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Creator of iPhone 'slide to unlock' feature to leave Apple

Greg Christie is retiring after 18 years at Apple, according to the Wall Street Journal

Creator of iPhone 'slide to unlock' feature to leave Apple
Christie is listed as an inventor on nearly 100 Apple patents including the 'slide to unlock' function.

Apple Inc's Greg Christie, who helped develop many of the functions on the iPhone including the "Slide to unlock" feature is leaving the company, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The report comes from an internal email which states that Christie is retiring and his group will now report to Apple's senior vice president of design, Jonathan Ive who is set to expand his role.

Christie, who has been working for Apple for 18 years and led the company's "human interface" team, is one of its most senior software designers and played a key role in designing the software for the iPhone.

"Greg has been planning to retire later this year after nearly 20 years at Apple," said a company spokesman. "He has made vital contributions to Apple products across the board, and built a world-class human interface team which has worked closely with [Jonathan] for many years."

Christie joined Apple in 1996 to work on the Newton, the company's personal digital assistant that had a touch screen and a stylus. He also worked extensively on the Mac's operating system before being roped into the early development team for the iPhone.

Christie is listed as an inventor on nearly 100 Apple patents and has 31 more applications pending with the patent office, the Wall Street Journal said.

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Listed as one of the inventors in the "slide to unlock" patent, Christie testified for Apple last week in its patent-infringement suit against Samsung Electronics Co. As this patent is one of the five features that Apple is accusing Samsung of infringing upon, Christie detailed how the iPhone came to dominate his life for the 2½ years before its release in 2007.

He said: "From 2005 through to the announcement in January and sale in June 2007, it was pretty much nonstop. You had to be prepared to discuss what you were working on at any time of the day, any day of the week, any week of the month."

Christie's departure was first reported by Apple enthusiast website 9to5Mac. According to the website, a person familiar with the matter said Christie and Ive sometimes struggled to agree on software-design decisions.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Christie's departure from the company comes as Ive has expanded his role into software. Ive played a central role in redesigning iOS 7. Next to Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, Ive is the company's most recognisable executive. A confidant of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs who regularly appears in videos for new products, Ive is seen as a torchbearer for Apple's design sensibility.

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