What a difference a day makes…
Today marks the 10 year anniversary of the release of iPhone. The one that transformed the mobile industry overnight. In preparing to write something about it I thought I would dial back the clock and read through ArsTechnica’s excellent (20,000 word) review. The internet in your pocket, an onscreen keyboard, YouTube on demand, no Flash were just some of the highlights. But two things struck me most about it — multitouch and text messages.
Firstly, for a ‘revolutionary multitouch’ device. It didn’t, and still doesn’t really use multitouch.
“…Apple considers to be the phone’s main functionalities: phone, mail, Safari (web browsing), and iPod.”
Three of these don’t use multitouch at all. For Safari, Apple designed a ‘double tap’ to zoom feature to circumvent the multitouch clumsiness. Have a think about the top 5 apps you use on your smartphone and the top 5 games you’ve played. It’s surprising how few (if any) use the multitouch function.
“SMS support is nothing short of amazing. Unlike pretty much every other phone on earth, the SMS interface on the iPhone is set up conversation-style, complete with colored chat bubbles”
This bit of the review really took me surprise. I don’t remember what messages were like on my old Nokias. I Googled the hell out of it too and really couldn’t find anything much better than the image here. Not only can I not remember, I also can’t imagine what it would be like without the “conversation style”. It wasn’t the chip, the screen, multitouch, OpenGL or any fancy coding that made this happen. Just simple, well thought out, content driven UI. So seamless and natural that none of us can understand why you would do it any other way.
That, for me, is what innovation is. Design something simple, that hasn’t been done before, and make people wonder why it wasn’t like this in the first place.
Happy Birthday iPhone. Thanks Apple.