January 2017 marks the 10th anniversary of the iPhone being introduced by Apple, a device that has revolutionized personal technology, the ways in which people communicate, and how most people live their daily lives. Many former simple, everyday functions have been changed by the iPhone, and the smartphone revolution in general. And it’s fair to say that interpersonal communication hasn’t been the same since Steve Jobs unveiled the original iPhone back on January 9, 2007. Today, iPhones are ubiquitous and used to not only communicate with friends, family, and co-workers but also to entertain ourselves and direct our lives. Here are 10 ways in which the iPhone has changed the world.
10. The Touchscreen
Remember the teeny tiny keyboards found on old BlackBerry devices? Those seem silly and antiquated now, thanks in large part to the touchscreen introduced by the iPhone. Taking a cue out of the computer screens seen on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Apple created the touchscreen for use with its iPhones and the rest is history. Today, touchscreens are found on just about every smart phone and tablet, and companies that were slow to adapt to the touchscreen, such as BlackBerry, have pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur. Today, most people can’t even remember a time when they had to use a physical keyboard with a mobile device – just like they can’t remember using dial-up modems to connect to the internet. Touchscreens are an easier and more practical way to text, e-mail, and surf the Internet, that’s for sure.
One of the features that has come with iPhone touchscreens that is both beloved and hated by people is the “autocorrect” feature. While many people love that their iPhone automatically corrects their spelling, other people hate the feature as they find it changes the words they intended to use and ends up garbling their messages. Not a feature to be used when half asleep or intoxicated. And let’s be honest, Autocorrect Fails have simply become a part of modern day life. Who among us hasn’t had a good laugh at a friend or colleague when autocorrect fails? Take note though, Apple is actively working to improve, or correct (pun intended), its autocorrect feature. The company has patented software that would show users when messages have been corrected – potentially alerting them to garbled or unintended words.
8. Pinching to Zoom
Another now common practice that has come about largely because of the iPhone and its touchscreen is how people use their fingers to pinch the screen of their smart phone to zoom in and out on things they want to see. A major complaint with mobile phones before the iPhone arrived was that their screens were too small to really see web pages. People could surf the internet so much easier using a laptop computer. Today though, this is not nearly as big an issue as it was in the past, thanks to the ability to pinch the screen of their iPhone to zoom in and out of a particular website or photo. The New York Times has never been easier to read online. Pinching to zoom is so widespread now that many people try it on everything they look at – even if it is not on a smart phone touchscreen.
The iPhone is responsible for revolutionizing texting and making this the preferred way for most people to communicate. First, before the iPhone’s threaded message interface, texts were stored as individual files that came with a menu. People had to literally open each text message individually and go back and forth between them to look through a conversation. The iPhone changed all this by displaying texts on one screen, saving users valuable time. Second, because it is now so damn easy to text, phone calls made from mobile devices have all but dried up. A study in 2015 found that a quarter of smartphone owners had not made or received a phone call from their mobile device in the previous week. And only about half of iPhone users have activated their voicemail feature. Verbal communication is fast drying up, people.
6. One Device for Everything
Before the iPhone, people used to carry around multiple mobile devices. They would have a cell phone for making calls, an iPod for listening to musicm and a laptop for searching the internet and working on. Today, people have an smartphone and that’s it. Who needs anything else, right? One of the casualties of the iPhone’s success, ironically, has been the iPod. Nobody needs an iPod today as you can listen to the same music on your iPhone. The iPhone has proven to be Apple’s most successful product because it combines multiple functions in one device. With an iPhone on your hip, you can make calls, send e-mails, text, watch videos, take photos, surf the internet, listen to music, play games, get directions, and generally entertain yourself. It’s so all-inclusive that every other device has become unnecessary. Thanks, Apple.
5. Videos of Everything
Remember the camcorder? It’s pretty easy to forget handheld video cameras in the age of the iPhone. It was a big deal when cell phones first had cameras built into them. Then the iPhone offered a video recorder, and now the iPhone allows people to film HD videos that are so good in terms of quality, that some people use their iPhone to make an entire movie. Mostly though, people use the video function on their iPhone to record literally every moment of their life – from their baby’s first steps and graduation ceremonies to their best buddy wiping out on a skateboard. And when not sharing videos on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, people can be found huddled around an iPhone watching a video. The video (and photograph) function on iPhones has become so widely used that it has largely caused digital camera and camcorder companies to drastically change their business models.
4. Instant Information
Back in prehistoric times before the invention of the iPhone, people often had to wait and wonder about the answer to a question. They had to find the time to look something up, either online at their desktop computer, or in a (gasp!) reference book. Not anymore. Today, thanks to the iPhone, the answers to any and all questions are available in seconds via a Google search or reading a Wikipedia page. Wondering what other movies that actor has been in? Need to see a train schedule? Want to know how to say “This is delicious” in French? Just whip out your iPhone and Google it. Instant information and answers are always available. Arguments among friends can be settled in less than a minute, and everyone is an expert at trivia. We literally carry the world around in our pockets with an iPhone.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the selfie is here to stay and we can all thank the iPhone and its aforementioned camera features for this 21st century phenomenon. Selfies have become a social phenomenon in our modern time thanks to the front-facing cameras placed on iPhones and other smart devices Now people can spend all their time taking awkward, downward angled photos of themselves and posting them online. Or sending them to someone else.
To be honest, front-facing cameras appeared on cell phones as early as 2003, but it was not until they came out on the iPhone that the selfie craze really took off. Today, the selfie is a tool of everyone from celebrities to politicians and regular folks alike. Even people who claim to hate selfies have probably taken one or two of themselves. Go on, admit it!
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t use the Global Positioning System (GPS) on their iPhone? This is such a great and functional feature that there’s no longer any need to buy a separate GPS for your car, or to even buy a car that has GPS built into the dashboard. Pulling out your iPhone to find out where you’re going to has become standard procedure for most people. So much so, that the roadmap industry is all but extinct. Looking back, it seems almost laughable that people would have taken the time to look at a road map, or (God forbid) ask a stranger for directions. How silly! Many people use the GPS on their iPhone to get where they’re going when walking some place. That might be going a little too far, but you get our point.
The iPhone isn’t just an industry unto itself. It has helped spawn an entirely new industry too – apps! Thanks to the iPhone and Apple’s App Store, there really is an app for almost everything today. Ironically, the term “app” barely existed before the launch of the iPhone in 2007, even thought it is simply short for “application”. Today, the app sector is worth tens of billions of dollars – and growing every day. And it is from apps that majo tech companies such as Instagram and Uber have sprung up. Apple launched its App Store in 2008 to coincide with the launch of its iPhone 3G. In 2017, there are more than two million apps available, and people spend about $25 billion on iOS apps each year. App development reportedly employs more than 50 million people globally. All this is being driven by the iPhone, and there’s no telling where the app industry will go from here. Apps are just another way in which the iPhone has changed our world and defined how we live in the 21st Century. Apple co-founder and tech visionary Steve Jobs has certainly secured a legacy for himself.