On 9 January 2007, Steve Jobs had announced that Apple was going to reinvent the phone while launching the very first iPhone. Eight years down the line, he must be smiling at his own foresight (he would!), from wherever he resides these days. Yes, Apple alone cannot take credit for the smartphone and app revolution (a competitor that Jobs wanted to declare Thermonuclear War on deserves part of the applause), but what cannot be denied is that the first iPhone set off a chain reaction when it came to handsets and gave us a lot of features that many of us take for granted these days. Whether they are good or not is a matter open to debate, but at the time of the launch, we would have laughed if you had suggested any of these would become a part of our lives eight years down the line. So ladies and gents, without further ado, here are eight things that we have got hooked to, courtesy of the device that was launched THAT day eight years ago:
1. Big displays
Oh yes, we appreciate the irony of the point, considering that Apple was one of the last to embrace the phablet culture. But at the time of its launch, the 3.5 inch display was seen as being massive by many. The Nokia E61i was supposed to have a huge display and that one was all of 2.8 inches. Yes, there were devices with bigger displays from the likes of iMate and Palm, but they had struck no chords.
2. The sensors
Tilt to change the display from portrait to landscape. Lock the screen when you hold the phone. Sounds routine today, does it not? It was a big deal at that time. Words like accelerometer would become part of our vocabulary from that day onwards.
Yes, other phones had touchscreens before, but never one that was so easy – and intuitive – to use.
4. Pinch to zoom, slide to unlock, swipe to scroll, etc.
In 2008, you fiddled on a touchscreen with a stylus, and often had to tap on icons for even basic navigation. The iPhone brought things like pinch to zoom, swipe to scroll and a whole other set of navigation touches that flowed from your fingers. No stylus necessary. Even for typing – Jobs would famously mock the plastic keyboards on phones as he typed out a message during the demo!
5. Multiple homescreens
Today, we count the number of homescreens in a device. The iPhone was the first notable phone to come out with the concept. All your apps were on your homescreen, just a scroll away!
6. App stores
Yes, there had been reservoirs of apps before the iTunes App Store (often on operators’ buggy Web pages) but rarely had one been so well organized and implemented as the one on the first iPhone. And while the App Store itself came late in the life of the iPhone (July 2008), its ease of use would spark off a revolution of sorts.
7. OS updates
Before the iPhone came along, not too many people worried about OS updates. Heck, you could not even update from Symbian Series 60 (2nd edition) to Series 60 (3rd edition) without buying a new phone. The most you could expect was a firmware update that more often than not was a bug quashing exercise. The iPhone put a whole new spin on the OS update process with devices getting updated to new versions of the OS for almost two to three years after their launch.
8. Desktop browsing on a handset
We had Web browsers on handsets before, but they were generally “optimized” for mobile displays – anyone remember the text-oriented WAP Web pages of those days? The iPhone yanked things to another level, serving pages designed for desktops on your handset. Jobs introduced it as an Internet Communication device at the launch, after all.
Just in case you feel like watching the whole presentation on THAT historical day, here it is.