Whether you’re an Android devotee or Apple diehard, there’s no doubting that the iPhone changed the world. During the device’s first decade it has transformed how people communicate, created a new ecosystem for the app, and defined how the smartphone looks.
Project Purple: the real story of how the iPhone was born
As part of WIRED’s week-long celebration of the 10th anniversary of the first iPhone, and our partnership with Cult of Mac, here are some of the key innovations that led to the iPhone becoming an enduring tour de force.
2003: Apple industrial designer Duncan Kerr, and now veteran of the company, created a demo of ‘multi-touch technology’. The system allowed more than one point to be recognised on a touch screen and allowed for pinching, swiping and zooming on its surface. Jony Ive ended up showing the technology to Steve Jobs, who reportedly said: “This is the future.”
Late 2004: The P1 and P2 projects, which were the forerunners for the iPhone, were underway as secret projects within Apple. Managed by Tony Fadell, the P1 added phone functions to the wheel of an iPod. However, the P2 project was a lot more successful due to its use of the multi-touch system.
2008: Hot on the heels of the iPhone’s launch the previous year, the app store is launched on July 8. The store, which was based on the principle of iTunes’ success, had 500 native apps available at launch and was followed in the next years by the ‘There’s an app for that’ tagline. Early apps included the Koi Pond, Pandora Radio and a Flashlight app. Now, Apple says developers have earned $70 billion (£54bn) through the store.
2011: In October, the iPhone 4S was shown-off the day before Steve Jobs died. As well as being a seminal moment in the company’s history, the release of the phone saw the first artificial intelligence system launched. Siri, which was demonstrated on stage by Apple’s Scott Forstall, was launched with features that allowed users to ask it to share weather updates, check the calendar and exchange rates. “It’s not perfect,” Forstall said at the time. All these features provoked a new interest in voice assistants that eventually led to the current competition between Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana.
2012: At a September event, Apple introduced a taller iPhone with a 9:16 aspect ratio. But another hardware update was one of the biggest changes to the phone since its launch. The Lightning connector was introduced. This would later pave the way for Apple to drop the 3.5mm headphone jack in the iPhone 7.
2013: In December, Apple’s potential market jumped by 760 million people. Tim Cook’s company announced that from the following January, the iPhone 5s and 5c would be available on China Mobile, the biggest mobile network in the world. “China is an extremely important market for Apple,” Tim Cook said at the time.
You can check out more of the biggest iPhone innovations and milestones at Cult of Mac.