FEATURE: 01.27.20- Apple spewed out a great number of innovations under the watch of its former CEO, Steve Jobs, most of it created during the first ten years of the 21st century alone such as the iPod and the iPhone but two products to follow which came towards the end of the late co-founder’s time on this earth, one technically a larger spinoff of sorts and the other an updated version of the original device, would later define this past decade as far as influential and game changing technology is concerned.
The pair of innovations being referred to are the iPad and the iPhone 4S, iconic devices that were unveiled in 2010 (in fact, ten years to the day today) and 2011 respectively, the former for a completely brand new product category for the tech giant — tablet computers — which has evolved into the future of modern computing, and, the latter for the inclusion of the artificial intelligence (A.I.) powered Siri where it first became mainstream and ubiquitous which eventually would spawn the age of digital personal assistants.
In Wired magazine’s “Decade in Review” series, the technology oriented publication took a look at ten products on both sides of the spectrum that were either innovative breakthroughs or duds and with the tech giant that it is, of course, the Cupertino, California-based company would make the cut and be a key player in the two lists published.
Falling under the category of “The 10 Tech Products That Defined This Decade” are the aforementioned iPad and iPhone 4S, two devices from Apple which senior writer Lauren Goode chose as having the most impact during the last ten years.
“There’s no shortage of products that are hailed by their creators as revolutionary or totally transformative upon launch,” wrote Goode.
“Sure, every company that births a new gadget into the world wants to believe that its innovative design and fancy new manufacturing process is going to profoundly change the way we experience technology in the future. But of course they think this way — it sometimes actually happens.”
Goode would go on to give ten instances — presented chronologically by release rather than rank (since, as the senior writer pointed out, the choices span various industries so its individual impact can’t be measured on the same scale) — from the years between 2010 and 2019 when it actually did happen, products that defined this decade and, in her own words, arrived with a splash and grew into a typhoon.
On the Apple tablet computer, Goode wrote that the iPad is no longer just a nice (device) for reading magazines and watching videos: it’s the computer of the future.
“When Steve Jobs first showed off the iPad in early 2010, a lot of people wondered whether was room in the middle for a product that was much bigger than a smartphone, but lighter than and more limited than a laptop. … But the iPad was also the culmination of years of tablet starts and stops for Apple, and Jobs might envisioned what the rest of us hadn’t imagined yet: that mobile products really would become the most important devices in our lives, and that the processors inside these devices would eventually outpower the chips inside your everyday laptop. … .”
Goode would mention subsequent iterations of the iPad for its unique innovations such as the iPad Air in 2013 and the iPad Pro in 2015, the former redefining what thin and light meant while the latter being the first to support a stylus-like accessory with the introduction of the Apple Pencil, an innovation in its own right and most notable for going against Jobs’s strong opinion – as expressed in his keynote address regarding multitouch on the iPhone during its unveiling in 2007 – that our fingers are the best pointing device in the world that we are born with).
On the Apple smartphone — the fifth generation model in line after the very first — Goode wrote that the launch of the original iPhone in 2007 was one of the most influential events of our modern era but within this past decade the iPhone 4S, unveiled in October 2011, was the big game changer.
“The freshly redesigned device included three new features that would redefine the way we use personal tech devices for the foreseeable future: Siri, iCloud on iOS 5, and a camera that could capture both 8 megapixel still photos and 1080p HD videos,” wrote Goode.
“Within a short time, these delightfully capable cameras in our pockets started to decimate the compact digital camera market, or in some cases, killed competitors outright (remember the Flip?). iCloud, formerly MobileMe, became the connected software tissue that would sync our apps and data across multiple [Apple] products. And Siri … well, Siri is still trying to find its way. At the very least, it showed us how helpful virtual assistants could be in tightly controlled, polished product demos.”
Eclipsing the iPhone 4S on a much larger scale for the groundbreaking innovation contained within it — The device itself merely serving as a vessel of sorts for a piece of software that would forever change our lives — (an aspect overlooked, or mistake made, by Goode with only a footnote of sorts mentioned in her analysis) — was Siri, a technology that Apple acquired from the original creators who released it as a standalone app on the App Store in 2010 which the tech giant eventually would include in every subsequent iOS device in 2011 and much later, the Mac in 2016, after it first was incorporated into its smartphone. And, as is usually the case with most of the innovations from the Cupertino, California-based company, (like the iPad before it, something Good would mention where she wrote how other creators got the message and raced to iterate, some successfully and some not), its competitors would copy and follow suit with copycat versions debuting shortly thereafter: from Alexa by Amazon to Bixby by rival Samsung (just to name a few).
However, with every success comes failure and Apple innovations certainly are not exempt with one of its products making Wired magazine’s list of tech bombs.
In the category of “The 10 Worst Tech Product Launches of the 2010s” is the predecessor to the iPhone 4S, a device where Apple was embroiled in the infamous fiasco over reception problems (known as “antennagate“) that the smartphone faced which Christopher Null (his title and position with the publication not indicated unlike that of Goode) made a point to mention.
“… our pick for the worst Apple gaffe of the decade has to go to the iPhone 4,” wrote Null.
“Due to an embarrassing antenna design glitch, the device wouldn’t connect to the cellular network if you held it the wrong way. ‘Antennagate’ culminated in Steve Jobs addressing the issue personally and Apple giving away a free rubber bumper to any iPhone 4 user who wanted one. A lawsuit later netted some owners $15 each in compensation.”
In addition to the iPhone 4, Null also would talk about Apple’s other, in his own words, flubs, from the badly designed butterfly keyboards of the MacBook notebook computer line — introduced as a new design for those models in 2015 to help make the machines more thinner and lighter — that even prompted a class action lawsuit, to Ping which he described as a wannabe social network.
“Hey, you didn’t think Cupertino was going to escape this list unscathed, did you?” wrote Null.