Ann Arbor Area Business Monthly
Small Business and the Internet
iPhone 10 Years After
By Mike Gould
I want to tell you something you've known all along
Don't leave me hanging on the telephone.
Written by Jack Lee - Blondie, 1978
We no longer hang on telephones, we grip them for dear life as we swing from tree to tree in this jungle we call life in the 21st century. Drop your phone, and you end up on the forest floor, bereft and isolated, unable to function in any meaningful way. We’re a mess of media-addicted monkeys, networked to the nines as long as we have our little oblong buddies within easy reach. The 2001 Space Odyssey trope is alive and well; we’ve just miniaturized our monolith.
This is all a pretty radical evolution from the way things were a decade ago. We used to go about our businesses with a lumpy, dopy, dumb phone in our pockets, happily able to do wireless telephony at all (which was quite a novelty at the time for us geezers). Then the iPhone happened and everything changed. The iPhone is, of course, not the be-all and end-all of smartphones – it is not even the most popular (that would be the Android), but 10 years after its introduction is a convenient time for us pundit-critters to reflect back upon it all.
My experiences with early iPhonage are detailed in previous articles, URLs below. TLDR (geekspeak: Too Long, Didn’t Read, the 21century version of “long story short”): in my first article in 2007 I said they were too dang expensive and I didn’t think I would be getting one any time soon. Second article, May 2008, I wrote: “I'm beginning to think I may actually get one of these puppies…”.
By my third article in September 2008, I had completely caved and I showed up in a long line to buy the second generation iPhone 3G on its release day. By July of 2009 I had become a rabid, slobbering iPhone user, just like everybody else in the country, and wrote about that. Now, 10 years later, I’ve maybe stopped the slobbering, but I’m still a user and a fan.
So What’s Different?
Dang, what isn’t? It’s hard to imagine any aspect of our lives that hasn’t been touched by smart phones. Some would say the phones have gotten smarter and we have gotten dumber – I know I don’t remember phone numbers any more. Why commit my wife’s number to memory when it’s always a tap away on my shiny iPhone 6s Plus?
Anyway, here are some of the ways that the iPhone has changed my life:
As a commercial photographer, it is great to be able to whip out a viewing surface that has my previous photos embedded in it, instantly showing someone in a spontaneous circumstance what my work looks like. In a planned meeting with a client, I use my new iPad Pro with its wonderful 12” screen for this. But the iPad is too big to haul around casually, so the iPhone is what gets used the most in chance encounters. The plus-sized 6s is a real pocket-filler, but it has the biggest screen available at the time of purchase, and I have been very happy with it.
There is an old photographer saying about what is the best camera: the one you have with you. My main shooting irons are Canon SLRs – they are what I reach for when serious shots are needed. But, like the iPad, they are too bulky (and expensive) for every-day hauling, so the iPhone ends up taking a lot of pix I use to promote my lasers, etc. And the improved cameras in each generation of iPhone are what mainly drive me to upgrade when new models come out. Note that I usually upgrade every other model, so I’m due for a new iPhone 8 when it comes out later this year. We’ll see.
And, of course, there is the selfie issue. I’m not that big a fan of this, and I don’t own a selfie stick, but I have taken a few. I usually find it easier to get a passer-by or waiter to take a shot, and it usually comes out better than that arms-length stuff. But tell that to your average young person: they live and die by the selfie - ‘nuf said.
Being an old Boy Scout, I have a long history with maps. In my youth, I drove the US from coast to coast, always with a big, un-refoldable paper monstrosity to guide me. No more: now Siri is my guide. Someday I will have a car with built-in GPS (and email, Twitter, and Pokemon Go, I’m sure), but until then, Siri is my friend. But, like most friends, she has her quirks: see my article about this, URL below.
Notice how you never give directions to people anymore? You give them the address and their smartphone takes them there. But I still like to print out local maps for finding clients. I’m old fashioned, as you’ve noticed.
Being thumb-challenged, I don’t send a lot of email with my iPhone. I sure read a lot of it there when I’m on the road and away from my desktop computer or iPad. Again, the large size of the larger iPhone makes it easier to read stuff with my aging eyes. The still-tiny typing surface vs my thumbs remains an issue.
One of my main gripes about the IOS system of both the iPhone and iPad is the lack of spam filtering in email. Other than that, I’m pretty happy with both devices. Happy Anniversary to the iPhone!
Previous columns about iPhones:
iPhoning Home July 2007
Smart Phones Get Smarter May 2008
iPhone: One Man's Story September 2008
iPhone 3G: One Year Later July 2009
Travels With Siri March 2016
Mike Gould can hear you now. He was a mouse wrangler for the U of M for 20 years, runs the MondoDyne Web Works/Macintosh Training/Photography mega-mall, is a laser artist, directs the Illuminatus Lasers, and welcomes comments addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org.