Departure of Key Apple Executive Behind iPhone Innovations Raises Questions


Steve Hotelling, Apple Inc.’s vice president overseeing touch-screen technology, health sensors, and Face ID, is reportedly leaving the company, according to sources familiar with the matter. Hotelling, who played a pivotal role in developing some of Apple’s most critical technologies for the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and the upcoming Vision Pro headset, is known for his involvement in inventing the Touch ID feature.

Hotelling’s extensive contributions are reflected in hundreds of patents, particularly in multitouch screen technology for the iPhone and iPad. His departure marks the end of a two-decade-long career at Apple, during which he represented the company in high-profile trials, including a case against Samsung Electronics Co. over iPhone patents and, more recently, as a key witness in a trial with Masimo Corp. regarding health sensor patents.

While a spokesperson for Apple declined to comment on Hotelling’s departure, sources indicate that his responsibilities will be distributed among several direct reports to Johny Srouji, senior vice president of hardware technologies. Alan Gilchrist, now managing the camera and depth sensor teams, and Wei Chen, overseeing various display technologies, are among those taking on Hotelling’s responsibilities.

Hotelling’s legacy includes overseeing Apple’s camera engineering team, contributing to custom sensor development, and leading efforts in augmented reality’s depth-sensing technologies. He played a crucial role in the company’s push to make photography a central selling point for its devices. His departure comes at a critical juncture as Apple’s hardware technologies group endeavors to replace essential components with in-house technology, shipping its first 3-nanometer Mac processors while facing challenges in other areas like cellular modems, new wireless chips, and the development of Apple’s inaugural microLED displays. Additionally, the team is working on a project to create a noninvasive blood sugar sensor.

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