Apple didn’t invent the smartphone, however there is little doubt they created the first true modern smartphone and perhaps without knowing – changed forever the way we use our phones, and created industries and functions that could not have been foreseen at the time. When Steve Jobs stood on stage at MacWorld in January 2007 and revealed the iPhone for the very first time there was no mention of apps, or even accessories other than a bluetooth earpiece. Looking back it’s safe to say Steve Jobs could never have imagined what the iPhone would be able to do just seven years later.
At the Keynote in 2007 where Steve Jobs announced the iPhone, he teased the audience with talk of a “Widescreen iPod with touch controls”, a “revolutionary mobile phone” and a “breakthrough internet communicator”.
Together, he said “an iPod, an iPhone, an Internet Communicator, an iPod, an iPhone, an Internet Communicator, are you getting it – these are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we’re calling it – iPhone”
During the presentation a lot of features were highlighted. They included things like
- Touch your music
- Widescreen video
- Find your music even faster
- Gorgeous album art
- Built-in speaker
- Cover flow
- Use contacts like never before
- Visual voicemail
- Rich html email
- Fully usable web browser
- Google maps
- Widgets of weather and stocks
In fact, it wasn’t until well over a year later, March 2008, that the App Store was announced.
Fast forward to 2014 and the things we are able to do with our Smartphones, in particular the iPhone are just mind-blowing. Steve Jobs could never have imagined some of these things in even his wildest dreams. Watching the 2007 keynote, the audience cheers when they first see Steve Jobs use his finger to swipe up on the screen to scroll through his contacts. This was revolutionary at the time. Today, we take it for granted.
Imagine the following applications and uses for the iPhone were presented to the audience in 2007 – there would be nothing but disbelief. But in 2014, these are all a reality.
Play music on a speaker in a room at the other side of your house
We take wireless music for granted. In the early years of iPhone a vast range of “docks” became available. You put your phone into the dock to play the music through the attached speakers.
When he introduced the iPhone in 2007 Steve Jobs mentioned a fantastic Bluetooth earpiece – this was for hands-free calling. Bluetooth has evolved and today we use it to wirelessly connect to a speaker in the area and with the touch of a button your music is streamed across the room to a powerful and super-high quality speaker. Like magic:)
Turn on your lights at home from anywhere in the world
From laying in bed and using your device to switch off the room light, or being on the other side of the world to check if the lights are on or off, the Belkin Wemo app is amazingly powerful at remotely controlling power points and light switches.
Change the colour of your lights
With the lightbulbs or lightstrips from Philips as part of their Hue range, you can use your iPhone to control the colour, brightness and on/off status of a single light or group of lights with the slide and touch of the screen.
Open your front door without a physical key
Thanks to Bluetooth, your phone can now be the method by which your front door knows you are home. With the iPhone in your pocket and just the touch of a finger to the lock your Kevo front door deadlock will search for your iPhone and if found unlock the door.
You can even email a spare key to your home to a friend for constant use or just a single day.
Track your sleep and steps
With the huge range of “Appcessories” on the market, the latest trend has been “wearables”. Devices like the Jawbone Up or Garmin Vivosmart can count the number of steps you make, the hours you sleep and the quality of that sleep, and when in range of your phone that data is shared automatically via Bluetooth.
Within the app for that device you can view your daily activities, and with the recent upgrade to iOS 8 that data can now be shared across devices and across apps within Apple’s HealthKit to give you and your medical professional a good look at just how you’re doing.
Monitor your heart-rate: real-time ECG
Getting an ECG used to be the domain of advanced doctors offices and hospitals. Today, you can buy a cover for your phone or a wireless device which when paired with an app can actually give you an on-screen ECG on your smartphone.
There is no way on earth anyone at Apple, Samsung or any other company thought that was coming.
Samsung today even have heart-rate monitors built-into their new Galaxy S5 and smart-watches.
Change the temperature in your home
So you’ve installed ducted air-conditioning at your home. There’s a controller for that on the wall somewhere in the home, but if you’re too lazy to get up and change it, or perhaps you’re driving home and it’s a lot hotter outside than you’d expected and you’d like to turn the air conditioner on? Simple. Open up your Actron Connect app and turn it on, adjust the temperature, set a timer or even turn on and off individual zones in your home.
It’s simple, innovative and all from an Aussie company.
Monitor your flowers and plants
I didn’t believe this when I first saw it, so there’s no chance Steve Jobs saw it coming. The Flower Power from Parrot is a small device you stick into the soil around your plant which then supplies real-time and archival data to the Flower Power App. The App then uses an online database to determine the health and wellbeing of the plant. Does it need more water? Fertiliser? Perhaps it’s not getting enough sun?
It’s one of the most niche products I’ve seen, but it’s also one of the most powerful – such a simple idea, and for those who struggle with their green-thumbs, a lifesaver.
Locate your car
Worried about someone stealing your car? Carlock plugs into your car’s On-Board diagnostic port and via its built-in GPS, Sensors and SIM Card allows you to use an App to locate it, track it and get notifications of movement or even the engine starting – right on your phone, no matter where you are.
Pay for petrol and groceries
While it’s not available in Australia yet, Apple Pay will revolutionise Mobile Payments. Again, not the first to do it, yet Apple seem to have found a better way of executing the payment process to make it simple for the user.
This ability to tap your phone against the payment terminal, choose your payment card from the lock-screen of the phone and verify with your fingerprint is going to be a game-changer.
Call a cab (and track it on the way to you)
Sick of hoping a cab will turn up, be it on the street corner or having booked via the phone. Worry no more. GoCatch, Ingogo, Uber, these taxi and hire-car apps have made the process something very different.
Using an app you can now request a cab, follow it’s path toward you on a map, and even pay the driver without even needing to swipe a credit card.
It’s turning the taxi industry on its head – for all the right reasons.
Play immersive fully functional games
While I have no doubt the team at Apple foresaw the gaming functionality of the device they had created, do we think they imagined just how many hours we’d spend playing games?
From Flappy Bird on your own, or Words with Friends with random internet challengers or your own friends, we’re doing gaming on such a different level today than we ever used to.
Games like Scrabble have been revolutionised by their new Apps which allow players in the same room to play the game together on multiple devices.
Plus, these in-app payments are big business for developers (and Apple) which has turned the Gaming business model on its head.
“Read” money to tell you what it is
For people with a Vision impairment being in a foreign country and not knowing the value of the currency in your hand. You want to know it’s ten Singapore dollars, or twenty US dollars, not something higher or lower.
With the LookTel money reading app, you can point your phone at the note, and it will “tell” you what it is, both currency and denomination.
Remotely control almost anything
From toy-helicopters, to remote control cars, flying drones or even the shows on your TV, your smartphone can be a remote control for almost anything.
Using Bluetooth or WiFi connections these devices allow you to send control signals just like you would have with a more classic remote control.
With the inclusion of an accelerometer and gyroscope in the iPhone it’s also possible to control things by simply twisting and tilting your phone or tablet.
Monitor your baby with a live video feed
Gone are the days of listening out for bubba’s crying. And there’s no need for a dedicated screen to connect to an in-room baby-monitor. Today, your smartphone can be the screen for a remote wireless camera. Get a notification of movement or sound and “tune in” to see a live picture of your baby. Several companies are making these devices, from Belkin to Withings and their setup and installation is a breeze.
Your personal assistant is now your phone
Have you met Siri? Press that home button and ask her “what’s on today” and this personal assistant will run you through your calendar for the day. She can also help with the weather, transport or just basic research.
Siri is powerful, but her best is still ahead of her. When Apple’s CarPlay comes to vehicles the integration will allow you to hear messages, dictate messages and much more – all with the touch of one button and then completely hands-free.
Check the progress of your BBQ or Roast with iGrill
Whether it’s a roast in the oven or a steak on the BBQ – the iGrill is a thermometer without a screen. Instead, it wirelessly connects to your smartphone or tablet and shows you the cooking progress and gives alerts and notification of progress.
Monitor your Toothbrushing
With Oral-B’s latest smart connected brush, you can see the time you’ve spent brushing while you brush right there on the screen of your iPhone.
Over time your phone records your brushing history, and your dentist can tell the brush – via your app – to have you focus on a particular area of your teeth for longer than normal.
You’ll be brushing twice a day for two minutes in no time if you’re not already.
Help us add to this list – tell us in the comments below about the things you use your iPhone for that could never have been imagined in 2007.
There’s more, lots more. And we can only begin to wonder what else might come.
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.