Apple Watch prototype exposes the company's 'Ultra' security testing program

Steve Dent
·Associate Editor
·1-min read

A video leak appears to show a Watch prototype and reveals how Apple gets such devices to developers while still keeping them under a veil of “ultra” security. Released by a leak site called Apple Demo and first discovered via The Verge, it shows a Watch development unit running a pre-WatchOS 1.0 build, complete with Apple’s own internal development apps.

The first thing you see is the box it came in, which is more interesting than it sounds. “This product is classified as Apple Confidential and is designated an ‘Ultra’ security program,” the label on the rear declares. “This prototype MUST be returned when recalled.” Other parts of the sticker are masked to hide its origins, but a “PVTe” designation on the rear shows it’s likely for Prototype Validation Testing.

The device is a good deal larger than a Watch and has a home button but no crown. Once turned on, it shows the Watch apps, including Apple’s internal testing software. One of those, the Lisa tester (with Lisa Simpson’s head as an icon), lets developers adjust the UI elements on the prototype Watch. One of the settings within that app shows Springboard Zoom, a setting that resembles the UI on the original Watch.

There’s no proof that the device is genuine, but an FCC disclaimer and other details certainly make it look that way. If so, it’s an interesting glimpse at how Apple builds prototypes, and provides a rare look behind the company’s iron curtain-like secrecy.