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HUAWEI hires Apple designer to help make their UI look less like Apple's

Former Apple designer Abigail Brody has been brought aboard the HUAWEI team to bring the company's software interface into the 21st century.

Published onJune 22, 2016

Photo credit: Florian Brody
Photo credit: Florian Brody

HUAWEI has big plans. Global plans. The plucky Chinese smartphone maker has seen a massive amount of success in China, and with command of 8% of the market, they are the third-largest smartphone maker in the world (behind Samsung and Apple).

However, the company has kind of struggled to get a sturdy foothold outside of China. Some of this has to do with their software and visual design elements, which seem horrifically dated to those accustomed to modern aesthetics. One accusation that HUAWEI gets a lot is that their UI cribs much of its appearance from Apple. So HUAWEI has hatched a counter-intuitive plan: to make their phones look less like iPhones, they have hired one of the designers who was instrumental in conceiving of the iPhone’s UI appearance.

HUAWEI in hot water with the Feds for possible export violations of US tech to Iran, North Korea

Her name is Abigail Brody, and last year she was put in charge of making fundamental changes in HUAWEI’s Android skin EMUI. With the next update to EMUI slated for September, Brody will have to work quickly to get her ideas to a reality, but she seems unconcerned. In an Interview with The Information, Brody revealed that she and a single engineer took a “mere week to ‘invent’ the core DNA of the visual attributes that informed the iPhone’s appearance that was shown at launch in 2007.”

The new version of EMUI is expected to ditch a variety of Apple-esque features (like square icons with rounded corners) and gain more Android-like attributes (like an app drawer). Brody also says she’s doing away with a lot of HUAWEI’s dull colors and clumsy design language and replacing them with a brighter, Material Design feel.

The world’s first truly soulful, emotional, all-empowering and compassionate Operating System of the human mind and soul.

Brody wants HUAWEI’s smartphones to boast the “world’s first truly soulful, emotional, all-empowering and compassionate Operating System of the human mind and soul.” A person of strong opinions, Brody also prefers not to use the term “smartphone,” favoring “magic book” instead. “I’m not [at HUAWEI] to be a little designer,” said Brody to The Information. “I’m here to change the world.”

Whether or not this UI facelift will be enough to give HUAWEI the edge it needs to tackle the global market remains to be seen. While we wait around to see this former Apple designer’s fingerprints on the Chinese company’s software, let us know what you think of this development in the comments below.

(Update: Samsung threatens countersuit) HUAWEI sues Samsung for patent infringement