Developer offers glimpse inside Apple's secrecy efforts

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
A developer entrusted with a pre-release version of the iPad has detailed Apple's extensive efforts, including photographing the wood grain of the desk the device was chained to, to keep the tablet under wraps before its unveiling last year.



The developer, who created a "very successful" iPad app but wished to remain unnamed, told BusinessInsider in an interview that he was "probably the sixth person to get an iPad." In order to allow early access to a test unit, Apple presented him with strict criteria such as the use of a room with no windows and new locks.



The iPad maker also took down the names and social security numbers of the four developers allowed in the room. In order to secure the device, Apple drilled a hole in a desk and chained the prototype to it using bicycle cables. It also used custom frames to disguise the appearance of the device. Apple even went so far as to take pictures of the wood grain of the desk so that any leaked pictures could be traced back to the developer.



"We could plug into them so we could code to them and we could touch the screen and play with that, but we couldn't see the form factor," he said.



The developer was forbidden from telling anyone, not even his company's CEO or his wife, about the project. "You're going to get fired if this doesn't work," his wife told him.



The security setup as described by the developer closely resembles one pictured in a leaked photo that emerged just before the unveiling of the iPad on Jan. 27, 2010. The report also corroborates details revealed last year about Apple's provisions for developers requiring that they lock the test unit in a secret room.







Even after the formal introduction of the iPad, companies with prototype hardware were required to keep it "under padlock and key," with the key turned by Apple every night. Several of Apple's own employees noted on the eve of the device's launch that they had yet to see the iPad.



According to a report from 2009, Apple's culture of secrecy dates back to around the release of the original Macintosh in 1984. "It really started around trying to keep the surprise aspect to product launches, which can have a lot of power," said former Apple marketing guru Regis McKenna.



Apple's current security protocols require employees working on secret projects to "pass through a maze of security doors, swiping their badges again and again and finally entering a numeric code to reach their offices."



Workers testing sensitive projects are also instructed to "cover up devices with black cloaks when they are working on them, and turn on a red warning light when devices are unmasked so that everyone knows to be extra-careful."



The company is also looking to bolster its security team, recently posting two openings for Managers of New Product Security. The hires come after the company has suffered two embarrassing incidents involving iPhone prototypes lost in bars.



Last year, an Apple engineer mistakenly left a test iPhone 4 unit at a Redwood City, Calif., bar. The device was eventually sold to a publication and leaked online. In July, a prototype of the company's fifth-generation iPhone went missing at a bar in San Francisco. Apple security officials reportedly tracked the device to a residence and enlisted the help of the police department in its search for the handset.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 43
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple's current security protocols require employees working on secret projects to "pass through a maze of security doors, swiping their badges again and again and finally entering a numeric code to reach their offices."



    In a related story an employee has released this video of Apple's secret testing rooms.
  • Reply 2 of 43
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    In a related story an employee has released this video of Apple's secret testing rooms.



    Wow - that's exactly what occurred to me. Still, I don't think Apple has gone far ENOUGH to insure security. They need this.
  • Reply 3 of 43
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    I don't get the big secrecy deal. It is going to be an incremental upgrade, with rounded rectangle form factor. Big Whoop! Whatever... If you are in the market for an Apple tablet save up $500 and watch your back on the way home.
  • Reply 4 of 43
    This just show you how the like of Samsung are copying finished products and not designing theirs from scratch.
  • Reply 5 of 43
    It might sound extreme to some, but I can understand why given the evidence: Everbody says that THEY have the best tablet coming out once the iPad is announced. They talk about how amazing they will be, how they will define the tablet experience. Then, the iPad launches. They all quickly change their shorts, fire their design staff and decide to make clones (with a few notable exceptions).
  • Reply 6 of 43
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    I don't get the big secrecy deal. It is going to be an incremental upgrade, with rounded rectangle form factor. Big Whoop! Whatever... If you are in the market for an Apple tablet save up $500 and watch your back on the way home.



    I think you misread the article. It's about the secrecy before the original iPad came out, not a later version.
  • Reply 7 of 43
    hmmhmm Posts: 3,405member
    Photographing the wood grain....... really? Not one of these security ever owned a copy of photoshop?



    Removing a background happens to be one of the easiest things to do.
  • Reply 8 of 43
    Quote:

    According to a report from 2009, Apple's culture of secrecy dates back to around the release of the original Macintoch in 1984.



    Spot it?






    Back to the subject...



    I have a feeling that if Apple did not bother with all this secrecy then the products would have less of a wow factor and grandiosity and, consequently, would be less desirable. As a result I believe it does help indirectly increase profits
  • Reply 9 of 43
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mobius View Post


    I have a feeling that if Apple did not bother with all this secrecy then the products would have less of a wow factor and grandiosity and, consequently, would be less desirable. As a result I believe it does help indirectly increase profits



    On two levels because they've also have to pay more to generate the same marketing buzz that may or may not have resulted in the same increased sales from current mindshare buzz.



    I thought there was a memo for the 70s which had Apple stating they will not talk about products before they are ready. Anyone remember that?
  • Reply 10 of 43
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member
    Gort, Klatu Verata Nicto.
  • Reply 11 of 43
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,741member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tylerk36 View Post


    Gort, Klatu Verata Nicto.



    Are you implying that violating Apple's secrecy could in effect unlock an evil into this realm??



    Where's Ash and his S-Mart Boomstick??!!
  • Reply 12 of 43
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,549moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    In a related story an employee has released this video of Apple's secret testing rooms.



    It would probably have more security measures like this:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyO3hpaDISE



    I don't know why Apple doesn't just give out specially built prototype hardware with a custom form factor. It doesn't really even need to be final silicon because developers could update their app when the final hardware is released.
  • Reply 13 of 43
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    Are you implying that violating Apple's secrecy could in effect unlock an evil into this realm??



    Where's Ash and his S-Mart Boomstick??!!



    One day the mother ship will land, Klatu and Gort will welcome thier brother Steve.
  • Reply 14 of 43
    That photo looks like porn for Apple fanboy bondage fetishes.
  • Reply 15 of 43
    geekdadgeekdad Posts: 1,131member
    All this security and secrecy for the iPad...but they let 2 drunks lose the iPhone prototypes in bars.....

    Makes no sense......
  • Reply 16 of 43
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Marvin View Post


    It would probably have more security measures like this:



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyO3hpaDISE



    Touché! You win this thread, Marvin.
  • Reply 17 of 43
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by geekdad View Post


    All this security and secrecy for the iPad...but they let 2 drunks lose the iPhone prototypes in bars



    Nice character assassination. I'm a teetotaler, but I'm not biased enough to think that going to bars instantly makes you a drunk.



    Quote:

    Makes no sense......



    That's because you're not even attempting to think about why it makes perfect sense.



    Read the following like him:







    iPhone. It's a phone. It needs to be used as a phone. So people have to carry it. Like they carry their phones. And they have to take it places to test service. Service for the phone. The phone that you're carrying. The iPhone. And phones go places because people go places. People go places like bars. Their phones come with them to bars. People go to these bars and use their phones at these bars. And they probably drink. Alcohol inhibits judgement and coordination. Might not get your phone back in your pocket all the way. It falls out. You don't notice. Sensory disruption. Someone finds it. Out in the wild. Out there where they're testing phones. Because they need to be tested.



    And now you can stop.



    The second part of this is bleedingly obvious. They're not TESTING the iPads when they give them to developers. They're just for development purposes. They sat tethered to tables and immobile while people code away and occasionally touch them.



    As for the 3G iPad, heck, Apple testers had an entire month where they could use the 3G iPad out in the wild without a single person going, "WHAT THE HECK IS THAT NEW PRODUCT!?" because the Wi-Fi only model was already out.
  • Reply 18 of 43
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    That's because you're not even attempting to think about why it makes perfect sense.



    [?]



    The second part of this is bleedingly obvious. They're not TESTING the iPads when they give them to developers. They're just for development purposes. They sat tethered to tables and immobile while people code away and occasionally touch them.



    As for the 3G iPad, heck, Apple testers had an entire month where they could use the 3G iPad out in the wild without a single person going, "WHAT THE HECK IS THAT NEW PRODUCT!?" because the Wi-Fi only model was already out.



    It's silly to think that at the time Apple has device far inside its walls for only a couple eyes to see, perhaps not even as a full device but as components on a punchboard, they are also given them to developers to take out with them. Usually his posts are more well thought out so I have to assume it's just a brain fart on his part for not realizing that there could be a year or more of development time between these levels of development secrecy.
  • Reply 19 of 43
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    the release of the original Macintoch in 1984



    cover up devices with black coaks



    Today's typos -

    Pretty bad when you can't even spell the name of the product the site reports on.

    Coaks, cloaks, coats, cloths?
  • Reply 20 of 43
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by sflocal View Post


    Are you implying that violating Apple's secrecy could in effect unlock an evil into this realm??



    Where's Ash and his S-Mart Boomstick??!!



    Kids of today...

    Gort is *NOT* in Army of Darkness, and that line is originally from "The Day the Earth Stood Still".
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