7 ways the iPhone changed the world in 10 years

The iPhone is 10 years old. We remember its most life-changing innovations – from the App Store to making touchscreens the norm…

11 Jan 2017


1. Brought the touchscreen to the masses

‘Apple didn’t invent the touchscreen. But Apple knew what to do with it,’ said Time Magazine when it named the iPhone the invention of 2007. There had been touchscreen phones before, but it took iPhone to make it the norm.BBC iPlayer

Its 3.5-inch multi-touch display transformed how we use our phones. It had a virtual keyboard for writing texts and entering numbers and introduced flipping and swiping. There would have been no tablet nor the smartphone without the iPhone. 

Apple sold 1 million iPhones in just 74 days.


2. Changed ‘how we do everything’ with the App Store

From Instagram to Spotify, it’s hard to imagine a world without apps on our phones.

When Apple introduced its App Store with the iPhone 3G in 2008 – making it easy to customise your phone to suit your life to a T – 10 million apps were downloaded within the first 3 days.

We now use apps to play games, do banking, listen to music, share photos, edit photos, book holidays, find love, check scores and, well, pretty much everything.

The App Store had a huge impact on everyday life, and Android and Windows soon followed suit. No wonder Apple boss Tim Cook says the App Store ‘fundamentally changed the world’.


3. Introduced voice control with Siri

The past year has been massive for voice-controlled tech with Amazon Echo and Alexa landing in many UK homes.

iPhone 7

But voice control as we recognise it today really started when Apple introduced Siri on the iPhone 4S in 2011. Apple described Siri as an ‘intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking.’ 

You could ask your iPhone:

  • Will I need an umbrella today?
  • Remind me to call mum
  • What’s the traffic like round here?

And Siri understood your question in the context of where you were and what you were doing. It seemed strange at the time. Not so much now.


4. Made our phones like computers

Today’s smartphones are like mini computers rather than phones. That started with the first iPhone which was more like a ‘genuine handheld, walk-around computer,’ according to Time. 

But things got much more meaty in 2013 when Apple made the iPhone 5S the first smartphone with a 64-bit processor – packing what it called ‘desktop-class architecture’.

At the time Apple said it promised ‘blazing fast performance in the palm of your hand’. But the upgrade had one eye on the future, for it was later generations of apps that would harness its full power.

Samsung soon followed making its next phone 64-bit. Now it’s a standard feature of flagship phones. Today’s iPhone 7 is powered by the super powerful A10 Fusion Chip – twice as fast as the iPhone 6.


5. Unlock your phone and pay for stuff with your fingertip

Remember when you had to type in a passcode to get into your phone? Apple made it much easier with Touch ID on the iPhone 5S in 2013. 

You were able to unlock your phone with the tap of your finger thanks to the clever biometric sensor built into the Home button.

From the iPhone 6 onwards, Touch ID worked with Apple Pay making it possible to pay for things securely from your debit or credit card from your iPhone.

Buy a coffee at Costa or a Tube ticket. Fill up with petrol at BP or buy smellies in Boots. To pay you simply hold your iPhone near the reader with your finger on Touch ID. 


6. Super-sharp screens for text, image and video

Back in the late noughties phones had blurry low-res screens. But smartphone screens got a serious upgrade with iPhone 4 in 2010. It packed 4 times as many pixels as the previous iPhone into its Retina Display for sharper text, images and video. iPhone 7

‘There’s never been a display like this on a phone,’ said Steve Jobs at the launch. ‘People haven’t even dreamed of a display like this on a phone.’

The better display meant people started watching video on their phones – relatively unheard of at the time. Now we all have Netflix.

The iPhone 7 has an even sharper Retina HD screen – the brightest, most colourful iPhone display yet. 


7. Made smartphones and tech products beautiful

The first iPhone came a long way in terms of design from the phones of the late 90s. But it wasn’t ‘til iPhone 4 in 2010 that the smartphone became a serious fashion accessory

‘This is really hot,’ said Steve Jobs as he introduced what was to be ‘the biggest leap since the original iPhone’.

‘It’s one of the most beautiful designs you’ve even seen,’ he said – and he was right. It was all glass and stainless steel, made with precision to a super-thin design – the first phone to really make a point of being thin.

Each flagship phone since then from Apple and others has had design and desirability at its core. The iPhone 7 turned heads last year with its sleek black finish made from bead-blasted aluminium.

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