On the 29th of June 2007, the iPhone launched and the first customers were able to get their hands on the revolutionary device. Yes, it really was revolutionary, in spite of what Apple’s competitors and many detractors would have had you believe.
The device shipped without countless features that we take for granted today. The App Store? nope. 5G? again nope (not even 3G for that matter). Nor did it have wireless charging, a front-facing camera, FaceTime, stereo speakers, dust and water-resistant design or countless other important features. But what it did have was a remarkable user interface that has stood the test of time.
The late Steve Jobs, Apple’s then CEO while not singularly responsible for the iPhone, played a pivotal role in the decision to use a multi-touch UI. Originally the technology was an experiment for a tablet product (that would later become the iPad). But Steve shelved the product, realising that they could scale the tech down to a display small enough for a phone. It might be the most business important decision of all time.
The unique user interface of the iPhone was a revolution. Its simplicity and ease of use enabled a class of products that were once the work of science fiction. No longer would a phone be restricted by buttons forever fixed in plastic. The display could bring up any bespoke user interface required for a given app.
Apple paired the extraordinary UI with a best-in-class touch screen. Not the terrible resistive touch screens that came before it. The iPhone had a touch screen that was so precise, accurate and responsive that you couldn’t help but feel delighted.
Of course, all of this is in technology terms, ancient history. There are kids that were born when the iPhone launched that are approaching the end of their time at high school. And we all know small children and even babies that can use the iPhone and its sibling the iPad with no instruction. They just instinctively and intuitively know how to use it. Much has changed in terms of the iPhone and its feature set. But one thing that hasn’t is the multi-touch technology that underpins the experience (save for improving the touch refresh rate).
For more insight into the phone that changed the industry, check out this excellent documentary by Joanna Stern over at the Wall Street Journal.