A Twitter user by the name of @AppleDemoYT has posted images online they claim to be an early Apple Watch prototype, built as part of the pre-production process before Apple introduced the device in 2015.
Such prototypes are very rare, with Apple preferring not to show images that shed light on how it develops products. Somehow this one made it out in one piece — provided it’s legitimate, of course.
My favourite UI development test screen on the Prototype Apple Watch. The “Springboard zoom” app (located in Lisa Tester) shows an interactive representation of the home screen. #appleinternal pic.twitter.com/qF7Ge9qd8D
— Apple Demo (@AppleDemoYT) December 27, 2020
The accompanying message notes:
“Prototype Apple Watch with Security Case runs an Internal Pre-WatchOS 1.0 build, complete with internal testing apps and development settings. It’s extremely amazing that something like this could still exist; without having been destroyed. #appleinternal”
There are a few neat touches that can be seen in the interface. One of my favorites is an icon showing Lisa Simpson, a reference to the Apple Lisa. The icon is the so-called Lisa Tester, which contains a “SpringBoard zoom” app that shows an interactive representation of the Home screen. Along with two buttons on the side, the prototype also has what looks like an iPhone-style Home button. This never made it into the final release version.
Even if this is a genuine prototype, it’s not clear whether this is a design Apple ever considered possible to release. Many of Apple’s prototypes are built for testing software. Others are disguised to allow outside testing without risking giving away the actual design.
Still, it’s fascinating to get this glimpse into Apple Watch history. It’s also amazing just how far this particular product has evolved since its debut.