Ten Years Later: iPhone

Today is the tenth anniversary of the introduction of the iPhone. I remember vividly how excited I was for this product. I had just jumped on the Apple train with my first iPod in 2005, and had followed what Apple rumor mill there was (it definitely wasn’t as extensive as it is today) and knew that there was likely some kind of phone product coming out soon. What Steve Jobs introduced that day went way beyond anything that I could imagine.

It’s hard to believe or really remember all the staples of modern smartphone interactions that were introduced that day. The many advances that were made, not only in technology, but also in UI and Hardware design. Watching the keynote again last night I was reminded of life before iPhone, and my wife was shocked at how many things didn’t exist prior to it. One that stuck out to my wife was Visual Voicemail. “Wait, that didn’t exist until iPhone?” That’s right. Before that you had to listen through 4 potentially meaningless voicemails just to get to the 5th which is from your mom. Barbaric, I know, but that’s how it was done.

There are many other moments where Steve explains why they made certain decisions. Why sync iPhone through iTunes and the same cable as an iPod? Well, because everyone already knows how to do that, it’s one less thing to learn. Pinch to zoom in your photos or webpages, why not, that makes perfect sense. A full HTML Web browser, responsive and powerful native applications, Slide to Unlock (because they wanted a motion that wouldn’t trigger by accident in your pocket). So much about the iPhone seemed impossible, and now just seem quaint in their ubiquity or even out-datedness.
It wasn’t without it’s shortcomings. This first iteration didn’t have 3rd-Party native applications, there was no App Store. All you had was web apps and native suite of apps that Apple included. But over the next 10 years, Apple would address all the original gripes and more. You can compare for yourself by watching the keynote and comparing that first iPhone to the marvel of modern technology that is iPhone 7.

I encourage you to watch the keynote. It’s a wonderful example of Steve Jobs in his finest and his favorite element: introducing an impossible product that he is genuinely excited about. It’s also a reminder of how far technology and Apple have moved in the last decade, and it makes a geek like me hopeful for all the cool stuff that will come out, not just from Apple, but from all of the technology sector, over the decade to come.