Update: We spoke with the New York Times, which corrected some of our original post. Specifically, Apple did not develop or modify any of the Times’ iPhone app code or insert images into the Times’ app, as its freelance designer had suggested. Apple did provide the Times with some feedback to its initial app design — which is more than most app developers would have gotten. But nothing technical.
Developers released some 500 programs for the debut of Apple’s iPhone App Store earlier this month. But not all apps were created equally: At least one premier iPhone developer — The New York Times — got a (small) helping hand from Apple itself.
This is explained in a nugget buried in a very cool blog post by Felix Sockwell — who helped design the user interface for the NYTimes app — illustrating how the app’s simple, attractive icons evolved.
“Once approved, the … art was sent to Apple where they integrated [them] into the app,” he writes.
We double-checked with Felix, and he confirmed what that meant: Apple employees took the images the NYT guys had created — see the icons on the image to the right — and inserted them into the NYT app. That’s not heavy-duty coding work, but we imagine that it’s more help than other app developers got.
This also makes perfect sense to us: Having apps from big-name partners like the Times (NYT) is key for any platform launch, so it’s understandable that Apple would pay extra attention to certain apps. But we imagine there are a lot of developers wishing they could even get a fraction of that kind of attention from Apple (AAPL).