It’s ten years to the day since Steve Jobs launched the iPhone and defined the shape of the portable networked computers that now dominate our lives and act as the portal between real and virtual worlds for so many of us.
I remember it well, mostly because I didn’t see that the touchscreen was a beautifully usable interface. I even said as much on the BBC News website, back when I had a weekly column:
Having used a smartphone with a touchscreen for over a year, I can testify to the sheer irritation of having “keys” that offer no tactile feedback when you touch them and of trying to use a handheld device that forces you to stare closely at the screen whenever you’re trying to do call a number or send a text.
Touch screens work well for larger devices or fixed displays, but I’m back with a proper number pad now and loving it. I suspect that many iPhone users will do the same.
I even managed to get myself completely roasted by Fake Steve Jobs, who pointed out my arrogance and that he ‘had no idea who you were or that you went to Brasenose-upon-Oxford-in-Cambridge’ (OK, it’s not exactly a badge of honour but does show I was being read and listened to at the time).
What I failed to see at the time was the thing that is most obvious now: the iPhone wasn’t a telephone, it was a computer. And – until the advent of Echo and Google Home- we look at our computers when we use them. I was thinking about texting, not interacting.
Ah well. It’s good to remember when you got it wrong- and ask yourself every day whether you’re about to say something foolish about the next big breakthrough.
PS you can get your own copy of Reflection, which runs on a variety of ‘computers’ on the App Store. And you should.