360° IT Check #48 - iPhone's 15th Birthday, Tailwind 3.1, Photoshop Gets A Freemium Version, And More!
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Happy Birthday, iPhone - 15 Memorable Moments For The 15th Birthday
Love it or hate it, iPhones changed how phones work, forever. Since the phone is celebrating its 15th birthday soon on June 29th, 2022, we decided to share our choice of fifteen memorable moments for the fifteenth birthday of the product. Happy Birthday, iPhone!
2007. The Announcement of the First iPhone.
The moment was a pretty significant shift in the history of cell phones. Many might have forgotten about how mobile phones looked like back then. Nokia was the king, with their wide line of phones with physical keyboards.
There were many drawbacks of the approach. One example: if you liked to go to the beach, your phone was rendered pretty much useless for some time at least. Sand would get between the keys, and you had to spend quite a lot of time getting it out. User Interfaces (UIs) were perhaps easy to make, since there was one option to make it work, although the options were severely limited.
Then came the iPhone. With the touch screen, superior touch screen controls, and multimedia capabilities no other mobile phone could match. The product was a breakthrough, and one of the most significant in the history of civil engineering. Not everyone agreed with this. One famous case was Steve Ballmer, the ex-CEO of Microsoft. Quoting Business Insider:
"Five hundred dollars? Fully subsidized? With a plan? I said that is the most expensive phone in the world," Ballmer reportedly said of the first iPhone. "And it doesn't appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard. Which makes it not a very good email machine."
If you never watched the original keynote, it’s definitely worth catching up:
2007. PWAs, the true “Think Different” moment.
PWAs, or Progressive Web Apps, are a bridge between the native experience, and the web experience. They are installable, and offline-capable websites, that could have taken the world by storm. Steve Jobs believed that they were the way to go. Below, you may see him announcing the way to create apps for the first iPhone just 18 days before the launch.
This was the true “think different” moment, because nobody even dreamt of native apps being built with web technologies at that time. Fast forward, and this is a valid approach many companies go for. Slightly underused, though not without merit.
2008. Three Comes After One, and Three S Comes After 4.
iPhone 3G was the first iPhone to work with the 3G network. Apart from the 3G, there were a couple of more features that company added to the phone, such as GPS, or “tri-band UMTS/HSDPA”. It was also the first time that the App Store icon appeared on home screen of users; it was one of the most lucrative decisions of the company to date, and a reversal of the decision to stick with PWAs.
Some people were confused about the versioning of iPhones, though. First, there was an iPhone. Then there was the iPhone 3G, after which there was an iPhone 3Gs, and an iPhone 4. Does it make sense from the math’s point of view? Perhaps not, though one could justify such odd decisions.
It is important to note, that the iPhone 3G was the last one to not support multitasking.
2010. The reception issue – “but all other phones got it as well.”
iPhone 4 was a brilliant feat of engineering, although it had one issue – the reception was poor. The company did not want to admit the issue for some time, until… it did. During a live press conference in 2010, Steve Jobs admitted “We are not perfect.” This was a remarkable, for a CEO of an enterprise, show of self-awareness. After the company faked phones reception levels, Apple took the blame, and admitted there was something going on. It was a great decision, until the company said, to paraphrase, “we are not perfect, but so are others.” If you never watched the press conference, now is the time to do so (be sure to start from 1:57).
Upon investigation, we were stunned to find that the formula we use to calculate how many bars of signal strength to display is totally wrong. Our formula, in many instances, mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength. For example, we sometimes display 4 bars when we should be displaying as few as 2 bars. Users observing a drop of several bars when they grip their iPhone in a certain way are most likely in an area with very weak signal strength, but they don’t know it because we are erroneously displaying 4 or 5 bars. Their big drop in bars is because their high bars were never real in the first place.
Long story short: yes, Apple did admit to falsely reporting wrong figures. No, they did not fix the hardware issue, but at least users were not lied to.
2011. Steve Job’s last keynote.
Steve Jobs was a legendary innovator. He introduced many breakthrough products, including the one we are writing about here. His tenure at Apple, and his life, are topics for a whole book, or a movie, and there are plenty of them out there. Some might say including this point here is irrelevant, though we would say that the history of iPhones is tied to Steve Jobs.
Below, is the video of the last keynote of the legendary CEO
2012. The Lightning Port Replacing the 30-pin Port.
The old 30-pin dock connector was a monstrosity. It was big, and chunky, and it took up lots of space. It’s no wonder, that Apple wanted to replace it with a much smaller Lightning port that used only 8 pins. Although the change was most welcome to most users, it was still a proprietary port that only Apple was, and is, using. The iPads Pro switched to USB-C in 2018, which leaves us guessing whether the company will not want to switch to the more popular USB port soon.
It's entirely possible, that if the American company will want to sell its products in the EU, they will have to switch to the USB-C port.
2013. 64-bit CPUs.
Yes, perhaps the iPhone 5s was made the old way, though it brought a new CPU forward. It introduced the first 64-bit CPU in a mobile phone. Let’s be clear here, though. It was more of a marketing move than a tech move. The 64-bit architecture brings very little to the table, alone. The biggest feature is being able to work with more than 4GB of RAM… while the phone had 1GB of it.
One nice thing about the switch, is that it did bring OS X and iOS closer together, and made creating cross-platform apps slightly easier. It also put pressure on Intel. Apple said “look, we have this chip, and we can also create a chip like that for our computers.” As the time showed, the company from Cupertino did just that.
2013. Flat iOS.
iOS icons used to be full of gradients, and made to resemble real-life objects. The design used to be the iPhone thing – ever since the first phone came out. Little do people know, there was a battle raging behind the scenes for deciding how should the iOS look like.
Jonathan Ive claimed, that the virtual world should not be tied down by the physical predecessors. Scott Forstal, who was in charge of designing the mobile operating system claimed otherwise. Luckily for Ive, Forstal had to leave Apple one day, because of the Apple Maps fiasco. Ive was then promoted to the head of iOS. He then had the freedom to reinvent the mobile system, which he did.
Was it for better? Was it for worse? Let us know in the comments on social media.
2014. A Swift Change.
Swift is a programming language that replaced Objective-C in 2014. Arguably, it’s much cleaner, easier on the eye, and borrows what’s best from a couple of programming languages including Rust, Python, Haskell, and a few others. Initially, released under a proprietary license, the team soon change their minds, releasing the programming language under the Apache 2.0 License.
The language was so well designed, that in 2015, it won first place for the most-loved language in the Stack Overflow Developer Survey, and a year later came in second. It’s perhaps due to it being as friendly as a scripting language would be, while being a fully-fledged enterprise-quality language. For more about Swift, please visit the official website.
2014. Physical home button replaced with a “fake” one.
The physical home button was something users liked. The press of it just felt nice – it was something entirely (in)tangible, yet so appreciated. It was also something that broke the most often. Due to it being an “analog”, hardware, button it had its limits.
Yet, when Apple opted to change it to the touch version, fans complained. When the iPhone 6 came out, people missed the analog feel, and felt alienated because of the change. iPhone 5s remained the last phone made in “the old way."
2014. The Big and the Small.
Up until the iPhone 6, the phone was like Ford’s Model T. Your phone could come in any size, as long as it was the only one produced by the company. All changed with the iPhone 6 Plus. The company from California answered other manufacturers, who had introduced larger phones prior to the release of the aforementioned bigger model in 2014. Alongside its smaller sibling they doubled the array of screen-size choices.
There was one issue, however. The iPhone 6 Plus would bend rather easily. People’s phones would even bend in their pockets. Here’s a video about the mishap:
2016. Hit The Road Jack.
With the launch of the iPhone 7, the company from California got rid of one crucial feature of phones. One of the oldest, too. It was the headphone jack.
Bluetooth headphones are convenient, and there were adapters out there, though the phone makers alienated a big part of the market. People who cared about sound quality are always going to go for wired headphones. While mobile phones are not the best devices for an audiophile, there is a big difference between the sound coming from the wired headphones vs the sound coming from the Bluetooth headphones. Yes, the adapter from the audio jack to the lightning port worked well, you then could not charge your phone.
The reasoning behind the change was to save some space inside, but as few other models showed, it could not have been entirely the truth.
As a matter of fact, one YouTuber spent months on fixing the issue: he actually added the 3.5mm headphone jack to his iPhone.
2017. iPhone X.
iPhone X was a big deal. It was the first phone to rock an all-screen display. It was also the first phone form Apple to not have any button beneath the screen. The manufacturer had to come up with a way to let users navigate phone’s features. The company came up with a neat way to use gestures to do everything one could have done using the button underneath the gorgeous display. Frankly, the all-screen displays, and the new way of navigating phones feels more “touch-screen”, and less “old Nokias”.
When the iPhone lost its home button, and thus a fingerprint scanner, the company had to come up with a way to allow for a biometric authentication.
The solution? FaceID – the new way to unlock your phone. Your phone now scanned your face, checking whether it’s really you in front of it. Crucially, photos of you wouldn’t unlock your phone, as there needed to be a 3D version of your face.
The new mechanism was lightning fast, and worked well in the dark. One major flaw of the approach came up during the pandemic. When people started wearing face masks, their phones stopped recognizing them. Oops.
2019. “Privacy. That’s iPhone.”
iOS and Android, while alike, have a distinct stance on privacy. Google makes money from analyzing our data. Apple makes money (mainly) by selling their software and products. It does make sense, therefore, that the company from Cupertino would emphasize its product privacy features, when Google came under increasing scrutiny from the public.
The manufacturer of the iPhones came up with a brilliant campaign with the tagline “Privacy. That’s iPhone.” Before that, the company hung up a massive billboard, at the beginning of 2019, that said “[w]hat happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.” Unfortunately, that was not entirely true… Nevertheless, it’s entirely plausible, that iPhone is a device that respects your privacy more than Android phones. Then again, you may install an unofficial ROM on your Android, such as LineageOS.
2021. Smaller notch
The Notch on top of the screen of iPhones was really wide. Some ridiculed the phones for such a design, including Apple’s competitor, Samsung.
Apple's WWDC 2022 annual conference finished up on June 10th. Apple gave a rundown of the soon-to-be-released iOS 16 containing multiple changes to the lock screen, Live Text, and Maps updates. CarPlay sees an extensive overhaul and announcements of new hardware, the M2 chip, and macOS Ventura from Apple.
iOS 16's updates to the lock screen include a significant change to widget usage by allowing third-party app widgets to run. In addition, the new "Live Activities" API will let developers update notifications in real-time, such as the progress of deliveries or sports updates.
CarPlay looks to be making a big push to track all your driving habits while also making the analogue instrument panel completely obsolete. How far they will be able to go will depend on the car manufacturer, so there is still hope for a malfunctioning fuel gauge in the future.
iPadOS will also see improvements in productivity with a new addition called "Stage Manager", allowing you to run multiple overlapping apps on the screen. While another key addition is iPadOS will now enable those 16GB memory versions to use the extra juice that apps were previously unavailable to access.
On the financial services front, Apple Pay will now include a Buy Now, Pay Later option. Apple has now joined the fintech trend of basically becoming your payday loan operator, albeit without the excessive interest rates.
As for the hardware, Apple will update M1 chipset, replacing it with the M2, which is said to be 18% faster, according to the company. Included in the chip update are new MacBook Airs and Pros. The MacBook Air will now have a flat design, more on par with the aesthetic of the Pro. For creatives, this will provide a 20% improvement for image editing and a 40% bump for video editing.
macOS will include the aforementioned "Stage Manager", same as the iPadOS. The push for passkey usage is here, allowing their usage instead of passwords in Safari, increasing security while browsing. The Mail app will see support for, unsend, scheduled send, and timed reminders as well.
Using your iPhone camera for video calls will now be an option, which could be very useful for essential video calls. Also included in "Continuity Camera", it will have a function allowing you to stream a front-facing camera alongside a top-down view of your workspace without adjusting your phone mounted to your screen.
The Bottom Line
Apple's ever-expanding ecosystem sees a few updates to help user productivity, while others allow excellent integration between their devices. Improvements in the chipset alongside the new hardware will surely make someone looking to part with their money happy.
Apple continues to make its products seamless to use, which is part of the premium in the price, but in many cases, the functionality is impressive if you have all their devices.
Firstly, TypeScript types now ship by default, making configuration a bit easier.
Secondly, we may finally split our CSS files into several other files, making it easier to organize larger files. It’s odd that the feature came this late.
Lastly, there are more arbitrary values that the tool may handle now. Previously, you could have only specified arbitrary values, and now you may take advantage of arbitrary variants as well!
For the list of all the new features please watch the video below.
The Bottom Line
Tailwind CSS is one of the most popular, and frankly, hyped CSS frameworks out there. It is a utility-first framework, that instead of shipping pre-built components, ships with pre-defined atomic rules, that are really small, and lean.
Developers then combine all to create remarkable designs. For example, Bootstrap lets you style a button by using the btn btn-primary classes. In Tailwind, you would have to use text-white bg-blue-700 hover:bg-blue-800 focus:ring-4 focus:ring-blue-300 font-medium rounded-lg text-sm px-5 py-2.5 mr-2 mb-2 dark:bg-blue-600 dark:hover:bg-blue-700 focus:outline-none dark:focus:ring-blue-800, instead. It is indeed a lot more typing, though it’s similar to writing CSS by adding class names.
Adobe Making Photoshop Free on the Web For Everybody
Adobe has announced a freemium version of Photoshop, taking its cues from the app and gaming world. The web-only version has started testing in Canada, and the company plans to release it to everyone in the future. Keeping with the freemium ethos, you will gain access to some of the app's features, but you will need to subscribe to get the complete feature list of the web application.
"We want to make Photoshop more accessible and easier for more people to try it out and experience the product," says Maria Yap, Adobe's VP of digital imaging.
This version will be web-only and will be a way for them to get more users to test out some of the features of the more expensive and powerful software version. The change will also create an opportunity for the tools of Photoshop on Chromebooks, where usage is widespread in schools.
To start using the web-only app, you only need an Adobe account, which is also free. The goal for the freemium version is Adobe wants to make Photoshop more accessible while also trying to hook you into using their standalone software in the future.
The Bottom Line
This move from Adobe is a useful one for a casual user. A significant drawback to Photoshop's main offer is the hardware you need to access the software's full potential. In many cases, even decent laptops stall while using Photoshop, and the cost of entry is a bit high if you are not using the program regularly. This freemium option is an excellent way to get users to use the basics of Adobe's image editing software without forcing them to rethink their finances.
360° IT Check is a weekly publication where we bring you the latest and greatest in the world of tech. We cover topics like emerging technologies & frameworks, news about innovative startups, and other topics which affect the world of tech directly or indirectly.