Geiger's Culture Counter: Ten years of tapping, pinching, swiping

Last week was the 10th anniversary of Apple’ iPhone. The 3.5-inch multi-touch screen changed the world of mobile phones and the way we communicate forever.

The phone came out in the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school. I remember looking at my Motorola Razr and marveling at the differences. You mean I can browse the web, listen to music, watch Youtube videos and play games other than “Snake” and “Tetris”? How can I get one?

Well, I couldn’t. For one, a highschooler ‘s phone options are limited to their parents upgrade plan and budget. Secondly, way back then the iPhone was an AT&T only device. We were on Verizon because AT&T simply didn’t exist in the San Luis Valley.

Later on I upgraded to the smartphone world with the Droid. The vibrating haptic feedback amazed me. I could use Twitter and Facebook from my pocket instead of my laptop. The augmented reality apps—a word that entered the lexicon because of Apple’s advertising geniuses—like Layar, Star Walk and Google Goggles showed me worlds that were impossible to visits a few years prior.

It was a great gadget but I was still jealous of the iPhone. When Instagram was first released it—as were many apps at the time—was iPhone only. Though I had the fancy hardware, the software everyone was talking about was out of my grasp. Apple’s store remains a curatorial mess, but developer’s game or app will die if it isn’t released there first.

And if I got the software, I wanted to keep using the software. I was envious of the iPhone’s stability. My Droid received two software updates before it stopped and the new features went to newer phones. There are currently 11 different Andriod operating system versions fragmented across various phones, whereas almost every iPhone is equipped with the same code.

After Apple didn’t care about specific carriers and let Verizon in on the fun, I ditched my Droid for the iPhone 5 in college. I was so excited to own a landmark piece of technology designed by Steve Jobs that I showed it to others in the dorm.

Recipes, photo filters, quality games and more were finally at my fingertips. Angry Birds, Words with Friends, Candy Crush and Flappy Bird went viral. Before we worried too much about privacy I joined the check-in craze with Foursquare. Siri started the trend of voice-controlled assistants and 3D touch updated the swipe and taps.

Yet the years haven’t always been smooth. The iPhone 4 had antenna problems. In 2015 Apple decided to copy other manufacturers with plus-sized phones that are almost as big as a tablet. The standard 3.5mm headphone jack has been recently removed.

My five-year old phone is getting long in the tooth, but I see little reason to upgrade. Aside from processing power and megapixels, each new iteration doesn’t bring the same innovation that Apple is known for. Samsung is leading the way with wireless charging, smaller bezels and curved water-resistant screens.

I understand that not reinventing the wheel every year shows how excellent the first iPhone was; yet I can’t help but feel that things have gotten stale.

What will the iPhone 8 look like? What will the next 10 iPhones look like? What will be the future of Apple? Only time will tell.