For the majority of people involved in Purple [The iPhone project], including most of Ive’s ID team, only a dumbed-down version of the iPhone software was made available, to keep it from leaking. “We ended up making two user interfaces,” recalls Grignon.
“There was the UI that you got if you were knighted by Steve to see these glorious pixels cause they’ll blow your fucking eyes out. And then there was this other UI that we called Skankphone for testing. It was this awful UI that allowed you to make phone calls and text, but it was these hideous red buttons and boxes.
It’s likely ‘skank’ in the name is a variation of ‘skunkworks’ which was the team working on the device.
We’ve uncovered a number of screenshots from an eBay auction that closed early of a prototype iPhone that appeared to have been manufactured before the original announcement was made. The above image depicts an iPhone running the ‘skankphone’ version of the iOS springboard.
Fast Co Design wrote in its piece last year:
[The team had] to go to extremes to work around the system to the point where he had to sit his own engineers next to one another with a curtain in between–one with full iPhone access, the other with Skankphone access–to debug the code.
“Skank is the new black”
“Nine parts perspiration”
“Say hello to the Newton MessagePad 3000″