunities site, I could see a growing team to handle the company's touch technology. There were postings for hardware engineers, instrumentation engineers, senior hardware engineers and a hardware engineering manager for touch technology.

The touch technology team features a collaborative environment with creative, smart people, world-class products and cutting edge technologies. The team features opportunities for individuals to contribute across a wide spectrum of disciplines. Best in class engineering excellence and thoroughness is expected and encouraged. Learning and building of skill-sets is highly encouraged. Invention, IP and patent creation is expected and supported. Pushing the envelope to design and ship innovative products (like the iPhone) with best-in-class technologies and user experiences is the main goal of the touch technology team at Apple.

The company appears to mean that last cliche about "pushing the envelope."

I recall reading about a March presentation by Apple senior engineering manager Michael Lopp at the South By Southwest conference. The talk was about Apple's engineering process. Here's a bit from Helen Walters' report on BusinessWeek:

Every week, the teams have two meetings. One in which to brainstorm, to forget about constraints and think freely. As Lopp put it: to "go crazy". Then they also hold a production meeting, an entirely separate but equally regular meeting which is the other's antithesis. Here, the designers and engineers are required to nail everything down, to work out how this crazy idea might actually work. This process and organization continues throughout the development of any app, though of course the balance shifts as the app progresses. But keeping an option for creative thought even at a late stage is really smart.

Of course, none of the job responsibilities mention that you may have some face-to-face time with Steve Jobs, an activity that would put fear into even the most brave (egotistical) engineer.

Ages ago, I was told a story by one of the engineering team for the 1987 Mac II computer. It seems that Steve Jobs wasn't satisfied and he sent one of the logic-board revisions back to the drawing board. Why? Because he didn't like the color of a resistor. Not its functioning, reliability rating or cost. Its color.

No pressure on multitouch guys.

(In the nostalgia dept., here's a funny photo of a couch made from a bunch of Mac IIs. )

Topics: Hardware, Apple, CXO, IT Employment

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8 comments
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  • That explains why Apple products are so overpriced

    [i]It seems that Steve Jobs wasn?t satisfied and he sent one of the logic-board revisions back to the drawing board. Why? Because he didn?t like the color of a resistor. Not its functioning, reliability rating or cost. Its color.[/i]

    Makes sense. Constant redesigning to change the color of a transistor would bring the costs up a lot! Nothing else in any Apple product justifies the premium you have to pay to get that Apple logo. :)
    NonZealot
    • Perfectionists are odd ducks there is no doubt there.

      Now while I'm very grateful I don't have to work for a
      perfectionist I am also very grateful I get to enjoy the labors
      of those who do. ie Apple products..... the efforts of those
      who have too work under a task master like Jobs shows and
      in my humble opinion are well worth the price.

      Pagan jim
      anonymous
      • Like shopping at Wal-Mart

        many dislike the treatment of workers in many oversea factories, only up to the point where they save 5.00 on a pair of shoes, then it's a non-issue to them at that moment.
        GuidingLight
        • Well I figure as a "general" rule Apple employee's

          get paid better and have better benefits. However I do think
          that working for a guy like Job's could be stressful yet the
          products speak for themselves as to the value of that extra
          effort. Or at least I feel that way.

          Pagan jim
          anonymous
  • RE: Apple seeking engineers with the right touch

    The color of the resistor is actually telling the what the value of the resistor. Here is a URL to an electronics website showing what all of those color bands mean:
    http://www.electronics-lab.com/articles/basics/theory/resistor_codes.htm
    If you change a resistor because of its color you change the value of the resistor and will change the functionality of the PC board. However you can do some creative art if you understand electronics and have alot of time and space so you can create a functional and artistic PC board. I done that in high school however the board was more 8 times the size of the necessary PC bard and took 4 times the components that the original parts list but is worked. But who really buys a computer to look at the PC board? Maybe the geeks like us may.
    Today with 90% of board made with Surface Mounted Devices (SMD) all of those resistors, capacitors, transistors and other components are bunch of tiny black chips. There will be a few "traditional" resistors and capacitors and other components and these will be in the heavy duty areas like the power supply.
    phatkat
  • RE: Apple seeking engineers with the right touch

    The Apple logo means more than the endorsements of Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or the Better Business Bureau. Knowing that Apple takes pride in it's products justifies the added cost. You get what you pay for!
    I have owned Zeos, Micron, and Dell. They were all really great when I first got them, but then they slowed down and, in the case of the Micron, the SCSI hard drive crashed.

    My next machine will be an Apple because I know what has been engineered into them. The rest of my family are happy Apple users. I will gladly pay the additional cost to get perfection (or close to it). Knowing that Steve Jobs in the CEO and Al Gore is on the Board of Directors are added incentives.
    metilley@...
    • Pretty much agree

      I have used Macs at home and work for more than 20 years,
      and have had to use several brands of DOS/Windows
      machines at work during that time. I agree that the slight
      extra cost is well worth the convenience, uptime and user
      interface benefits.

      However, I buy Mac products in spite of the fact that scam
      master Gore is on their Board. I predict history will show his
      "climate" issues to be knowingly fraudulent.
      frabjous
  • More hipocrisy, more waste.

    Apple is the company that thinks a two-button mouse is "too complicated" for users to understand. Even its own multi-button mouse hides its extra buttons and disables them by default in the OS.

    But somehow Apple finds it completely feasible that users will guess at the functions they can perform by swiping in various directions with multiple fingers on a trackpad.

    Not to mention that in three or more years of hype, no one has shown anything truly useful about multi-touch. Wow, we can zoom, rotate, and shove stuff around. Over and over, this is what every demo shows. All of these functions are actually performed more quickly and efficiently with a mouse and its wheel.

    Finally, amidst the hype over a possible multi-touch screen, no one asks himself: Do I want to work holding my arms in the air in front of me all day? Because that's what working with a touch-screen would entail. In addition to numerous breaks to clean the oil off your screen.

    Apple still hasn't fixed glaring usability problems in its current UI; it doesn't need to spend time or engineering dollars building one that's even more obscure.
    dgurney