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Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process During the Golden Age of Steve Jobs

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  3,278 ratings  ·  349 reviews
An insider's account of Apple's creative process during the golden years of Steve Jobs.

Hundreds of millions of people use Apple products every day; several thousand work on Apple's campus in Cupertino, California; but only a handful sit at the drawing board. Creative Selection recounts the life of one of the few who worked behind the scenes, a highly-respected software eng
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published September 4th 2018 by St. Martin's Press
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Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apple
This is the real deal, written by an insider (I was also there during that time). This book accurately describes Apple's software engineering during the second Steve Jobs era. (For hardware engineering, read Adam Lashinsky's Inside Apple.)

The vivid descriptions in the book are better than the analyses. I would stress that the principles and practices described by the author were completely unwritten and unnamed, as the author says. So if you're trying to be like Apple by reading a book, you're d
Hots Hartley
Overall, not bad. I loved the Intersections chapter, in which Ken Kocienda discusses design principles in detail. The keyboard constellation-matching algorithm, iteration from prototype to prototype, and SpringBoard touch size all provided detailed insight into Apple's design thinking and what made Purple an exciting adventure in problem-solving.

I didn't appreciate the dumbing down of programming principles. Too often, Ken Kocienda oversimplifies otherwise technically exciting concepts. For exam
Aug 09, 2018 marked it as to-read
This is an excerpt from the book, that I found on the interwebs.
The full title will be released on September '18.


"Within a week of picking my keyboard, Scott scheduled a private demo with Phil Schiller, Apple’s top marketing executive, the man who, after Steve, was most responsible for communicating to prospective customers exactly why we thought our products were great and why they should go out and buy one.

Scott didn’t clue me in on the politics in play between him and Phil or why he had sch
Chris Ryan
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'd been hoping for a book like this about Apple. I've been working in product design for almost thirty years, and this just confirms that writing about the "user experience" field has unfortunately been dominated by agency types: Kocienda's experience reflects what it's actually like to design a product. No "empathy maps" or "user journeys," just a lot of hard work trying to define and solve problems. Recommended. ...more
Manas Saloi
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A bit counterintuitive to how most companies work. At Apple the focus is on to build great demos and keep polishing them till you get to the end result. Instead of multiple A/B testing, take the best call for the user and run with it. I loved the inside stories and this is a book I will keep going back to in the future if I need inspiration. :)
Sashko Valyus
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Interesting book with nostalgia on Golden ages of the Apple, and its renaissance in digital world. From the insider eyes we see the way the the software was developed, refined and demoed. The last activity actually give the name for the book.
The first part of the book is a bit watery but even so it was a great adventure and you feel a bit sad in the end of the book.
Recommended not only for Apple fans
Bjoern Rochel
Jun 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Ken was part of the team that created Safari and WebKit, as well as the creator of the iOS keyboard on iPhone and later the iPad. Funny enough, I use his creation to write his review.

This book is a an inside account of a software engineer during the golden age at Apple. It follows Ken though his day to day work at apple during his various projects and manages to give a pretty deep view into how Apple operated under Jobs.

From an engineering perspective a lot of what he describe sounds “just” lik
Greg Williams
Sep 30, 2018 rated it liked it
In "Creative Selection", Ken Kocienda lets us peek into the software development process for the original iPhone. With a conversational style, he describes what it was like to develop the Safari web browser and the iPhone keyboard. In the process, he ends up talking about what the software development process was like at Apple under Steve Jobs.

In a nutshell, the software process was very demo-driven (at least during the time he worked at Apple). The design of a product was honed by developing fo
Dawid Steenkamp
Oct 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Absolute waste of time.

Imagine being stuck at the Christmas Party with that guy who was with the company since its founding, the guy who's greatest claim to fame is knowing the boss from back in the glory days and just loves recycling the same old anecdotes with increasing repetitiveness.

This is the book version of it. I am sure Ken is a fantastic developer and a nice guy. Just by working on the purple project he can rightly feel satisfied that he has achieved great things in his career as a so
Artjoms Haleckis
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Today I learned that I can write a book easily. Here is what I can include there:

* How I worked on a feature in one of my previous companies and then I made a DEMO of that feature to someone important
* How I had to participate in a huge project and then we had to make a quick prototype, then spend a lot of time actually developing a thing
* How I debug my code
* How I fix compiler errors on a daily basis
* How I decided to quit a company, then current company offered me to stay to participate in a
Matt Goddard
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. It's a great insiders view of the development process during Apples most creative modern period.

It also reminded me of all the good time that can be had inside a development team. The fusion of creativity and technology to create new and interesting things.

Would recommend.
Peter Merholz
Dec 24, 2018 rated it liked it
This framing of this book is a little misleading. Waaaaaay too much time is spent talking about coding web browsers that have nothing to do with the heart of the subject. When the discussion gets to building the iPhone, and specifically the author's work on the keyboard, it gets much more interesting. ...more
Kirk Gartside
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Kocienda offers some interesting insights and anecdotes on product development at Apple. I especially enjoyed the opening chapter on his iPad demo. That emphasis on demos and feedback hit home because of some of the software development work my teams have been doing. I've thought about recommending it to a few developers, but give them the caveat that the technology portions are written for people without a software engineering background. ...more
Michael Scott
To-do full review:

i The technical story of and by one of the many coders working at Apple in the glory days of the early 2000s, the days of iPhone changing the computer industry and, likely, the way we perceive technology. A book missing the bigger picture, and thus of interest to those directly involved and to the occasional geek passionate about Apple trivia. 

i Let's not forget Apple developed the iPhone in the kind of a atmosphere that led to the late 1990s book The Inmates Are Running the As
Antonio Rodriguez
One of the best in the trenches software building memoirs

This book does an amazing job describing what a regular day-to-day stuff an engineer/designer needs to do to bring new products into the world. The Apple part is bonus; anyone who wants to build software for a living should read this, especially anyone who wants to work in new emerging domains.
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Creative Selection is, hands down, the best book I have ever read about software dev at Apple. A must read for any iOS dev. Couldn’t put it down!
Sep 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Best Peek Into Apple’s Design Process I’ve Read

There’s nothing quite like a first-person account to give a reader the feeling of being part of the development team of perhaps the most successful series of technology products in history.
Kuldeep Dhankar
Sep 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a beautiful page-turner account of Ken Kocineda's career at Apple. Of course we all know him as the guy who programmed the virtual keyboard of the original iPhone.

Ken switches back and forth between gripping accounts of the going on behind the secretive doors of Apple, and the philosophies that guide the product engineering at the company. FWIW it is a good mix and you are never bored throughout the book. I finished the book in a single session of about 3 hours and was left with the warm
Bill Calkins
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are interested in developing software, this is a book that will gives you insight into how Apple does it. Some great practical advice and some great stories about working with Scott Forstall and Steve Jobs. The name Darwin for the kernel software makes more sense after reading this book.

I wish there would be a version of this book for developers. He is very good at explaining complicated programming concepts but for those of us who understand B-trees and linked list and how to implement
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-the-shelf
Much prefer it to other era defining creativity and product development books like Creativity, Inc or Jony Ive's bio.
This one is very rational, detail oriented overview of the internal work on Safari browser and first iPhone keyboard. Has less buzzword sloganisms and more internal demo work and overcoming technical challenges. Design is making things work well, not making them look pretty and that comes from one of the key engineers at Apple.
Adrian Hon
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some interesting stories and lessons that can be summarised as:

Working demos that give the illusion of a finished product are better than brainstorming sessions
Diego Petrucci
What a lovely little book. The author offers a tiny glimpse in the process of developing some of the iPhone's iconic feature, like the touch keyboard and its smart correction. Stuff that is taken for granted these days, but that was seriously revolutionary ten years ago.

I still remember when the iPhone was announced, and the first time I saw one. It felt… impossible. We were used to tiny phones with a tiny screen, the iPhone, instead, felt like a piece of jewellery that shouldn't have worked --
Sep 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
A really insightful look into the Apple design process. I especially enjoyed Ken’s clever analogies, so that any laymen could understand his work. As a front-end web developer, I’m often working intensely on the look and feel of a product, and it was really cool to see how the masters at Apple approach this work, especially at the height of their game!

I listened to the audiobook narrated by the author, and Ken does a great job at keeping his book engaging and fresh. I was really struck by the th
Dec 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Enjoyable insider’s view on how product innovation works at Apple.

There is a recurring theme between this book and Skunk Works, in both cases there were small and secretive teams that were given a clear goal and technical freedom. With this freedom they achieved marvelous innovations. The writer of this book made multiple innovations while developing the autocorrect feature for the iPhone keyboard, which is now in everyone’s pocket.

Key quote: “Design is the way it works”. I played around with a
Scott Wozniak
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the inside account of a software developer at Apple, who worked on major projects like Safari and the first iPhone. The best part is how he gets into the details of the ideas, problems, and how they went about solving them. If you just want general principles and nice, neat models for creativity, then you might be bored with 4/5 of the book. But I actually enjoyed reading all the details, hearing the way that he thought about the specifics. But the result is that he doesn't have a replic ...more
Randa Mashnouk
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I always admire something, not from first sight nor its success, but right after I find out about all those behind-the-scenes details with the processes and many trials and errors. And right now after this book, I'm incredibly admired by the process behind simple Apple products like the first ever iPhone keyboard. I didn't think such small thing like the keyboard would play a major rule as a starting point for the age of smart phones. But its importance is shown clearly in the book. I believe I ...more
this book was mentioned a few podcast like ATP, Vector and others . The book was as great as they described it to be. An insight of how Apple sets a few people to work on a problem that most companies set a whole division to do and then this people make a working demo prototypes decide which one is the best and then iterate to improve based on the insight they have learned form using the prototypes. MOre than an overarching story this was a personal tail of what it was to work for apple during t ...more
Vivify M
Nov 09, 2018 rated it liked it
The book seems to be a wonderfully honest account of the authors experience. In that way I think it is valuable for examination. I didn't agree with everything the author said, but I very much appreciated his emphasis on the importance of grit and polish. He repeatedly described how much more time was spent on polishing and implementing, than the profound moments of design. I think this is a super important message.
The book is also a really great reminder of the importance of prototyping, rapid
Luke Kanies
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There really isn’t anywhere else to get details on how Apple builds products, which is why it’s not ranked lower. It’s not written that well, in either narrative or writing style, but the story itself is valuable, and rarely told.

It’s a fast read, and for those truly interested, ironically you likely won’t learn much, because most of it is either intuitive or visible from the outside.

My biggest take-away was essentially validation of demo culture. Everything else was either in support of that,
Waqas Ali
Jun 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book gives a behind the scenes look into Apple's product design culture nurtured under Steve Jobs. It gives interesting insights into how software design decisions at Apple were made. One doesn't need to be a developer to relate. If you have ever used an iPhone, iPad or Macbook this will be an interesting read.

The author shares his first-hand experience of how he contributed to stuff used by millions of people around the world. You find out that to create a great product being adamant, colla
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136 likes · 83 comments
“At Apple, we never would have dreamed of doing that, and we never staged any A/ B tests for any of the software on the iPhone. When it came to choosing a color, we picked one. We used our good taste—and our knowledge of how to make software accessible to people with visual difficulties related to color perception—and we moved on.” 5 likes
“We always started small, with some inspiration. We made demos. We mixed in feedback. We listened to guidance from smart colleagues. We blended in variations. We honed our vision. We followed the initial demo with another and then another. We improved our demos in incremental steps. We evolved our work by slowly converging on better versions of the vision. Round after round of creative selection moved us step by step from the spark of an idea to a finished product.” 2 likes
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