Happy birthday, iPhone. You’re 10 years old! What do you want to be when you grow up?
When Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone 10 years ago today, he touted Apple’s ability to combine three products -- “a revolutionary mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a breakthrough internet communications device with desktop-class email, web browsing, searching and maps -- into one small and lightweight handheld device.”
Those characteristics are still in today’s iPhones, but they’re so much more. Think over 2 million apps more, changing everything from the way we commute to the way we communicate with family and friends. At the same time, it has spawned hundreds of copycats and created new industries that couldn’t exist without phones. The iPhone is the most successful consumer device ever created.
So where does it go from here?
For Apple, the next 10 years will be about refining and simplifying its hugely popular phone. Whether the iPhone remains a rectangular slab of glass for the next decade is anyone’s guess (or, rather, up to chief designer Jony Ive). Importantly, what will become an even bigger focus will be everything else that surrounds the iPhone, like virtual reality and smart home.
“iPhone is an essential part of our customers’ lives, and today more than ever it is redefining the way we communicate, entertain, work and live,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement posted in Apple’s online newsroom. “iPhone set the standard for mobile computing in its first decade and we are just getting started. The best is yet to come.”
Here are some of CNET’s predictions:
iPhones used to celebrate just doing a few things well. Now, iOS and the iPhone are endlessly complex. Settings and hidden Easter eggs lurk everywhere. Managing cloud storage and photos, or navigating notifications and privacy will send you down rabbit holes.
Apple could aim for simplicity once again, paring down the experience to something more essential. It might find a way of pushing only a few things to your attention while keeping the rest in the background. It needs to reinvent its design, even the software, to be less cluttered.
And then there are all the phones. There used to be one iPhone... now there are models in different sizes, colors and processors. One rumor has Apple offering multiple display types next year.
The reality of the phone market is Apple will have to continue to meet different budgets and lifestyles. There’s no going back to that single original iPhone.
Connecting to everything
The iPhone’s already a hub for our fitness trackers, the Apple Watch and a growing world of smart home appliances and connected gadgets. The latest version of iOS included smart home shortcuts built into the Control Panel, like a home-based remote control. Imagine more of that spreading across more devices and services.
It’ll be able to talk to other gadgets more easily. Bluetooth 5 promises greater range and higher speeds to connect to other peripherals. In a home, that could make a huge difference. A wild card could be Wi-Gig, an extremely high-bandwidth, short-range variation of Wi-Fi that could be a path to how future iPhones could mirror instantly to larger screens or accessories.