Tony Fadell

Video: former Apple executives recount original iPhone creation

Apple earlier this year celebrated the tenth anniversary of the original iPhone's unveiling. And as we approach the tenth anniversary of the handset's June 29, 2007 debut, Christopher Mims of the Wall Street Journal sat down with the original iPhone team members who recounted designing the handset's touchscreen interface and more.

Running nine minutes long, the interview features former iOS chief Scott Forstall, former Vice President of Human Interface Design Greg Christie and the iPod “Godfather” Tony Fadell.

Fadell's team was tasked with the development of a device that was basically an iPod with a phone. It featured a clunky hardware keyboard and ran a version of the iPod interface.

“We tried 30 or 40 ways of making the wheel not become an old rotary phone dial and nothing seemed logical or intuitive,” said Fadell. “To actually dial a real number, it was so cumbersome.”

It was 2005 and Jobs was displeases with the direction of “Project Purple”.

“We’d been doing a lot designs which weren’t quite there yet. It didn’t feel complete. And Steve came to one of our design meetings and he said, ‘This isn’t good enough. You have to come up with something so much better. This is not good enough'”, Fadell recounted.

“Start showing me something good soon or I’m going to give the project to another team,” Christie paraphrased Jobs. According to Forstall, Jobs gave the team two weeks to come up with something special.

“So we went back to the drawing board and Greg assigned specific ownership of different pieces of the design to different people and that team worked 168 hours per week for two weeks. They never stopped,” said Forstall. Eventually, Forstall and Christie's vision for the user interface of the original iPhone, based on OS X code, prevailed over Fadell's click-wheel design.

Christie reflected on how their early iPhone interface designs blew Steve Jobs away:

The first time he saw it he was completely silent, he didn't say a thing. He didn't say anything, he didn't gesture, he didn't ask a question.

Then he sat back and he said, 'Show it to me again.'

And so we go through the whole thing again and Steve was pretty much blown away by the whole demonstration. It was great work.

It took them nearly two and a half years to turn that demonstration into a shipping product.

A ping pong table sized demo had a projector that was beaming a Mac interface on it, allowing engineers to use their whole hand to touch different things on it. “It was literally a ping pong sized multi-touch display,” said Tony Fadell.

And now, watch The Wall Street Journal's full video, titled "How The iPhone Was Born: Inside Stories of Missteps and Triumphs”.

According to Fadell, back at the time sales of the iPod music player accounted for half of Apple's total sales so they wondered about iPod's success long term and kept asking themselves what will cannibalize sales of the music player.

“And one of the biggest concerns was cell phones,” said Fadell.

The three former Apple execs also talk about pinch to zoom, rubber-band scrolling and more. Be sure to watch the whole thing, it's definitely worth ten minutes of your time.

Tony Fadell steps down as Nest CEO

Tony Fadell is stepping down as CEO of Nest, he announced in a blog post on Friday. The former Apple engineer and founder of the smart thermostat/device company, which was purchased by Google in 2014 for $3 billion, says he's moving into an "advisor" role to Alphabet and CEO Larry Page.

Despite recent reports of turmoil within the company, Fadell insists that the move is amicable and the transition has been in progress since late last year. He says he's leaving the company to new CEO Marwan Fawaz, who was previously CTO of cable company Charter, with a two-year roadmap in place.

How a journalist convinced Jobs to bring iTunes to PCs and other tidbits from Tony Fadell interview

It was The Wall Street Journal technology columnist Walt Mossberg, one of Steve Jobs's favorite reviewers, of all people who has finally managed to persuade then Apple CEO to expand the addressable market for iPods by bringing iTunes to Windows PCs.

Jobs, Nest founder Tony Fadell and then Apple executive charged with iPod and iPhone development recalls, long insisted that the iPod be used as a vehicle to increase Mac sales. “Steve, the iPod is $399. But really it’s not. Because you have to buy a Mac!” We had to give people a taste,” Fadell recalls telling Jobs, to no avail.

He eventually relented and agreed that Apple should bring iTunes to Windows, under one condition: the software was to be tested by journalist Walt Mossberg. “We’re going to build these and run it by Mossberg,” Jobs reportedly said. “And if Mossberg says it’s good enough to ship, then we’ll ship it.”

Walt reportedly said, “Not bad. I’d ship it,” and the rest is history.

Steve Jobs considered Apple car eight years ago

According to the famous iPod creator, former Apple engineer and Nest founder Tony Fadell, Steve Jobs did consider an idea of Apple building a car as far back as 2008, but ultimately decided not to move forward because he had other projects on his mind.

In a video interview with Bloomberg, Fadell said that Jobs and himself discussed how a hypothetical Apple car would we build, what features it would have, what a dashboard would be like and so forth.

Why Google Glass as we know it is dead

Nick Bilton of the New York Times is out with a fantastic piece detailing why Google Glass as we know it has been killed off by the Mountain View based company. Born out of the futuristic Google X lab, the headset was not only plagued by problems, but it was receiving attention from the mass-market that Google just wasn't ready for. 

Tony Fadell on Nest deal, relationship with Apple, Google data sharing, home automation and more

The iPod Godfather and Nest Labs co-founder and CEO, Tony Fadell, sat down with Bloomberg at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to talk specifics of the recently announced $3.2 billion Google deal, why he sold to the search monster, Nest's relationship with Apple, the future of controlling household products and a few other topics of interests, here are your soundbites...

Nest founder Tony Faddell spotted with Jony Ive’s (RED) Mac Pro

Remember last month when we told you that Jony Ive's one-of-a-kind Mac Pro sold for nearly $1 million at his Product (RED) auction? And do you remember thinking who in the world would pay that much money for a computer? Well it looks like the answer is Tony Faddell.

Photographer Kevin Abosch posted a handful of tweets this afternoon with photos of the 'father of the iPod' and Nest founder posing next to the (RED) Mac Pro, as well as the solid gold EarPods from the same auction. The two items combined sold for close to $1.5 million...

iPod Godfather says Apple built Google Glass style eyewear prototypes

Tony Fadell, the brains behind the popular Nest thermostat, used to work at Apple where he'd helped engineer the iPod music player, earning him a nickname of the iPod Godfather. He also led the development of the first eighteen iterations of the original iPhone. In a recent interview, the famous engineer revealed that Apple in the past had experimented with the idea of a virtual reality headset and has actually built a few prototypes of a Google Glass-style device.

"The craziest thing we talked about was something like Google glass," says former Senior VP of iPod division...