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Posts tagged with "iPhone"

iPhone 1.0: The 10th Anniversary MacStories Review

Author’s Note: When the iPhone was introduced in January 2007 at Macworld Expo, it was billed as a 3-in-1 device by Steve Jobs – a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and a breakthrough Internet communications device. The first two points were met with loud applause. Jobs was promising a better iPod and mobile phone – two things everyone understood and could get behind.

The third selling point - a breakthrough Internet communications device – was met with confused reactions. What did he mean? The answer was more broad and profound than the obvious candidates like email, SMS, or web browsing. The iPhone was a full-blown Internet-connected computer that you could put in your pocket and take with you wherever you went.

I don’t know of any product that’s had a bigger impact on so many people’s lives. Whether at work or play, the iPhone created opportunities big and small that were not possible before its launch. With a groundbreaking touch interface and intuitive design, the iPhone democratized technology and empowered people on a far greater scale than the desktop PC has managed by connecting people across the globe in a new and powerful way.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the iPhone launched. I wasn’t there to review the iPhone when it debuted, and neither was anyone else at MacStories. Ten years ago, the founding of MacStories was still almost two years away, and I was in Adelaide, Australia visiting family.

I vividly remember staying up late in Australia to read the early reviews of the iPhone on the nearly useless WAP browser of my work-issued BlackBerry. I didn’t write about the iPhone then, so to mark the occasion of the 10th anniversary of its launch, I brushed off those old memories and wrote what I would have written in 2007.

Let’s go back in time.


The long wait is finally over. Just over six months ago, Steve Jobs took the stage at Macworld Expo to announce three products:

  • a widescreen iPod with touch controls;
  • a revolutionary mobile phone, and;
  • a breakthrough Internet communications device.

What? Three new products in one keynote? No, not three devices – one. On January 9, 2007, after years of rumors and speculation, Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPhone.

Jobs took the iPhone through its paces at Macworld, thrilling the crowd with feature after feature. It seemed impossible. How could OS X fit into a phone? Was Safari on the iPhone as full-featured as on OS X? Macworld raised as many questions as it answered.

It didn’t help that the iPhone wouldn’t launch until June. There were no more demos, no hands-on time for the press, just the iPhone encased in a transparent tube on the show floor for visitors to gawk at.

In the past few months, some of the press took to calling the iPhone the ‘Jesus Phone’ for its promise of salvation from WAP browsers and the broken UIs of self-proclaimed smartphones. With the launch of the iPhone today at 6:00 pm Eastern, just one day before the end of the promised June delivery deadline, we can finally judge whether the iPhone is five years ahead of any other mobile phone as Jobs proclaimed in January.

Of course, it’s impossible to judge where the smartphone market will be in five years. However, measured against the hype at Macworld, the answer seems to be yes, the iPhone does deliver, though not without some caveats and many risks that could limit its adoption by consumers. For early adopters willing to pay the price and live with some rough edges, though, the iPhone is far ahead of every other available option.

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The Wall Street Journal’s Mini-Documentary on the Creation of the iPhone

The Wall Street Journal released a short documentary called Behind the Glass to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone’s release on June 29, 2007. The almost ten-minute long documentary cuts between interviews with Greg Christie, former Vice President of Human Interface, Scott Forstall, former Vice President for the iPhone Operating System, and Tony Fadell, former Senior Vice President of the iPod division. The three describe the struggle over whether to base the iPhone’s hardware on a multi-touch interface versus the iPod and the ensuing 2.5-year effort to create the first iPhone.

The interviews are short but recount several anecdotes, including the attempts to find a way to adapt the iPod’s interface to work as a phone and the predictive software used to make the touch keyboard accurate. Even ten years later, the retelling of the stories behind the iPhone’s birth is captivating.

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John Markoff Interviews Original iPhone Engineering Team Members and Scott Forstall

Last night, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California hosted a two-two hour interview program. The event was split into two parts. The first half is an interview moderated by John Markoff who spoke with former iPhone team members Hugo Fiennes, Nitin Ganatra, and Scott Herz about the development of the original iPhone. The three engineers recount what it was like to be recruited to the secret project and detail the team’s efforts to bring the phone to market.

The second half of the program, which begins at about 1:07:00 in the video below, is a one-on-one interview by Markoff of Scott Forstall who led software development for the iPhone. The interview with Scott Forstall is his first public comment about the iPhone and Apple since he left the company in 2012 and covers a broad range of topics from early iPhone prototypes to demonstrating the iPhone to Cingular, the first carrier to offer the phone.

Both interview segments are full of entertaining anecdotes about the iPhone’s development and well worth watching by anyone interested in what it took to create the iPhone. Forstall is particularly engaging as a storyteller displaying the same enthusiasm and excitement that he used to show onstage at Apple keynotes.


A Frontline Perspective on the Birth of the iPhone

The Verge has a lengthy excerpt from Brian Merchant’s upcoming book, ‘The One Device: the Secret History of the iPhone.’ Merchant’s book chronicles the development of the iPhone from the recruitment of engineers, designers, and others at Apple, through the battles over its hardware and software implementation. What’s unique about the excerpt of ‘The One Device’ is that it doesn’t try to fit the story of the iPhone’s development into a neat and tidy straight-line narrative. Instead, the excerpt embraces the messy, twisted path the product took from inception to launch.

The first battle was over hardware and whether the iPhone would be a multitouch device or an adaptation of existing iPod hardware. According to Merchant, an iPod-based Apple phone made the first calls:

The first calls from an Apple phone were not, it turns out, made on the sleek touchscreen interface of the future but on a steampunk rotary dial. “We came very close,” Ording says. “It was, like, we could have finished it and made a product out of it… But then I guess Steve must have woken up one day like, ‘This is not as exciting as the touch stuff.’ ”

Once it was decided that the iPhone would be a multitouch device, the battleground shifted to whether the operating system would be based on OS X or the iPod’s OS:

“At this point we didn’t care about the phone at all,” Williamson says. “The phone’s largely irrelevant. It’s basically a modem. But it was ‘What is the operating system going to be like, what is the interaction paradigm going to be like?’ ” In that comment, you can read the roots of the philosophical clash: The software engineers saw P2 not as a chance to build a phone, but as an opportunity to use a phone-shaped device as a Trojan horse for a much more complex kind of mobile computer.

Ultimately, the iPhone was released as a touchscreen device that sported a stripped-down version of OS X, and has proven to be the mobile computer that its creators envisioned. What I like most about the excerpt, and why I immediately purchased the book, is that it tells the story of the iPhone from the perspective of the people who worked on it, which provides details that only the engineers and designers working on the front lines can bring to life.

‘The One Device: the Secret History of the iPhone’ by Brian Merchant will be released on June 20th and is available for pre-order on the iBooks Store and Amazon.

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How One Rising Musician Works from an iPhone

David Pierce has a fascinating piece for WIRED on a hip-hop producer and artist, Steve Lacy, who makes music start to finish on his iPhone.

Lacy’s smartphone has been his personal studio since he first started making music. Even now, with all the equipment and access he could want, he still feels indelibly connected to something about making songs piece by piece on his phone. He’s also working this way to prove a point: that tools don’t really matter...If you want to make something, Lacy tells me, grab whatever you have and just make it.

Pierce describes a recording session he observed where Lacy used GarageBand, an iRig, and the iPhone's built-in microphone to create music.

He paged through the drum presets in GarageBand for a while before picking a messy-sounding kit. With two thumbs, he tapped out a simple beat, maybe 30 seconds long. Then he went back to the Rickenbacker. He played a riff he’d stumbled on while tuning, recording it on a separate GarageBand track over top of the drums. Without even playing it back, Lacy then reached down and deleted it. It took three taps: stop, delete, back to the beginning. He played the riff again, subtly differently. Deleted it again. For the next half hour, that’s all Lacy did: play, tap-tap-tap, play again. He experimented wildly for a while, then settled on a loose structure and began subtly tweaking it. Eventually satisfied with that bit, he plugged in his Fender bass and starts improvising a bassline. A few hours later, he began laying vocals, a breathy, wordless melody he sang directly into the iPhone’s microphone. He didn’t know quite what he was making, but he was feeling it.

Lacy's recording method is clearly an atypical one in the music industry, but it serves as a great testament to the power of iOS and the iPhone.

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The Cases for (and Against) Apple Adopting USB-C on Future iPhones

Jason Snell, writing for Macworld on the possibility of Apple adopting USB-C on future iPhones:

But the Lightning paragraph–that’s the really puzzling one. At first parsing, it comes across as a flat-out statement that Apple is going to ditch Lightning for the USB-C connector currently found on the MacBook and MacBook Pro. But a second read highlights some of the details–power cord and other peripheral devices?–that make you wonder if this might be a misreading of a decision to replace the USB-A-based cords and power adapters that come in the iPhone box with USB-C models. (I’m also a bit baffled by how the Lightning connector is “original,” unless it means it’s like a Netflix Original.)

Still, the Wall Street Journal would appear to be a more visible and reputable source than an analyst or blog with some sources in Apple’s supply chain. It’s generally considered to be one of the places where Apple has itself tactically leaked information in the past. So let’s take a moment and consider this rumor seriously. What would drive Apple to kill the Lightning connector, and why would it keep it around?

I've been going back and forth on this since yesterday's report on The Wall Street Journal. Like Jason, I see both positive aspects and downsides to replacing Lightning with USB-C on the iPhone, most of which I highlighted on Connected. Jason's article perfectly encapsulates my thoughts and questions.

USB-C represents the dream of a single, small, reversible connector that works with every device, and it's being adopted by the entire tech industry. USB-C isn't as small as Lightning but it's small enough. More importantly, it'd allow users to use one connector for everything; USB-A, while universal on desktop computers, never achieved ubiquity because it wasn't suited for mobile devices. USB-C is.

Conversely, Lightning is under Apple's control and Apple likes the idea of controlling their stack as much as possible (for many different reasons). A transition to USB-C would be costly for users in the short term, and it would be extremely perplexing the year after the iPhone 7 fully embraced Lightning.

Furthermore, unlike the transition from 30-pin to Lightning in 2012, Apple now has a richer, more lucrative ecosystem of accessories and devices based on Lightning, from AirPods and Apple Pencil to keyboards, mice, EarPods, game controllers, Siri remotes, and more. Moving away from Lightning means transitioning several product lines to a standard that Apple doesn't own. It means additional inconsistency across the board.

Like I said, I'm not sure where I stand on this yet. These are discussions that Apple likely has already explored and settled internally. I'm leaning towards USB-C everywhere, but I'm afraid of transition costs and setting a precedent for future standards adopted by other companies (what if mini-USB-C comes out in two years?).

In the meantime, I know this: I'm upgrading to USB-C cables and accessories as much as I can (I just bought this charger and cable; the Nintendo Switch was a good excuse to start early) and I would love to have a USB-C port on the next iPad Pro. If there's one place where Apple could start adopting peripherals typically used with PCs, that'd be the iPad.


Working from an iPhone

One of my goals in 2016 was to make working from my iPhone as efficient as possible. The desire to make this happen initially sprung from experiences raising a baby. My wife and I began foster parenting in July of 2015, and one of our foster children was AJ, a four-week-old baby boy. AJ ended up staying with us for about a year before returning to his birth mother, and in that year I learned that when raising a baby, there are frequently occasions when only one hand is available for computing. I would often have a hand tied up feeding AJ or carrying him around, and if I needed to get any work done during that time, my iPad Pro was no help. iPads are built for two-handed computing, while iPhones work great with one.

In addition to the motivation of being able to get work done with one hand, one of the things I've learned during the past couple years is that the best computer for work is the one you have with you. Despite the iPad Pro being more portable than most Macs, it still pales in portability compared to the iPhone. Because my iPad doesn't travel with me everywhere, I need to be able to do anything on my iPhone that I can on my iPad.

Between my two current jobs, much of my work can be done while on the go – whether I'm waiting for an oil change to be completed, standing in a seemingly endless DMV line, or any similar scenario. In these short intervals of life, there are moments work can be done – which is where my iPhone comes in, because it's with me wherever I go.

If and when a pressing work issue comes up, in many cases it can't just be ignored until I get back to my desk; my iPhone needs to be capable of handling the task. Even if the issue isn't time-sensitive, getting things done while I'm out makes the load lighter when I do get back to my desk.

I've grown extremely proficient in using my iPhone to get things done, and there are six key things I've identified that make that possible.

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