Apple’s “iPhone ad slip up” reveals “mystery app” - Macenstein

Apple’s “iPhone ad slip up” reveals “mystery app”

Posted by Dr. Macenstein

[UPDATE: Apple has apparently re-edited iPhone commercials, and removed the “mysterious 12th icon”]

In looking through Apple’s newly posted iPhone ads on their site, I noticed something interesting.

In every shot we have ever seen of the iPhone’s main menu thus far, there are 3 rows of icons for applications (2 rows of 4 icons, and the 3rd row has 3 icons) for a total of 11 icons. (See below).

However, there is an odd shot in the newly released “How- To” iPhone ad, where the screen goes from the traditional 11 icon view, to a new 12 icon view. (See below).

Above: Scroll to 00:00:02.76, and you will see an interesting jump cut from 11 icons, to 12, and then back to 11 again.

The idea that the iPhone will add functionality and apps via software updates is nothing new; Apple has mentioned as much. However, you can clearly see that one moment the last row has three icons; “calculator”, “notes”,”settings”…

And the next it has four “clock”, “calculator”, “notes”,”settings”.

Apparently some mystery app has pushed the icons down 1 slot, but we cannot see what it is.

This brings us to 2 questions. First, what is the mystery app that has bumped all these apps down one spot? And second, why didn’t the editors of this commercial catch this lack of continuity between shots?

Since this is the most highly anticipated electronics launch in recent history, surely Apple must have known geeks like us with too much free time would scroll through the video frame by frame and catch something like this.

142 Responses to “Apple’s “iPhone ad slip up” reveals “mystery app””
  1. Mamba says:

    There is nothing more interesting than Apple rumors and the way they spreading hidden information requires increasing detective skills of you guys. Thanks for the post and keep your eyes peeled!

    My guess for the 12th icon: Remote Control for the Apple TV or Condiment Dispenser

  2. Matt says:

    Put simply its Ichat. Leopard will be able to link up Iphone profiles and desktop based Ichat users. It as been in the pipeline over 2 years and was one of the original reason for the iphone being redesigned to use a version of OS X back in 2004.

  3. Jonahan says:

    Hey on the whole “How did it know where he was?” deal it has address book … it imported his address … GPS would be cool but I doubt it.

  4. Nikolai says:

    This phone can do it all. Maybe it’s a toothbrush!

  5. Dr. A. N. Feldzamen says:

    In view of its several and severe disadvantages (exceptionally high price, limitation to Cingular-AT&T, lack of voice dialing, relatively small memory for music & video), there seems to be a need for a KILLER APP for the iPhone truly to succeed.

    I’d bet the Killer App will be DICTATION SOFTWARE, since a modified system is already present, and of course, a microphone. Such software, that would permit a user to dictate an Email, or dictate text into a rudimentary word processor, like TEXTEDIT, that could later go out to a computer or printer, would give the iPhone the boost it needs to become an unqualified success.

  6. Craig says:

    Old timers like myself recall that back in the days of CRT displays, if you were filming a screen, you had to load a special app on the computer that would allow the screen refresh rate to be placed in sync with the camera frame rate. Just wondering if the missing icon is at all related to filming the screen….or perhaps it was the scripting app that precans an interactive demo and lets all that nice GUI run full tilt – when we all know that getting that news page or Google maps from the web is gonna take more seconds than was shown in the ads 🙂 Anyway, that’s my best SWAG at the “mystery app”.

  7. Max says:

    Hm. The mystery deepens. If you look at the first ad, and go frame-by-frame over the close-up shot near the beginning where the finger clicks on the iPod button, you will see that as the app icons fly out, the “Notes” icon flies down and to the right. On the second ad, it flies to the left, because it was in position 2 of four (the 11 icons config). So unless they specifically tweaked this shot, the Notes icon was in position 3 of 4, implying a real 12-icon config.

    Hope this helps 😉

  8. I’m hoping for a GPS receiver, with automatic geotagging of photos taken with the camera and integration with the maps, address book, etc.

    But the reality is that the maps app could just ask the *tower* for *its* coordinates and use that. Close enough to find calamari, but not close enough to sync the Google Maps sidewalk view with reality.

  9. Adam says:

    Im going to laugh if the editor just did it to look aesthetically pleasing and there is no mystery app.

  10. andre rice says:

    who eats Calimari at 9:42 in the morning? I know for a fact that PAcific Catch isn’t open then.

  11. Anonymous says:

    “Since this is the most highly anticipated electronics launch in recent history, surely Apple must have known geeks like us with too much free time would scroll through the video frame by frame and catch something like this.”

    EXACTLEY! Jobs keeping us wanting more again.

  12. Bill says:

    How could you possibly care? – A “mystery” widget/app from a bad edit on an ad… Let’s speculate on the new Settings tab. Overpriced hunk o junk. yay!

  13. srini says:

    it’s probably a link to so you can instantly upload hottiepix

  14. I Konccur says:

    I agreed with Adam. It looks like it was a purely aesthetic decision.

  15. whocares? says:

    All phones sold in California are required to have a GPS for E911 purposes. Many of them don’t use them for anything else but they are required to be there.

    I ran into a problem with this a couple of years ago when I attempted to reactivate an old phone of mine and they wouldn’t let me because it didn’t have a GPS in it.

  16. anonymous says:

    This is a sad excuse for a “scoop”. There are approximately a billion reasons for the continuity mistake, and one of them could be a new app. And really, don’t we expect some interesting new apps like built-in youtube videos or games?

    “And second, why didn’t the editors of this commercial catch this lack of continuity between shots?”

    I know this is hard to believe, but editors don’t care about most “continuity mistakes.” If the “mistake” doesn’t matter and most people don’t notice, we let it slide.

  17. Mijncent says:

    Aren’t these icons simply Widgets one can add to the dashboard jus like on any normal Mac using OSX?

  18. Stamford says:

    I agree with Max, it is the Magic App, coming from the book depository, and impacting from the back and to the left. The second Mystery App came from the grassy nole, front and to the right. This explains everything, Castro killed the iphone before it is even released.

  19. Jack says:

    1) push the nr. 12 button and the i-phone changes into a TV remote
    2) idem and it changes into a satellite phone
    3) idem and you can order direct for a pizza
    4) idem and you have a digital photo frame with slide show

    Oh what the hack, it’s all wishful dreaming.
    Don’t expect the guys from Apple can do those things, do you ?

    Nokia N95 rulez the world !

  20. lksadjf says:

    Wow, you guys are incredibly pathetic. I am completely convinced if Steve Jobs covered his dick in shit, you would eat it.

  21. Way Cool Jr. says:


    Well, I can’t speak for EVERYONE here, but for me, it would totally depend on what he had eaten recently.

  22. FP says:

    It’s iChat. Probably A/V. This isn’t brain surgery. I have an AIM client on my RAZR now. Makes perfect sense.

  23. iJoost says:

    The empty space is used to shift the icons around. Which allows you to put them in the exact order you prefer. 😉

  24. can i just say that as an editor, you often don’t have a selection of shots that you would love. I’m sure the editor knew this while cutting the spot and had to use what he was given. Show a little slack to the guys cutting… we can only edit what we are given… sloppy producing is the problem in this spot.

  25. Probably something gay like a quicktime app.

  26. MarcelV says:

    More mystery….. In the ‘Calamari’ ad, look at the ‘Maps’ application icons. On the left botton corner, the button displays a car for directions. Next scene, with the phone number and the URL, there are two items on the bottom. The first one says ‘Directions to here’, teh second says ‘Directions from home’. GPS or no GPS, that’s the question. My vote…it has GPS.

  27. MarcelV says:

    sorry for the spelling… Calimari. And for the left bottom, should be right bottom. But it’s there!

  28. Bill says:

    I would have to go with either Powder’s MS iOffice (slow loading then crashes) guess or whoever mentioned YouTube mobile first. I can assure you, YouTube will be on the iPhone soon if not at launch.

  29. lolick says:

    that would be the iGasm button.

  30. JoJo says:

    Definately not GPS, Apple is so seamless that they would almost certainly build it into Google Maps, so I doubt it will be this (although I’m not saying that it won’t be there). There is a very good possiblility that it could be a direct link into YouTube, though again this will probably be merged with the video section (although im not too sure about this one). And the fact that it is absolutlely nothing is also another possibility. Whether it was put there to make it look pretty or to build up the hype, I would not be at all surprised. Either way, we’ll just have to wait. Maybe we’ll get a demo on Monday, or if not then we may have to wait until the release.

  31. DavidW says:

    it is a picture of a barefooted Paul McCartney crossing Abby Road

  32. Oliver Dwight says:

    turns the iPhone into an air travel neck pillow

  33. xenocog says:

    Hmmm… If Powder’s right, then iOffice tried to load again. There’s another shot, at 17 seconds, where one can catch a glimpse of the settings button flying off-screen from the 12th position. Dya think the call might be from the folks at Nisus or NeoOffice?

  34. xenocog says:

    Oops. Never mind; after watching the “There’s Never Been” ad it looks as if the “Settings” icon was probably at the 11th position. Sorry.

  35. Chris says:

    Could it possibly be an icon to tell you that you have voice mail.

  36. gps_rules says:

    Man is there a lot of mis-information out there about E911 and GPS in phones….
    The E911 mandate has accuracy requirements for locating devices that make 911 calls. The requirements are different if network based or device based (e.g. gps) technology is used. For device based location tech the position must be withing 50m 67% of the time and network (e.g. cell tower triangulation) 100m 67% of the time (my numbers may be off but not by much).
    The operators had the choice of which technology to use. For the most part CDMA guys went GPS and GSM guys went network based triangulation (for cost reasons). The GSM guys realized that the network based stuff was not very good and most I believe have decided to use GPS in the next generation phones (WCDMA).
    This of course is US specific. Don’t know what the European/Asian operators have decided to do.

  37. From Europe says:

    As you can see below, mobile devices can, and do, know where they are, its just a matter of beeing smart enough to use the available technologies properly as is usually done by Apple.

    “The location technology most familiar to people from consumer devices and media reports about smart bombs is GPS. Until recently, however, mobile wireless devices did not use GPS for determining location, due to some significant power and functionality drawbacks. GPS requires 3 to 4 satellites to be visible, and only provides location information to an accuracy of 5 to 15 meters. This is insufficient for indoor use, and precise emergency location. In response to the E911 Act, the Assisted GPS, or A-GPS technology has been developed. A-GPS utilizes a server at a known geographical location in the network, reducing the time, complexity and power required for location determination. GPS and A-GPS require hardware modifications to the wireless device, and A-GPS additionally requires network support.

    Other technologies that do not depend on GPS have been or are being used to provide location information. Most of these depend on triangulation between the wireless device and three or more base stations. For example, the Enhanced Observed Time Difference (E-OTD) method uses difference in the time of arrival of burst traffic from different base stations at the wireless device. The Time Difference of Arrival (TDOA) uses differences in the exact time of arrival of the wireless device’s signal at separate base stations. E-OTD requires changes in both the mobile device and the network, while TDOA only requires changes in the network. E-OTD has been used in Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) cellular networks, while TDOA has been used primarily in Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) networks.


  38. Hoss says:

    JoJo is right on one point. If GPS capability were built into the iPhone, it wouldn’t make sense for it to function or occupy space as a standalone link/application/icon.

    The recent YouTube (Google)/AppleTV capability means YouTube over iPhone is a foregone conclusion, but YouTube means too much to Google for it to be part of iTunes, or a third, or fourth-tier link within the iPhone (i.e., iPod>Videos>YouTube).

    Both Apple and Google are keenly aware of the potential that the specific portion of YouTube videos originating from music and TV studios has for iTunes Store sales.

    I think Google just bought itself another menu icon on the iPhone, next to Maps.

  39. anonymous says:

    In another Apple coup de grace, what did Apple appropriate from CES 2007 offerings for the 12th application icon? Think about it.

  40. Jamie Curmi says:

    I think the missing icon is white/yellow pages. That’s exactly what you need on a mobile phone, and we have a widget for it on OS X Tiger.

  41. j-don says:

    I’ve heard speculation at the office that Apple has been planning on a “Napster Free” killer. With, you can listen to their available catalogue 24/7 for free. So if Apple was smart enough, maybe they would have implemented a feature like this into the iPhone, because I mean hey, you only need 64 kbps for CD quality, and Apple already uses Akamai for content management.

    It would be cool to be able to stream music from iTunes, given the fact that the iPhone will have a limited storage capacity. Then again, if this was true, they would probably have some bundle worked out with Cingular to offer benefits with a data plan.

    But then again, it’s all speculation. Who knows what they’re keeping secret, it’s not like the iPhone is a “gba/ds/psp/zune” killer, is it?

    Think about it.

  42. kelly says:

    the clock app’s icon reads 3:52:00 in both shots, and the “clock” text is slightly out of line with the rest of the row. cut and paste.

  43. Kris says:

    The closeup shot and the step back view are not from a continuous action for sure. When the finger pushes the iPod icon, the Notes icon starts to move to the right off the screen but in the next frame (stepped back view) the Notes icon is moving off the left of the screen.

    Moving to the right is correct for its location in the bottom line in the prior closeup shot since it is center right in the bottom row. Moving to the left would make sense if it were center left as it is in the step back view.

    So very definitely these actions were at different times with different configurations on the screen. That suggests it is not an artistic decision to fill space. Also there is another closeup with the empty space shown when the finger presses Mail, so that can’t be the reason for the change in icon arrangement.

  44. Carlo says:

    maybe they just didn’t want to show a really, really close shot of the last row with only three icons. they wanted to fill the space . . . for aesthetic reasons.

  45. Shiraz says:

    Or they left it unedited so we get all excited about it 😛

  46. Rowan says:

    It could be made to look real without it being footage. Check out the demonstrations of Final Cut Pro on the apple site. They do exactly this, applying video footage to a screen in the dashboard of a 4WD car whilst the camera is moving in the car. There is a specific function for this.

  47. TiniK says:

    it’s iLife folks !

    Seen here first !

    Here is the silver bullet.

    but sshhh !!!

  48. bigbluebottle says:

    Wow, almost one hundred entries, and I am inclined to say, I THINK we might be reading into this far too much. A) Artistic License, Probably. B) Something running that just adds an active icon while it’s up, LIKELY. C) Mystery App? Come on. 🙂

  49. j-don says:

    As I’ve said before, it’s speculation. Take note tech connoisseurs.

  50. shawnyQ says:

    I just wanted to be the 100th.

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