How Apple Changed the Game

Tim Keefe & Ben Silverman

In the world of technology, the company Apple brings one thing to mind: technology. More specifically, a big selling piece is the iPhone. Regardless of when and how you heard that term, the word Apple has been associated with smartphones since the first release in 2007. This would turn out to be their biggest release, as Steve Jobs hosted an announcement that changed the technological landscape forever. 

With the ever expanding and complicated iPhone universe, many aspects of everyday life have changed. Smartphones have become the world’s only always accessible portal to their friends, family, news, sports, entertainment and countless other apps and services. 

The iPhone has brought many positives to the world, however, it has also brought many downfalls in the eye of mental health. Screen consumption has become a fast growing obsession that almost everyone partakes in on a daily basis. This obsession could be good or could be bad. 

When asked in an interview about whether there is a link between the iPhone and depression or anxiety, Ms. Harrison, the school counselor said “I don't think it is specific to just the iPhone, but technology and the fact that access to social media is so easy has led to an increase in depression and anxiety. Some people are not affected by the use of social media, while others are greatly affected by it in a negative way. Back in my day FOMO (fear of missing out) was not as much of an issue because no one had access to see where their friends were or if you were invited or not invited in real time. We might find out about a get together that we weren't included in when we got to school on Monday but by then any feelings of being left out were lessened because it had already happened.” She also said, “The iPhone (or other devices) can also be a social anxiety crutch, because people in social scenarios who are feeling uncomfortable can rely on the iPhone to ‘leave’ the real world and can avoid confronting their feelings.” 

A couple of students were also interviewed about the effects of the iPhone. Mary Adeline Stiers, a senior said “I was 12 years old. It has made my parents have the opportunity to see where I am. I have become more connected with my friends outside of my school that I likely would not be able to stay connected with. I do not spend as much time on my phone anymore as I used to because I realized that I spent way too much time on it and I did not get anything out of it. If I wanted to stay in touch with my friends, I could call them. I love facetime. I do not have any notifications. I used to revolve myself around the iPhone but I realized that the only effects it had on me were negative.”

Time that could be spent outside being healthy has gone away and being inside on technology is the new craze. According to the US National Library of Medicine, “descriptive research suggested that internet addiction is similar to drug addiction except behavioral addiction (internet addiction) doesn't involve a substance.” Their brains receive the same if not better stimulants from their phones and this causes hours upon hours of time spent indoors staring at their screens. 

When asked in an interview, Ms. Ames said ”I see advantages, you can just text someone, it is convenient. At the same time, it is a big rabbit hole that you can get lost in and waste time. I do not think people are good at having conversations with the presence of the iPhone. It is a little too intrusive in our lives. Before, it just took longer for things to get done. We did not know what we were missing. My kids had Tracfones and they did not spend a lot of time on them. Just for emergencies. It was not an integral part of their lives. However, other times it was a pain in the neck. Sometimes, practice cancellations would not be known about. If you were waiting for a phone call when you were outside you would miss it. I had to be more patient but it was not as convenient. Travelling with help of map apps has changed the game of travelling. It's basically a mini computer.” 

 While there may never be a time where phones are not in our lives, we can still work to not be so attached to them. They are a problem but only when not handled with responsibility. The iPhone itself has many features that have the capability to counteract the potentially negative effects. There are limits that can be placed like screen time for certain apps and parental controls that can limit what websites may or may not be accessible during the day. 

When asked in an interview about the effects of the iPhone, Madame Van Way said “ It is much more convenient now in hindsight. I first got a cellphone in the 90s that was for emergencies. Now, I can do everything on the iPhone such as search for restaurants, check emails, google things. I feel more in control of group traveling such as the Normandy Exchange. If I need to get a message out, I just text the group. It makes life easier now. However, before it was less bombarded on a daily basis by media and pictures or news. I could just look at stuff on nightly news or newspaper. It was more restrictive, made me want to read and be more patient. The new generation is constantly on the iPhones. Everyone seems to always want to see the new thing first. There was no need to be on top of the media.” 

Prior to the iPhone, people thought of a phone as having one function, to call people. But with the expansion and updates from Apple, not anymore. Now the iPhone serves many purposes that most people could not live without. The iPhone still does have the ability to call, but it also has the ability to text, use the internet, play games, set alarms, reminders and so much more. Everything that is needed during the day is simply on this portable handheld device.

The scene changed drastically when Apple released the iPhone 4 on June 24, 2010. Steve Jobs said  the “iPhone 4 is the biggest leap since the original iPhone.” This was a revolutionary step forward not only in the development of smartphones, but also lifestyle and overall technological development. As well, this was the first iPhone that expanded carriers past just AT&T, expanding the market for iPhone’s. On this edition of the iPhone, there was the addition of the front facing camera. This would be accompanied by the newest feature, Facetime. The addition of these key selling points pushed the Blackberry and Samsung to the backburner, and cemented iPhone as the premier smartphone choice.

Over the decade the camera has been enhanced in every new release of the iPhone, upgrading both the image quality and the amount of cameras on the back of the phone. This has served as a catalyst for photography and taking photos becoming part of everyday life. It’s even become part of the main Apple advertising, with the “Shot on iPhone” ad becoming widely known. The iPhone was the best way to combine both the functions of a computer, a camera, and a phone, with browsing capabilities and apps like Snapchat and FaceTime.

Separate from the software and hardware features of the phone, iPhones have their big, trademarked signature - “Designed in California, by Apple.” On every Apple product, this is written on the box and the actual product. But that leaves us with a question - why is Apple so insistent on telling us this? Apple has a certain aesthetic attached to the iPhone: it’s a clean, simple, effective, modern and modest design. They have kept true to this throughout every iteration of the iPhone, changing the design drastically every three releases. However, they diverted from this route in the early years. 

The release of the iPhone 4 marked a new design period - blocky, with circular buttons, no curved edges and an inset camera. It was the first phone that came in different colors, with accents and a metallic finish. They changed the very definition of an iPhone - and they’ve been doing that every three years since then. Apple has, somehow, managed to impress consumers enough that they care more about the design and aesthetic than actual features. Recent iOS updates have been relatively light on features - adding things that Android has had for years, removing useful features for “further development”, cluttering home screens and photo libraries with new layouts and an extremely buggy attempt at using Widgets on the home screen (something Android has also had for years). Apple has transcended the need to keep users engaged and coming back with actual technological development. The era of Steve Jobs releasing an innovative software/hardware achievement has ended and led to Tim “Apple” announcing a bezel reduction. 

The iPhone has changed the world. Everything about it was life changing to the point where people panic if they do not know or have their phones on them at all times. The iPhone has made many things that were once harder to come by, easy and accessible with the simple touch of a screen. Society has made sacrifices for the sake of our phones, giving up privacy and opening the door for potential mental health issues. We choose connectability and accessibility first, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. The potential for harm is present, but only if society allows it. The knowledge of how our phones can affect us is the best way to mitigate the potential for greater harm caused by smartphones.