Being first on the Internet is serious business. (Or so a hundred million comments would have me believe.) So who posted the first iPhone 4S shots to the Web?
The question turned out to be harder to answer than I expected. While it was easy enough on some sites (Flickr, for example) it was damn near impossible on others (Facebook). Let's start with the easy stuff.
Flickr scans the EXIF data from uploads to track the kinds of cameras people are using. It leads to all sorts of interesting data analysis, but also made it easy for them to tell us which 4S photo was the first uploaded to their site. Turns out, they were all taken by Apple. People downloaded the 4S example photos Apple released and re-uploaded them to Flickr. Er. We don't care about those.
The first original upload to Flickr? It was this photo of a parking structure taken by some blogger named John Gruber who managed to get his hands on the iPhone 4S before it was released to the public. Good job, John Gruber! I hope you appreciate the traffic I am sending to your web log.
Instagram is iPhone-only. (That is, unless you're cheating.) It's ridiculously popular with iPhone users, and so naturally it was going to have some early 4S photos. I asked Instagram to track down the first photo posted from a 4S. They think they found it, and it turns out that it comes from none other than Apple marketing boss Phil Schiller, who posted this one some five weeks ago. And yeah, that iPhone 4S camera is a hell of a marketing tool, Phil.
Like Flickr, Picasa scans EXIF data and lets you sort by the camera type used to take a photo. It also lets you sort by date—although that's a bit flakey. Having said that, this was the first photo I could find using those parameters that was taken with an iPhone 4S. It's of an iPhone 4S box, surprising! It was taken October 14 by David Peacock.
Twitter and Facebook posed bigger challenges. I tried to get Facebook to track down the first public photo posted there, but no dice. (Facebook did thank me for thinking of it, which was nice. You are welcome, Facebook.) Twitter has a public API, and so that seemed like a snap. But because Twitter doesn't use a sequential numerical system to track its photos, you'd have to grab them all and then sort through millions of photos to find the first one with iPhone 4S EXIF data.
So lacking hard evidence from Facebook or Twitter, I'm just going to assume that I posted the first photos from a 4S to both. Check it out, an owl from the San Francisco Zoo eating a rodent.
That is, unless you can prove me wrong. Can you prove me wrong?
Post links to examples of photos from a 4S camera posted to photo sharing services prior to October 14 in the comments below, and we'll update this post with them.
You can keep up with Mat Honan, the author of this post, on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.