The Apple Watch has become an iconic smartwatch, but things could have been very different. Leaky photos of what appears to be an Apple Watch prototype show how far it has come since the early days of development.
Apple prototypes are extremely rare. These special photos were posted by the Twitter user @AppleDemoYT and was originally reported by 9to5 Mac. Apple also has a history of hiding its prototypes ̵
The case has two buttons on the side and something similar to the old iPhone home button, and the outside of the case seems to keep the digital crown and button we are all familiar with. The prototype also appears to run internal software that pre-updates watchOS, complete with a “Springboard zoom” app that demonstrates the watchOS home screen. Another nice Easter egg is a “Lisa Tester” app, which refers to Apple’s Lisa computer from the 80’s and has a cute Lisa Simpson icon. Another screen clearly states that the prototype has not been approved by the FCC, and as a result, it cannot be sold or leased.
The first Apple Watch was launched in 2015, so this test device probably dates back to at least 2014, or maybe earlier. Back in 2015, Wired drove one inbound piece which describes the history of the development of the Apple Watch. In it were a few descriptions of the first Apple Watch prototype, which was actually an iPhone attached to a “very nicely designed velcro strap.” It apparently also had a custom dongle in the form of “an actual bell crown that plugged into the bottom of the phone through the cord connector.”
It is always neat to see which functions and design elements end up in the end product and which are left on the scrap of history. It seems that some aspects of the prototype UI – at least the ones pictured – eventually made it watchOS. It’s a mystery exactly how this particular prototype exists, especially since Apple is known for destroying test devices and for its strong non-disclosure agreements. Recent photos from 2007 showing the production line for the very first iPhone as well appeared on Twitter. These leaks show a nice technological history – one that gadget nerds everywhere will see more of.