Apple takes security to highest level for Sept. 9 event


CUPERTINO, California -- What's inside the mystery building Apple is fabricating for its big September 9 event? The giant construction project is almost as big of an enigma as what the iWatch will actually look like or do.

The boxy structure, which sprang up behind the Flint Center for the Performing Arts here on the De Anza College campus, looks like a cross between an igloo and a winning confection on Cake Wars.  Naturally, the enormous two-to-three story building sparked intense curiosity among the Apple faithful when pictures emerged Thursday, so we had to go take a look for ourselves.

Will it hold something as mundane as a demo area where tech journalists can fondle Apple's latest, greatest gear? Does it contain a full-size home of the future to show off amazing HomeKit implementations? Will it house a runway for an Apple wearables fashion show or a giant stage for a post-announcement Dr. Dre concert?

Whatever it holds, it is truly a massive undertaking. It's surrounded by green fences and countless security guards. We, like you, can't wait for Apple's big reveal — here's what we saw walking around the outskirts of the secretive project Thursday afternoon.
Apple is taking security for its big Sept. 9 event to a new level. Phones are being searched, cameras are covered in special tape and everyone is "super-paranoid." Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

With less than 24 hours to go, security precautions for Apple’s big press event Tuesday have been taken to unprecedented levels.

Apple has wired the entire event auditorium — the Flint Center for the Performing Arts — with a brand new, state-of-the-art security system to lock down access and prevent leaks.

The auditorium is crawling with 24-hour security personnel. Anyone working at the massive show, from caterers to construction staff and technicians, is required to submit their phones to Apple’s security team. The phones’ cameras are being covered in special tamper-proof tape, which changes color if removal is attempted.

“If it changes color, we’ll be fired on the spot,” said one person who is working at the show but asked to remain anonymous.

In addition, Apple security personnel are carefully scrutinizing the phones for unauthorized pictures or messages, looking for any attempts to communicate details of the event to the outside.

“We were told that we should erase anything embarrassing from our phones because security will be going through them with a fine-tooth comb.”

“We were told that we should erase anything embarrassing from our phones because security will be going through them with a fine-tooth comb,” the person said.

Apple has a reputation for being one of the most secretive organizations in the world. Security for Apple’s events is always tight, but this time the precautions appear to be more elaborate than ever.

The Flint Center’s 2,400-seat auditorium sits on the campus of De Anza College, a leafy community college in Cupertino, California, that’s not far from Apple headquarters. The company has revealed some of its most important devices in the theater, including the original Macintosh in 1984 and the first iMac, the machine that kick-started Apple’s comeback.

This time, Apple seems to be going all-out on a big event that will likely see the introduction of two new iPhones and possibly a health/fitness device that could define a new category of wearable smartphone accessories.

For the event, Apple has built a large, special-purpose building next to the Flint Center. Its purpose remains a mystery, but it’s likely for hands-on product demonstrations after the keynote, which will be livestreamed starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday.

To keep the building’s purpose secret, Apple flew in a team of specialist contractors from the United Kingdom, the anonymous staffer said. The U.K. crew has been working on the building’s exterior for many days but have been kept from having any contact with anyone else working at the show.

Apple conducted rehearsals of its event over the weekend, and the trial runs continue today.

The anonymous staffer has not been allowed anywhere near the outside building, which is strictly off-limits to anyone without authorization.

“We’re not allowed to wander around,” the staffer said.

Indeed, everything is strictly quarantined. Everyone working at the show has been assigned strict roles and areas that they are allowed to access.

“There are no communications in or out,” the staffer said. “Everyone thinks Apple is tapping our phones and monitoring what we say. Everyone is super-paranoid.”


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