Forget app circles: Apple Watch hack lets teen run iOS 4.2.1

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Developer Billy Ellis's Apple Watch hack lets it run the preferred operating system of the iPhone 4.
I don't know; did we really miss it?
Photo: Beau Giles/Flickr. Licensed through CC BY-ND 2.0.

A 14-year-old modder has apparently managed to replace his Apple Watch’s bubbly default home screen with something a little boxier and more classic: iOS 4.2.1, which launched all the way back in 2010.

Billy Ellis, a self-described “iOS app and tweak developer,” posted a video of his project on YouTube. Check it out below:

Everything looks normal on Ellis‘ Apple Watch until he taps one of its round icons and brings up a loading screen reading “4.2.1E.” The watch resets, revealing that old, familiar interface, complete with a swipe-to-unlock feature and that ugly, brown Contacts icon.

We’re not sure if this is a true emulator since Ellis doesn’t actually open anything on it, but the video’s description says it’s “pretty hard to use on such a small screen but very cool.” We’ve reached out to Ellis for clarification and will update if he responds.

This is just the latest in a series of cool stuff modders are doing with their Apple Watches. Developer Hamza Sood recently revealed his successful attempt to bring custom faces to the wearable (learn more about his cool projects in our interview).

Back in June, developer Nick Lee got his Apple Watch running the 20-year-old System 7. His hardware was running a beta of the upcoming watchOS 2, and we’re not entirely sure why he’d want to run Big Bang on his wrist, but it was still a pretty neat trick.

This fall’s update to the Apple Watch’s operating system will let developers make apps native to the smartwatch, meaning they can run directly from the device instead of through a tether to the owner’s iPhone, as they do now. This will open up a ton of possibilities for cool new mods.

Hopefully these clever folks won’t limit themselves to bringing back outdated firmware, however. We’ve kind of been through those.

Via: Wired UK

Update (8/20): In a response to our request for comment, Ellis told Cult of Mac: “What was demoed in my video is indeed a simulator application. It’s not in any way the actual OS. But yes, once I get round to it, app launching will be possible within the simulator.”

Update 2 (8/20): Ellis posted the below video on his Twitter account, showing him opening the Settings app on his simulator:

https://twitter.com/bellis1000/status/634831056563236864