The Wall Street Journal was granted an interview with Greg Christie, a senior software engineer who played a vital role in the development of the original iPhone software. How it would work, interact with hardware and how Steve Jobs almost reassigned the project to another development team at Apple. In advance of an important patent lawsuit involving Samsung, Apple is granting access to Christie, one of the key figures in developing the iPhone software. Their goal is to help illustrate how innovative the iPhone was when it was introduced in 2007. The result is a captivating article with insight into the early thinking beyond some of the features.
Christie recounts how Steve Jobs was unhappy with the pace of the development, wanting ‘bigger ideas and bigger concepts’, instituting a deadline of two weeks before the project would get moved to another group of software developers. Christie was first approached by Scott Forstall, when he was asked to work on a secret project, codenamed ‘purple’. This would a touch driven phone that doubled as a music player.
His team was responsible for features like slide to unlock, making calls from the address book and the iPod app which would eventually become the Music app. They poured over details such as perfecting the scrolling speed of lists and the ‘bounce back’ when reaching the end of a list. Christie had meetings with Jobs twice a month, in a window-less room where very few had access and cleaning staff were not permitted.
In early 2005, Jobs gave the go-ahead to bring the iPhone to life. What followed was what Christie calls a “two and half year marathon“, with Jobs obsessing over every detail. The rest is history.