Cult of Mac Magazine: iPhone turns 10: Inside stories from a decade of Apple innovation

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Cult of Mac Magazine: iPhone Turns 10
Get behind-the-scenes stories from the quest to create a world-changing gadget.
Image: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

It’s hard to put into words the iPhone’s massive impact on society over the past decade. But we tried! In this week’s Cult of Mac Magazine, we’ve rounded up our best coverage (including stories from our collaboration with Wired UK) of the iPhone’s 10th anniversary.

We’ve got insider stories about the development of breakthrough iPhone features, ultra-rare iPhone prototypes and much more for your reading pleasure. Get your free subscription to Cult of Mac Magazine from iTunes. Or read on for this week’s top stories.

Camaraderie, chaos and the original iPhone launch stories you’ve never heard, on The CultCast

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Introducing, iPhone
Though Steve played it cool, the iPhone's launch was plagued with huge problems.

This week on The CultCast: You’d never know it from Steve Jobs’ effortless keynote introduction, but the original iPhone was plagued with huge design and production issues that almost made Apple call it quits — right up until the day it was released! To commemorate the iPhone’s 10th anniversary, we’ll recount some of the incredible stories behind iPhone’s beleaguered early days, and celebrate how Apple pulled off one of the greatest device launches in history.

Our thanks to Shutterstock for supporting this episode. Kickstart your next interactive project with video clips or music tracks from their collection, and save 20 percent for a limited time at shutterstock.com/cultcast.

The inside story of the iPhone’s ‘Slide to Unlock’ gesture

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slide to unlock lock screen
Slide-to-unlock is one of the iconic gestures of the iPhone. It looks simple, but it was tricky to get right.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

iPhone turns 10 This an excerpt from Unsung Apple Hero, an e-book about UI designer Bas Ording’s career at Apple. Ording is responsible for a big chunk of today’s computing interfaces, but is little-known because of Apple’s super-strict privacy policies. Hit the link at the bottom of this post to get a free copy of the e-book.

One of the key design decisions that Apple’s Human Interface Team made early on while developing the iPhone was to go all in on big, simple gestures. They wanted to make a single, simple swipe accomplish as much as possible.

It’s a bit ironic. After investing so much in multitouch technology, which relies on multiple touch inputs, one of Apple’s key edicts was to make as many gestures as possible work with a single finger.

The future of the iPhone

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wearable iPhone concept
Will a future iPhone replace your Apple Watch?
Photo: ConceptsiPhone

iPhone turns 10 The iPhone’s success has been nothing short of spectacular. With more than 1 billion units sold as of June 2016, rival consumer electronics companies can only dream of building a product that popular.

It’s not easy to foresee how the iPhone will evolve in the future. Some things are obvious — like faster processors, more advanced cameras, and even better displays — but we must look beyond these to get a sense of Apple’s biggest ambitions. Here’s some of the many ways the iPhone might get better, stronger and faster in the next 10 years.

Weird glitch makes original iPhone even more lovable

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iPhone user
Photographer Joe Cunningham still thinks his original iPhone is the best.
Photo: Joe Cunningham

iPhone turns 10 The iPhone has changed enormously in the 10 years since it launched, but some people still think the first iPhone was the best.

Take, for instance, Minnesota photographer Joe Cunningham, who owns not one but two of Apple’s breakthrough smartphones. He doesn’t view them as investments, either. Even though the original iPhone goes for big bucks on eBay these days, Cunningham continues to use both handsets on a daily basis.

Tech titans bow down to iPhone’s radical change

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What does Tony Fadell,
What does Tony Fadell, "godfather" of the iPod, think of the iPhone?
Photo: Nest

iPhone turns 10Over the past decade, the iPhone has changed pretty much everything, from communication and gaming to the way in which we consume news and pay for our groceries. But how has the device impacted the lives of tech titans?

Find out from Eben Upton, creator of Raspberry Pi; Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia; Tony Fadell, founder of Nest and “godfather” of the iPod, and more.

Earliest iPhone test rig built from wood, duct tape and old Polaroid lenses

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iPhone team members
Members of the original iPhone development team, Greg Christie, Bas Ording and Brian Huppi talking to journalist Brian Merchant.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

PALO ALTO, California — The first iPhone “prototype” was strung together using bits of wood, duct tape and some old Polaroid lenses.

Key members of the Apple team reminisced about those early DIY efforts Wednesday night during a discussion led by Brian Merchant, author of The One Device, a new book about the birth of the iPhone.

“This thing was really kludged together,” said Brian Huppi, a former Apple engineer who helped build the first system. “It was built out of wood, duct tape and old lenses from the ’60s.”

See extremely rare iPhone prototypes in action

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iPhone prototypes
These prototypes show some of the early steps Apple took in developing the revolutionary iPhone.
Photo: Hap Plain

iPhone turns 10 Apple collector Hap Plain can observe the iPhone’s 10th anniversary today by powering up two extremely rare iPhone prototypes — and you can see them in action, too.

The prototypes, which likely passed through the hands of Apple execs including Steve Jobs, Tony Fadell and Scott Forstall, offer a unique glimpse at iPhone development. You can see Plain fire them up in the video below, the latest entry in Cult of Mac’s collaboration with Wired UK to recap a decade of the iPhone.

Today in Apple history: Fans line up to get their hands on the very first iPhones

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First gen iPhone
The smartphone that changed smartphones!
Photo: Traci Dauphin/Cult of Mac

June 29 Today in Apple historyJune 29, 2007: The first iPhone goes on sale, giving excited Apple fans lined up outside stores their first chance at owning the game-changing smartphone.

The queues that greet the iPhone launch around the world prove that Cupertino is onto a good thing with the smartphone, first shown off by Steve Jobs earlier that year.

The inside story of the iconic ‘rubber band’ effect that launched the iPhone

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Bas Ording Apple interface designer
Former Apple designer Bas Ording created the rubber band effect, which convinced Steve Jobs to build the iPhone.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

iPhone turns 10 One day in early 2005, interface designer Bas Ording was sitting in a secret, windowless lab at Apple HQ when the phone rang. It was Steve Jobs.

The first thing Jobs says is that the conversation is super-secret, and must not be repeated to anyone. Ording promises not to.

“He’s like, ‘Yeah, Bas, we’re going to do a phone,'” Ording told Cult of Mac, recalling that momentous call from long ago. “‘It’s not going to have any buttons and things on it, it’s just a screen. Can you build a demo that you can scroll through a list of names, so you could choose someone to call?’ That was the assignment I got, like pretty much directly from Steve.”