The first generation iPhone went on sale eight years ago today – on June 29, 2007. The device’s popularity ushered in the mobile universe we live in today. This post is not an “Apple fanboy” rant, but rather an appreciation of all that has changed in the world of technology and communication in the iPhone’s wake. Like it or not, its impact has been tremendous. Here are a few ways the world has changed since 2007:
The Web and Responsive Design
The rise of smartphones (from both Apple and its imitators) presented web developers with a vexing problem: their standard desktop sites were unreadable and unusable on mobile. After a few years of innovation, failure, and debate, Evan Marcotte created responsive design. Responsive design uses CSS media queries to make websites change shape depending on the device and screen size they’re presented on. The web underwent an overhaul for handheld accessibility and immediacy; this was a watershed moment for web design and has forever altered the style and shape of the web (for more info, read my article about the basics of responsive design). One recent symbol of mobile’s impact on the web at large is the ubiquitous ‘hamburger’ menu icon – an icon that was once a mobile mainstay but which has risen to prominence on almost every platform.
While web designers were grappling with responsive design, app developers were learning to exploit mobile-centric behavior and functionality like swiping and geolocation.
Culture & Lifestyle
Your aunt has a dangerous addiction to Candy Crush. There’s an Angry Birds movie on the way, obviously. Last year, app developer Supercell was reportedly raking in an astounding $654,000 a day on its hit game Clash of Clans.
Mobile gaming applications have risen to be a major force in pop culture – but smartphones are used for much more than gaming.
Social media apps like Facebook and Foursquare have changed the way people communicate and socialize. Tinder caused a splash in online dating and created a cultural phenomenon out of ‘swiping left’ (Vogue calls it “the definitive gesture of permanent rejection in the digital age”). Another area of major cultural change is mobile’s impact on ecommerce and the way that people shop. Mobile commerce has experienced exponential growth; so much so that consumers now spend more time shopping on mobile devices than desktops.
The universe of Apple products – including iPhone and iPod – have made some musicians feel that they need to tailor their music to be immediate and digestible. Former Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher was recently interviewed on the podcast You Made It Weird, where he commented on the impact of Apple products on popular music. “Music is now designed for the iPod. Music is designed and written to come out of tiny speakers on iTunes. Music is designed to hit you by the time that [iTunes preview] wheel turns around, so you buy it. The ninety second thing… check it out, modern pop music, it’s all about the ninety seconds – forget three minutes.”