Those iPhone XS and Apple Watch photos? Here's how 9to5Mac found them

Analysis: Logical naming of images and directories made for a clever discovery.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
2 min read

Wednesday at 10 a.m. PT, the world is not only expecting Apple to reveal three new iPhones, but specifically the iPhone XS*. 

Why so sure? Because 9to5Mac's noted Apple leaker Guilherme Rambo was the one to bring us the picture you see above -- a picture that looks like it could have been pulled directly from Apple's marketing materials. 

And because today, Rambo has revealed that he found the pictures at Apple's own website. Whoops!

In his own words, here's the clever trick he used:

I just took the technique for a spin myself, and it might not have been that difficult a heist to pull off. Observe:

Here's Apple's Special Events website, where the company offers recaps of previous keynotes.

Screenshot by Sean Hollister/CNET

And here's the page for Apple's September 2017 event, where it announced the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and Watch Series 3:

Screenshot by Sean Hollister/CNET

Want to find out where Apple stores those product images? A tool like Chrome's Inspect Element does the trick. And if you compare a few such images, you quickly see Apple's URL format has been pretty consistent, making it ripe for URL hacks. Basically: month-year/productname/image.jpg, more or less. Rambo just followed the trail, started substituting "september-2018" for "september-2017" and "iphonexs" for "iphonex", and the rest is history.

We thought that Apple wouldn't be making this mistake again, but it appears that something similar did just happen again: The latest leak this morning seems to confirm the iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max names, thanks to a now-inaccessible XML file on Apple's website spotted by Allthings.how.

With Apple's announcements just minutes away, we'll soon find out if they'll opt to not use any of the now-leaked images, or otherwise change up their presentation of the products.

Originally published Sept. 11, 2018 at 4:32 p.m. PT. Updated with new info on the Allthings.how story.