Original iPhone Engineer Greg Christie Gives Details on Development Process

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    A few new insider details on the development of the original iPhone have come to light thanks to Apple senior software engineer Greg Christie, who gave an interview with The Wall Street Journal with permission from Apple, ahead of a new patent infringement trial against Samsung that is set to begin soon.

    According to Christie, who joined the secret "purple" iPhone project after an invitation from Scott Forstall, his team was responsible for many key iPhone elements, such as sliding to unlock, placing calls from the address book, and more. He and his team spent countless hours perfecting details like the speed of scrolling, and the feel of bouncing back at the end of a list.
    Christie gave two progress reports to Jobs each month, in a small, windowless meeting room at the company's Cupertino headquarters. Few people had access to the room and even cleaning people were not allowed to enter. The secrecy surrounding the original iPhone's design was incredible, with Jobs even requiring employees to encrypt images of the device.

    Jobs was initially unhappy with Christie's progress on the device, and gave his team two weeks to improve.
    Christie's team was able to impress Jobs within the deadline, later giving presentations to Apple's design chief Jony Ive and Apple director Bill Cambell, who said the iPhone "would be better than the original Mac." All three approved the 2005 design, kicking off a "2 and a half year marathon" where the iPhone was designed from the ground up with Jobs clearing every minor detail, as has been noted in several previous reports of the iPhone's development.

    Christie's details on the creation of the original iPhone come just ahead of a second major patent infringement lawsuit with Samsung, set to begin later in March. Apple initially accused Samsung of grossly infringing on both its patents and its designs in 2011, a lawsuit that resulted in a $890 million penalty for the South Korean company in the United States.

    While the first lawsuit covered older devices, the second U.S. patent lawsuit between the two companies covers more recent products like the Galaxy Note II, the Galaxy S III, the iPhone 5, and the iPad 4.

    The full interview on The Wall Street Journal, which is well worth reading, also includes additional tidbits on the secrecy behind the development of the iPhone, major last minute changes, and details on the original iPhone's unveiling.

    Article Link: Original iPhone Engineer Greg Christie Gives Details on Development Process
  2. xFerrr macrumors member


    Jun 2, 2011
    well, we already knew steve as very obsessive with details. I'd like to know the number of employes tho
  3. 840quadra Moderator


    Staff Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    Twin Cities Minnesota
    I am curious what the quantity of development team members has to do with the overall product released? :confused:

    Regardless, continued insight on the processes that lead to the iPhone being released are great. Reminds me quite a bit of the Folklore.org project relaying history of Macintosh development.
  4. needfx, Mar 25, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014

    needfx macrumors 68040


    Aug 10, 2010
    macrumors apparently
    I am tired of hearing "designed from the ground up"

    to answer the below question and people who agree with it, ever since apple used it, all new products by other companies, either hardware or software related, has been used restlessly ever since, as if all copywriters have vanished from the face of the earth.
  5. xionxiox macrumors regular


    Jul 20, 2010
    why? :confused:
  6. ChrisTX macrumors 68030


    Dec 30, 2009
    It's funny how many of the technologies from the original iPhone we often take for granted in our current smartphones. I even recall users of Blackberries and other various smartphones poking fun at iPhone users and their "pinchers" because of the touch capabilities and pinch to zoom. Oh how the iPhone changed it all. What a great read!
  7. TheRainKing macrumors 6502a


    Jun 11, 2012
    How Apple miss Steve and his eye for detail and perfectionism.
  8. Clubber macrumors member

    May 29, 2009
  9. bwillwall macrumors 6502a


    Dec 24, 2009
    "Making the solution seem so completely inevitable and obvious, so uncontrived and natural - it's so hard!"
    Jonathan Ive
  10. BillyMatt87 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 23, 2013
    That attention to small details and perfectionism died with iOS 7 and Jony Ive's train-wreck software "design"
  11. penplotter macrumors regular

    Mar 23, 2014
    "and the feel of bouncing back at the end of a list"

    That's called "rubber banding", Mr editor.

    I thought this was an Apple-centric site... :confused:


    ... which is functionally 98% identical, apart from the UI element theme and typeface.


    "Designed from the ground up"

  12. VanillaCracker macrumors 68020


    Apr 11, 2013
    Washington D.C.
    Couldn't agree more :(
  13. penplotter, Mar 25, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2014

    penplotter macrumors regular

    Mar 23, 2014
    Try! :p


    If you're unable to agree more, try agreeing LESS :p
  14. winston1236 macrumors 68000

    Dec 13, 2010
    I don't remember that. I recall everyone wishing their blackberry could do that.
  15. zorinlynx macrumors 601


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
    "He said his team "banged their head against the wall" over how to change text messages from a chronological list of individual messages to a series of separate ongoing conversations similar to instant messaging on a computer."

    I don't get it, my Treo 650 (which came out in 2004!!) was able to do this. I think prior Treos also did text messaging in individual conversation views as well. This was nothing new when the iPhone came out in 2007; why did Apple have such a hard time figuring it out?
  16. MacVista macrumors 6502

    Jun 18, 2007
    That is why I'm holding on to iOS6 and Snow Leopard for as long as I can…
    Just like my Mac 128. When Scully produced those awful ProFormas I had to switch to Windows.
    Scully without Jobs reminds me of Ives and Cook of today.
  17. penplotter macrumors regular

    Mar 23, 2014
    They wanted to do it RIGHT, not just do it as an afterthought.
  18. Lazy macrumors 6502

    May 27, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    The fewer people working on a software project the better, for efficiency of communication and coherence of ideas. But that's a tradeoff against how much work any one person can do, even with Steve Jobs getting on their case.
  19. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    Tell me about it. Crappy Windows Mobile could do it too, but don't let the youngling hear that those features were pretty standard on every smartphone.

    I love how the iPhone changed the aesthetic, and gave users a REAL device that was easy to use, but the iPhone took all of 6 years to gain features that a Treo 600w and Palm TX had by default.
  20. penplotter macrumors regular

    Mar 23, 2014

    Exactly. As a case in point (forget that it compares iOS to Android; it's true, but the point of my linking to this is how iOS threads prioritise UI rendering):

  21. The Doctor11 macrumors 603

    The Doctor11

    Dec 15, 2013
    New York
    By saying the feel of bouncing back at the end of the list they were helping the reader see it in their head. Rubber banding tells you what it is but doesn't really show you.
  22. zorinlynx macrumors 601


    May 31, 2007
    Florida, USA
    I'm not certain how the Treo did it wrong.

    In fact, the Treo's SMS view was pretty much identical to the iPhones. You could see your list of conversations, sorted by most recent activity, and when you open one you would see your conversation threaded. Just like the iPhone does it.

    Sure, the iPhone's implementation was prettier, but I don't understand why they had to bang their heads so hard to come up with this.

    (Note that I have an iPhone and enjoy it; I'm not one of those annoying Android trolls. Just curious here.)
  23. Michael Scrip macrumors 601

    Mar 4, 2011
    It's hard to imagine another company putting this much effort into any product they create.

    Apple is SO detail oriented.
  24. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

    Dec 23, 2006
    In my imagination
    You'd be surprise how little Apple puts into a lot.

    Also, you'd be surprised how a corporate model plays with all of this.

    Lastly, you'd be surprised that a good deal of other companies put just as much time into their products; good, quality products is not uniquely Apple. That's been around for a very VERY long time.

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