With the release of Forcetouch we are seeing Apple solve the same problem twice on our beloved iPhones. In this series we will look at the evolution of the product and make a case for a complete product reboot.
When it first kicked off in 2007 Apple had a much simpler product vision of a phone you could browse the web with. Now the iPhone is a fully matured device and while it’s aging well, like most good products before it, it is starting to feel the strain of feature bloat. Some of those features are helpful and others comprise it's beauty and simplicity.
Here is a quick rundown of the controversial milestones.
2007 - The release of the first iPhone
Guess what? It wasn't the first "smart device" but it would be the first to successfully implement touch. A touch enabled phone to allow you to browse the web! It didn't invent apps, it didn't invent SMS, it didn't invent the mobile format but it’s core functionality was revolutionary. Even Steve Jobs didn't have the full vision of what would come, he claimed that apps were a passing fancy and that mobile web was the future.
2009 - Copy and Paste: compromising on a vision
There was an infamous copy and paste debacle. Apple hadn't included copy and paste presumably because it would complicate their simple and elegant UI. But competing products had copy and paste (see Windows CE PDAs). In 2009 Apple gave in and added copy and paste using a double tap gesture (they also released a "shake to undo" which is still widely underused). Apple was taking their web consumption device and stepping into productivity.
2008 - Embracing Apps
Jobs originally thought 3rd party apps would pollute the Apple ecosystem and refused to allow them. It wasn't until IPhone 2.0 came out that he started allowing users to buy apps from the app store. Now apps on the IPhone are a mutlimillion dollar industry but Jobs failed to see this at the time. He was opting for control over inclusion. Now 3rd parties were able to contribute to the featureset of the product.
2010 and 2013 - Memory & Battery Management the vision is dead
Apple tried to sell us the idea that the IPhone could manage memory and power better than the we could. A lot of people believed it. But with jailbreaking becoming more popular and 3rd party apps allowing you to mulitask and manage your open apps Apple finally conceded that this advanced feature needed to be a part of the product. We now have a task manager and easy access to advanced power controls (bluetooth, brightness) in the control center. Apple has evolved their product dramatically but somewhere along the way the IPhone stopped feeling like the phone Apple set out to make and more like a ploy to get people to upgrade.
2012 - Apple Maps A political blunder
In 2012 Apple flexed its muscle and replaced Google as the mapping system on it's phone in favor of it's homegrown software with data from TomTom. You probably remember this drama. Apple Maps had a lot of errors, incorrect directions bad satellite data and some large features were missing (namely transit directions and streetview). Google, most peoples preferred mapping technology was left with no presence on the IPhone for months. An apology was publish on the Apple website. This was Apple fighting a strategic battle with their competition at the expense of their own users.
2015 - Forcetouch / 3d Touch
This is the latest and I'll devote an entire blog post to Apples need to keep creating features in order to get us to keep upgrading.