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Thursday, December 14, 2017 27° Partly cloudy

A Decade of the iPhone — Look what we’ve all become

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By Mark Isaiah David

iphone 10 years

Whether you love or hate the iPhone, its impact is undeniable — on an individual’s habits, purchasing trends of whole generations, and even the development of the tech industry as a whole.

We’ve written before about how the iPhone made several features ubiquitous: threaded texting, banishment of the tactile keyboard and stylus, proliferation of apps, ‘jailbreaking’ as a household thing, leveling-up the bling of your phone, multi-touch technology good enough for toddlers, even the trend of batteries lasting only a day.

But more than technological innovations, the iPhone also changed our behavior. For example:

Lengthy Bathroom Breaks

The things we used to do in the bathroom used to be quick – you come in, you do your business, and you go out. But now, we play endless games, watch YouTube videos, browse social media, maybe even catch up on our shows while we’re in the bathroom. We go out only when our battery’s empty or when we’re already late to where we’re going.

Overnight Lines

Lining up overnight to buy a gadget used to sound insane – now it’s just the norm whenever a new iPhone is about to be launched. Even without a substantial discount or the novelty of having a limited edition model, the manufactured trendiness of Apple is able to convince people that there’s value in being a Day-1 adopter.

New Economy

The iPhone contributed to the rise of a new economy: we now have services (ride-sharing, online shopping, and even food delivery, to name a few) nowhere near as prevalent as it was 10 years ago. Savvy entrepreneurs can even capitalize on the ubiquity of smartphones to forego the traditional expenses of building a business (such as conventional offices and stores) and do things much more cheaply.

Internet Anywhere

Connecting to the internet used to be a thing you prayed for while your dial-up makes its horrible screeching sound. Now, we have an always-on, always-connected handy device in our back pockets. With it comes several behavioral changes: we rarely get lost anymore (thank you, GPS!), settling bets and looking for information became instantaneous due to the power of Google search, unending notifications made driving more dangerous, and we don’t even need to bring our own music with us since Spotify has a library we barely scratch.

Selfie Culture

Undeniably, the iPhone was integral in making ‘selfie’ an actual dictionary term. Like it or hate it, selfie-taking is now an omnipresent behavior – a habit virtually unthinkable before smartphones became a thing. Corollary to this, of course, is the rise of photo-taking and video-taking habit. Now, everyone documents everything – even the blandest of activities/event get its own album on their Facebook feed.

Games Galore

Mobile phone gaming used to be clunky – I remember trying to play this simple RPG game on my Symbian-powered phone but it was just so painful and woefully awkward. Even Nokia’s bet for mobile gaming – the N-Gage – failed outlandishly.

Today, smartphone gaming rakes in billions and billions of dollars. And no longer are players limited to crappy simplistic games. Nowadays, even big studios create mobile versions of their strongest titles to get their share of that ever-increasing mountain of gaming gold. For small, independent players, this gaming revolution is also a godsend. Even a game made by just one guy can earn serious money – thanks to the App Store and the millions of potential players looking for the next Flappy Bird.

Eben Upton, creator and founder of Raspberry Pi, further argues that the iPhone “established beyond doubt that mobile phones needed graphics processing units (GPUs); within a year or two of its launch, mobile phone chips without them (even for low-end handsets) were effectively unsaleable.”

It’s hard to fully quantify the changes that the iPhone brought to our lives – it’s just so big, so fundamental, and so unexpected. And it’s not even done yet.

With the new iPhone X, we can expect more changes in the future. While wireless charging, augmented reality, and facial recognition technology have been around for a while now, the legion of Apple fans willing to pay exorbitant amounts to get the new device would ensure that these tech would be more pervasive than ever. And like before, these ‘new’ tech would birth curious technologies and behavior. In the future, having your phone connected to a WiFi network might automatically charge your device. Girls might need to wear less make-up so that their phones will recognize them when they wake up in the morning. We might spice up our Skype calls with fun augmented reality backgrounds. The future may be uncertain – but it’s a safe bet that the iPhone will continue to play a big role in our lives.

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