Former Apple Engineer Francisco Tolmasky on the Creation of Mobile Safari and iOS

Brian X. Chen, writing for the NYT:

“Each one of these things is basically one person,” said Mr. Tolmasky, while tapping his finger on some of the app icons on the packaging for the first iPhone. While all members of the software team worked together on the many different software elements on the original iPhone before it shipped, each piece had a person leading it. Mr. Tolmasky said he was the point man on mobile Safari.

He told how several of the iPhone’s apps and key features came to be created. The keyboard, he said, was the result of a sort of hackathon run by Mr. Jobs. The chief executive had been unhappy with the keyboard prototypes for the iPhone, so he assigned everyone on the team to work only on keyboards for an entire week. An engineer on Mr. Tolmasky’s team won the contest, and from then on his full-time job was to work on the iPhone keyboard.

It’s certainly unusual for a former Apple employee to speak so openly and take so much personal credit for their work at the company. Most stick to the code of silence not out of fear, but because they left the company on good terms and want to keep the door open to perhaps return someday. I suspect Tolmasky doesn’t have to worry about that. (And it strikes me as highly dubious that a 20-year-old, no matter how talented, was in charge of Mobile Safari.)

Tolmasky’s new iPad game, Bonsai Slice, looks interesting, though.

Friday, 25 April 2014