Starting just before WWDC the entire Mac world was abuzz with talk of the iPhone. Would there be an iPhone SDK? Would there be demo units for developers to test on? Questions and curiosity permeated almost every Mac user. Developers attending WWDC and even San Francisco locals wondered if they’d see iPhones popping out of the pockets of proud Apple Engineers lucky enough to be using the pre-release units. At the peak of this fervor, on June 13, an image was posted to Flickr of a young man riding the Caltrain and using an iPhone. Seeing the man’s short, dark hair and characteristic five o’clock shadow many concluded this was Mike Matas, former Delicious Monster UI designer and current Apple UI guru, using the pre-release iPhone on his commute. Well, the “unofficial” details on the iPhone-Caltrain photo situation, from sources at Apple are as follows…
First, and not really surprisingly, the photo is legitimate.
Second, many employees with access to the iPhone have been using them, often in public, with permission, since sometime in May. In other words, this iPhone slip-up isn’t that unexpected and not really that big of a deal from Apple’s perspective. During the period where the finalized iPhone UI was strictly guarded many of the iPhones in the wild for testing in had unusual dummy user interfaces in place of the smooth interface we now know the iPhone to use.
Third, the actual rules of iPhone use before the official release on June 29th have been fairly loose. Using an iPhone in public is fine, showing it casually to someone is okay – but letting someone else handle or use your iPhone is strictly forbidden. Even sending email from the iPhone has been permitted, each email message automatically stating “Sent from my iPhone”. These ground-rules for iPhone use seem to have been made a bit more strict than usual during WWDC, more than likely just to prevent iPhone holders from being harassed or mugged while commuting to, or partying after WWDC each day.
Finally, the individual in the posted iPhone shot is not Mike Matas but Tim Omernick, coincidentally also previously of Delicious Monster. Tim is a developer for the team working on the iPhone so it follows that he would indeed have access to one. Tim, who formally sported a beard and longer hair resembles Matas quite strongly with a similar hair cut and shave.
It doesn’t sound like anyone is in too deep of trouble for this whole incident, but it was helped us understand a bit better what has gone on behind the scenes with the creation and testing of the iPhone.
(Photo via chasingfun)