What is the “Batphone”?!

Sometimes referred to in various posts/articles here on Mac OS Rumors, a “Batphone” or “batphone stream” is a videoconference or one-way stream using custom WebObjects and Cocoa technology originally developed specifically for this purpose (allowing very simple, secure code and the best assurance of end-to-end privacy — even across Apple’s own networks if need be) by “Tron,” one of our oldest and most reliable sources as well as an early/frequent contributor to the site, in 1997.

The very first “batphone” streams allowed us to view hands-on usage of developmental system updates, Apple software and other “insider” material just as Apple was assimilating NeXT, the return of Steve Jobs and the rise of Project Rhapsody (NeXTStep/OpenStep) which would eventually become Mac OS X.

Seeing hands-on (vicariously, at least, back then) the incredible promise of early builds of Rhapsody Developer Release 1 & DR2, as well as many other things that would have been difficult or impossible for sources to show us in such detail under the circumstances without risking their own careers — something we have prided ourselves on never doing.

There’s a reason that our sources can show us so much, and why we have been able to build a uniquely high level of trust with them over the years….being the first Apple/Mac rumor site and having a unique relationship with our sources before the site even opened accounts for much of that, but far from all.

In later years, the “batphone” evolved from a one-way video stream that could not under any circumstances be accessed by unathorized users nor could its content be copied, recorded or preserved in any way unless the sender actively allowed it…..into a two-way communication medium which could even include basic VNC/Apple Remote Desktop functionality to allow us a level of direct hands-on access to the sender’s system if they so desired.

In short, the “batphone” technology allows us to guarantee our sources’ privacy and security on a technological level to back up the human commitments we’ve made from day one.

It’s something that has until now generally been kept quiet; but given its positively ancient nature and the fact that our sources have long since become accustomed to trusting us on many fronts such that we are never dependent on the “batphone” system but merely use it as an extra precaution….we figured that it would be worth talking about publicly and acknowledging at times when it is used since that can provide some clarity as to how we can see something, even potentially use it (remotely) hands-on, and yet not necessarily have screen shots unless the source actively allowed us to.

Since this functions as the fixed equivalent to a human-made promise to adhere to an embargo, we use a mix of the two strategies to ensure that our sources’ wishes and parameters for information release are always followed to the letter.