We know little or nothing about the internal systems Apple uses to test the iPhones it makes. Thanks to an iPhone 12 Pro filtered by developer Giulio Zompetti, we can have a slightly clearer view of this curious software which is internally called SwitchBoard.

An operating system without a user interface

The SwitchBoard is a non-UI version of iOS 14. As we can see in the image, the interface is limited to displaying the battery level at the top right and then offering several applications with which to test the different parts of the system.

The names, as well as the app icons, are fairly undescriptive, and while we recognize Console in the top right, we know little about Alto beyond the iCloud, Astro, or Ness icon.

We’ve seen prototypes with internal operating systems in the past, but the truth is that was a long time ago and it’s clear that the test operating system, as well as the operating system of production, have evolved. With today’s images, we have a renewed view of these curious systems.

It is clear that for each operating system that we see completed, Apple has developed hundreds. From internal test builds to betas we never got to test, the dedication, just on the software side, to releasing a finished product is impressive.

Picture | Thai Nguyen