When Steve Jobs unveiled the groundbreaking first generation iPhone in 2007, the mobile phone industry exploded. Before the iPhone, the closest thing to a smartphone was the now nearly-defunct BlackBerry and no one had ever seen a touchscreen phone before and many questioned the exclusion of a physical keyboard. Fast forward seven years and Apple has seen its stock skyrocket from $6.56 a share in 2003 to it’s pre-split price of $645.57 in 2014, thanks almost exclusively to the enormous sales generated by the iPhone. Since then, touch-screen smartphones have become the industry standard and while Apple can claim its role as a pioneer, numerous technology companies have since perfected Apple’s innovations and added a few of their own.
Clash of the Titans
In a move that has drawn some criticism from bloggers in favor of a more open technological industry, Apple patented dozens of features introduced with the iPhone from its touchscreen to its “slide to unlock” mechanism and this has touched off countless multi-billion dollar patent lawsuits around the world as Apple looks to maintain its relative supremacy in the mobile device market. With the release of the iPhone 6, Apple seems to have officially lost its untouchable throne and many see the device as emulating the success of so-called “phablets”, a portmanteau of phone and tablet, with the 6’s larger screen and a super high-resolution camera, an option first made standard by Nokia. One of the primary reason for the iPhone’s fall from grace include Google’s Android operating system which includes a myriad of unique features including the ability to swipe across the on-screen keyboard only to have the phone figure out what one meant to type, making many gripes about finicky touchscreens disappear. Today, phone manufacturers are battling to include the greatest and latest hardware advancements, and Google and Apple are slugging it out to develop the most approachable and innovative operating systems. So, where does the state of smartphones stand today?
The Latest and Greatest
In late 2013, Google released the newest Android operating system update to 4.4, named KitKat, which was optimized for lower memory phones, making it much more usable across budget devices, made more compatible with cloud networks, and had a variety of user-friendly options added such as a better Google search for browsing sites and more sensitive motion sensors. The popular Android KitKat 4.4.2 is a strong entry into the already reputable Google OS family and Apple has also recently raised the bar as well with their AOS. Much like many Apple OS launches, iOS 8 was launched with a few glitches that made some Apple users’ lives hell for a few days but they have allegedly since been fixed. The new Apple OS totes a variety of improved application functions and increased cloud compatibility as well as a huge health app that tracks activity, heart rate, and many other vital processes. And lastly, perhaps better late than never, Microsoft has finally entered into the smartphone arena officially with their purchase of Nokia and the release of their Windows Phone OS 8.1 and while it contains practically identical features as KitKat and iOS 8, it has spent quite of bit of advertising boasting about the usability of their “Cortana” artificial intelligence that is supposed to best Apple’s “Siri” function. Numerous reviews and blogs show that the Cortana function is much more comprehensive and understanding than Siri and really does take the idea of interacting with a digital assistant to a new level.
Now, if I could only wait to see what’s coming next…