Although Apple’s iPhone was not the first smartphone or first touch-screen phone ever produced — those honors both belong to the IBM Simon, released in 1994 — the iPhone popularized smartphones and quickly became a household name. Since its original release in 2007, Apple has revised the iPhone every year, improving its hardware and providing additional features through software updates.
Origin of the iPhone:
Just as Windows and Macintosh have battled for desktop computer supremacy for years, the iPhone’s history traces back to Apple’s competition with Microsoft. Steve Jobs came up with the idea for the iPhone after hearing about a planned tablet computer from a Microsoft employee. Annoyed at Microsoft’s design which used a stylus, Jobs set out to create his own tablet. During the design process, however, the form shrunk down, ultimately turning into a phone. Apple released the first iPhone in 2007, shelving the idea of a tablet until the iPad’s launch in 2010.
Introduction of Apps:
Before the iPhone popularized smartphones, the idea of a phone performing a wide range of tasks was so foreign that comedian Stephen Colbert teased the device on *The Colbert Report*, saying, “Apple, split these things back up or you can count me out as a customer — until you send me one for free.” But although the iPhone included several vital apps — Safari, Calendar, Calculator, Notes and so on — it couldn’t originally download and run new apps. Apple introduced this feature and the App Store in 2008 as part of the second version of iOS, the phone’s operating system. At the time, the App Store offered only 552 apps, but the concept caught on, and the store passed its millionth app in 2013.
Since launch, Apple has released at least one new model of iPhone every year. As the iPhone has progressed through the 3G, 3GS, 4, 4s, 5, 5c, 5s, 6 and 6 Plus models, the device’s processor has gotten faster, its storage space has expanded and its screen size has increased. Alongside hardware updates, Apple releases new versions of iOS, which are compatible with some, but not all, prior models. Major improvements introduced through system updates include copy and paste in iOS 3, multitasking and wallpapers in iOS 4, iCloud synchronization and Siri in iOS 5, a new visual design in iOS 6, the Control Center in iOS 7 and support for custom keyboards in iOS 8. In addition to major updates with new features, Apple releases several small patches per year that fix bugs and security holes.
Expanding the Screen:
Unlike Android phones, which come in a range of sizes, iPhones have had relatively stable screen sizes. Up through the iPhone 4s, every model had a 3.5-inch screen. With the iPhone 5, Apple elongated the, providing room for an extra row of app icons with a 4-inch display. This size remained stable until the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus launched in 2014, in what Apple called one of the “biggest advancements in iPhone history.” The iPhone 6 bumped up the screen to 4.7 inches, while the near-tablet sized iPhone 6 Plus boasts a 5.5-inch display.