Ken Kocienda’s ‘Up Spell’ seems to have began its life as an inner Apple software for testing Recreation Heart – 9to5Mac

In October 2020, Ken Kocienda, longtime Apple human interface designer and the inventor of the iPhone’s digital keyboard, launched his first standalone app. The sport “Up Spell” is extremely addictive but extremely easy. John Gruber described it finest on the time as a “fast-paced solo model of Scrabble.” Lately, YouTuber DankPods shared a take a look at quite a lot of outdated iPod Contact prototypes from the late 2000s and early 2010s. Within the video, DankPods appears to be like at a bunch of inner Apple apps, and one among them occurs to play like Kocienda’s recreation, nearly to a T.

Being such an vital member of Apple’s improvement workforce absolutely meant that Kocienda had some free reign to develop artistic methods to develop and check new merchandise. Certainly one of Apple’s inner apps on a PrePVT model of the fourth-generation iPod contact was a recreation known as “Onword.” The sport was clearly designed to check Apple’s new gaming service and APIs on the time as Recreation Heart would finally launch with the fourth-generation iPod contact.

Onword has an identical interface and has the very same gameplay as Kocienda’s Up Spell. I suspected that Kocienda needed to be behind this inner software. Quite unsurprisingly, in the event you seek for Onword on the iPhone Wiki, you’ll be able to truly discover a itemizing that particulars the sport as a software developed internally by Kocienda for testing Recreation Heart. The web page was final up to date in March of 2018, so it’s unusual that nobody else appears to have made the connection since Up Spell launched final 12 months.

So positive, it isn’t shocking in any respect that Apple was creating video games internally for testing functions. In actual fact, the identical PrePVT prototype within the DankPods video additionally consists of “TouchFighter,” which was a recreation made by Apple to point out off the iPhone’s accelerometer capabilities in video games. We all know Onword is respectable as a result of Scott Forstall actually demoed TouchFighter throughout the first take a look at the iPhone SDK in March of 2008. Different inner testing apps like Switchboard which might be well-known are additionally seen within the video.

Onword and ToughFighter amongst a number of different inner Apple apps (DankPods)

What is shocking is that Onword/Up Spell got here to be an impartial title launched by Kocienda. It’s extremely uncommon that inner improvement apps from Apple ever see the sunshine of day, not to mention get a full-fledged launch. The 2 apps even have nearly similar consumer interfaces. I personally would love to listen to the story behind how the inner software, a few decade later, made its method into the App Retailer.

Up Spell occurs to be one among my favourite iPhone video games, and admittedly, I adore it much more now, understanding that it was at one level an inner Apple app. Up Spell is obtainable for iPhone, iPad, and iPod contact on the App Store for just $1.99. I extremely suggest you test it out, not simply because it’s a enjoyable little recreation, however as a result of we now realize it’s a bizarre little a part of Apple historical past. 25 cents from each Up Spell buy additionally will get donated to the San Francisco-Marin Meals Financial institution, so that you’re additionally serving to weak individuals if you purchase the sport.

I additionally suggest trying out the rest of DankPods videos. There are some actually enjoyable ones that check out outdated iPods, prototypes, bizarre equipment, ill-fated iPod rivals, and even iPod mods.

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