Creation of Original iPhone Browser Detailed by Former Apple Engineer

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 24, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Countless details on the development of the original iPhone have been shared by various Apple employees in several different publications, but a new story on the creation of the phone's first web browser has surfaced courtesy of Francisco Tolmasky, an early iPhone engineer who interviewed with The New York Times.

    Tolmasky joined Apple when he was just 20 years old, working under Steve Jobs to create a mobile web browser for the original iPhone. Jobs regularly gave him feedback on his project, often sending Tolmasky back to the drawing board because his creation wasn't "magical" enough.
    Countless hours of work resulted in Safari for iPhone, which used WebKit to load web pages on a small screen and allowed users to interact with sites via pinches, swipes, and taps.

    As with other accounts of the iPhone's creation, Tolmasky details the intense security behind the project, explaining how the software team was split into sections focusing on web and apps. "Each one of these things is basically one person," explained Tolmasky, speaking of the original iPhone apps.

    In one anecdote, Tolmasky divulges the origin of the iPhone's keyboard, which reportedly came about during a week-long hackathon where Jobs instructed the software team to work only on keyboard prototypes. The engineer who won the hackathon was assigned to the keyboard permanently.

    According to Tolmasky, Apple's original iPhone Maps app was a last minute addition to the device, as Jobs decided the app should be added just a few weeks before the smartphone was first introduced at the Macworld Expo in January of 2007. It only took his teammate, Chris Blumenberg, a week to have a workable prototype.
    Tolmasky left Apple shortly after the original iPhone was released as the company no longer felt like a startup, and now he works as a mobile game designer. His most recent creation, Bonsai Slice [Direct Link], was released today. Tolmasky's full interview and additional details on his game can be found in the original NYT piece.

    Article Link: Creation of Original iPhone Browser Detailed by Former Apple Engineer
  2. FakeWozniak macrumors 6502


    Nov 8, 2007
    Very smart, share a little bit about early Apple development process, quote Steve Jobs, and advertise your new product in the process. This guy just made a million bucks from the NYT story.
  3. Chrjy macrumors 6502a


    May 19, 2010
    Absolutely but who can blame him!

    Although the comment about Apple no longer felt like a 'Start-Up' is slightly weird to say the least....not sure what he was smoking!
  4. taptic macrumors 65816


    Dec 5, 2012
    This is probably the worst idea I have ever seen for a game!

    "Yeah, I broke my iPad playing Bonsai Slice... sweaty hands and all..."


    "Now you can invite friends to look like idiots with you! Challenge each other to see who can achieve take-off first!"
  5. slffl macrumors 65816


    Mar 5, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    It's amazing what the talent at Apple accomplish with a fraction of the time and people it takes Google to do the same thing.
  6. gjvon macrumors member


    Jul 2, 2012
    Houston, Texas (Born and raised a Texan)
    agreed 100%
  7. Since macrumors newbie

    Oct 31, 2012
    When these engineers' names are exposed like this... other companies will hunt for them. :)
  8. Urban Joe macrumors 6502

    Mar 19, 2012
    FWIW I think the current keyboard really has lots of room for improvement.

    Just look at some of the 3rd party keyboards that are really kicking ass now days. I think Apple should either

    1) Acquire one of these companies.

    2) Allow 3rd party keyboards on iOS

    3) Offer some LSD and see if they can't stir up a little creativity within their own ranks (joking)
  9. musika macrumors 65816


    Sep 2, 2010
    New York
    "No longer felt like a startup"?

    That's a pretty immature way to look at things, but alright.
  10. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040


    Sep 8, 2011
    Boston, MA
    From my experience, start-up means low pay, poor benefits or no benefits, long hours, questionable future, very very hard work, uncomfortable working space. It also means freedom to be creative, has a better-than-the-lottery chance of cashing in on the equity at some point, and to some extent being in control of one's own future.

    I think people often incorrectly think start-up means soho-style loft offices, napping pods, bringing your dog to work, no dress code, and brand new macbook's every year for all employees.
  11. jyen macrumors regular

    Oct 29, 2012
    Steve would've allowed this. :cool:
  12. larrylaffer macrumors 6502


    Aug 1, 2009
    Los Angeles
    I'm pretty sure an engineer working for Apple in 2007 would have quite a bit of equity to cash in today.
  13. gm713 macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2012
    Can you blame him? It's called marketing. After all he does have bragging rights. Where the game is concerned, does it sell iPad insurance as an in-app purchase?
  14. groovyd macrumors 6502a


    Jun 24, 2013
    chump change for the guy who wrote the first iphone safari... he deserves it all.
  15. Jimmy James macrumors 68030

    Oct 26, 2008
    He needs to market his new product. May as well break an old NDA to gain some publicity.
  16. KALLT macrumors 601

    Sep 23, 2008
    I think it’s hilarious that Jobs actually insisted on a ‘magical’ browser. :D
  17. MiesVanDerRobot macrumors member

    Aug 28, 2012
    Consider things from his perspective: during the development of the iPhone he was working on a tiny team and had complete ownership of an entire app. That is thoroughly start-up like.

    In the original NYT article that is not even a direct quote from him, but the reporter's interpretation of what he said. Given that the article also indirectly reports him giving a "rare window into the company’s start-up-like product development," the "no longer felt like a start-up" paraphrase makes perfect sense in context:

    "Mr. Tolmasky said he left Apple in late 2007 because by then, the iPhone had become such a success that the team had to grow and priorities changed. It no longer felt like a start-up, so he left to start his own."

    Clearly, he's someone who likes to own a project, not share it with a team of 10 or 20. He prefers broad-stroke inventing to focused work in a narrower niche. That kind of self-knowledge as a developer is the exact opposite of immature and weird. It's mature and wonderful and all too rare.

    I am sure he is ten times as happy and productive doing what he does now as he would have been as one cog in the machine at Apple. And there are plenty of developers who prefer to have highly-focused expertise and responsibilities. I am sure one of them is being far more effective in his old job than he would have been.

    The whole workforce wins when people are smart enough to put themselves in situations that play to their strengths.
  18. rdlink macrumors 68040


    Nov 10, 2007
    Out of the Reach of the FBI
    Or, "My friend and I both broke our displays because we were standing too close to each other while playing Slice."
  19. macduke macrumors 604


    Jun 27, 2007
    Central U.S.
    Well, when I was his age…wait a minute. I am his age. When we were our age, he was making Mobile Safari directly under Steve Jobs, and I was just dinking around in my dorm room—waiting for my Motorola Rokr E1 to take 45 minutes to sync 100 songs from iTunes. How pathetic.
  20. Arndroid macrumors 6502a


    Oct 3, 2013
    People may not remember how amazing the original iPhone browser was compared to aha existed. It truly was magical. As one of the few crazies who waited in long lines to have the original iPhone day one, the web browser was perhaps the most amazing part of the device.

    Being able to render full web pages on a device so small was revolutionary. All previous attempts at mobile web browsing were an affront to god and nature.

    People take the experience for granted now but it truly was amazing back then.
  21. cyberdogl2 macrumors regular

    Jan 6, 2003
    sorry to blindly quote, but this is hilarious

    steve jobs so boss. sucks for Margaret
  22. Will do good macrumors 6502a

    Will do good

    Mar 24, 2010
    Wow, what a smart guy.

    Works for SJ at 20, sold a company for 20 million and he's only 29 now.

  23. Traverse macrumors 603


    Mar 11, 2013
    It truly was the first powerful mobile web browser.
  24. mistafro macrumors regular

    Aug 24, 2003
    That it was, truly magical indeed...

    All we can hope is that someone within is currently lighting a fire under asses...
  25. petsounds macrumors 65816

    Jun 30, 2007
    No offense intended to this guy, but it doesn't sound like he really fit the Apple culture. Frustrated? He got to work directly with Steve Jobs when he was 20 on the most important product of the decade. A lot of people (me included) have worked insane hours at startups for products that no one's even heard of! I would've killed for the opportunity he had!

Share This Page