The world is a different place now than it was just a decade ago. My original 2007 iPhone doesn’t work anymore but looking back I still see that same industrial magic in iPhone X even though both phones are flat slabs with rounded corners. Yet, look at how much has changed.
I asked the rhetorical question in the headline because last week I read that director Steven Soderbergh shot a movie entirely on an iPhone. Think about that for a moment. A feature length movie shot on an iPhone instead of using traditional film or expensive digital cameras like the RED MONSTRO 8K camera (recent iPhones can shoot 4K video).
Progress. Technological innovation, Apple style, is iterative and disruptive, though not necessarily at the same time. Iterative innovations are visible in the annual iPhone updates– camera, CPU, screen, iOS, etc– but combine year over year to produce a monumental difference in advancements within a decade.
Personal photographs from the early iPhones were anything but competitive to even entry level DSLRs or point-and-shoot cameras of the era. Today’s iPhones are good enough to shoot movies and display HDR content; not to mention 4K, slow-motion, and time-lapse. All in a device that fits into your pocket.
Along the way Apple also introduced more disruptive technology. Passwords were replaced with fingerprint scanners in Touch ID and that will be replaced by facial recognition in Face ID, visible now in iPhone X. It just works. It’s Apple’s typical blend of convenience and security. How good will Face ID and the TrueDepth camera and sensor array be a decade from now?
To be honest, just a quick look backwards a few decades reveals startling changes. In a previous life just a few decades I worked for a small commercial production company. Think giant video tape recorders, A-B roll, multi-track audio recorders, and all the associated equipment used by professionals of the era. Absolutely everything we could produce back then on very expensive cameras, tape recorders, and studio editing equipment can be produced today with a Mac, iPhone, and a decent microphone. And the Mac is there simply because it’s faster to edit video on the Mac’s larger screen than the iPhone’s screen. Swap out the Mac for an iPad and the capability and quality remains but at a lower price tag.
For most of Apple’s customers, the iPhone is the center device in their lives; one that captures and stores and shares moments in photos and videos, but also allows people to connect with others almost anywhere in the world. That is a massive change that has occurred only in the last decade. More than 3-billion people have smartphones which do, in varying degrees of quality, what an iPhone X can do.
Now, let’s look back at that decade– from 2007 to 2017– and then give consideration to the changes we will see from 2017 to 2027. What’s coming? Already we see Apple planting itself as the 4K HDR leader, a level of quality which will make many television stars and news reporters look like relics from a century ago. What else is coming? Apple Glasses? Health implants? And what effect will all these future changes have upon society? We’ve already seen an upheaval with the use of social media on our devices? Will totalitarian governments rule with an iron fist in a decade? Or, will there be mostly digital anarchy?
As Bob Dylan said, “The times they are-a-changin’.”