By Sally Heathcote
It may feel like forever or perhaps only yesterday but this week it has been 15 years since Steve Jobs launched the first iPhone.
Whichever way you remember it, it’s undoubtedly true that since 29 June 2007, there has not been an area of our lives not impacted by a phone, operated not by a keyboard but by the then-revolutionary touch screen.
Now, like it or not, smartphones of which the iPhone is just one, are part of our everyday.
We use them to make calls, aid face-to-face communication with apps like FaceTime, text, email and conduct banking.
We watch movies, tv shows, read books and listen to music.
There have definitely been downsides and the addictive use of our phones is increasingly a modern problem. How often do we see people together, each with their face glued to their phone?
Long-term studies now show that excessive screen time can lead to severe depression, anxiety and loneliness. However, despite the adverse effects of smartphones on people’s lives, on the whole, they have positively impacted most aspects of human society across the globe.
One of the most interesting and unexpected changes the iPhone has brought is that it has put a camera in all our pockets. While professional photographers still prefer the technical benefits of a traditional camera, for the rest of us, we can all now be “happy snappers.” This has simultaneously given rise to social media platforms, which give us a place and an audience to share our happy snaps.
Before the iPhone and other smartphones, photography was a relatively expensive and somewhat wrought activity.
With a film of 24 exposures, photos had to be taken judiciously and when the developed role was collected from the chemist a few weeks later and turned out to be disappointing; with your little brother pulling a face or with your eyes were closed, there was nothing that could be done.
The moment had passed and there was no “try again.”
As we have accidentally become owners of increasingly better-quality cameras by acquiring the latest iPhones, life has changed.
There is no cost, almost no limit and for the majority just seeking a record of a moment, the quality is perfectly satisfactory.
How has this changed us?
Already there has been the “influencer” rise and fall, often photographing themselves posing in the mirror through the latest iPhone.
For the rest of us, does it mean that the photos that will survive into posterity will also make us all look better?
iPhones have given us the opportunity to immediately send embarrassing photos straight to the trash, never to see the light of day, leaving only the best image of ourselves. Or will no photos survive because they only live on in a cloud to which no one remembers the password?
What we take photos of has also changed. The iPhone has given us the ability to pull out our phones and instantly snap the moment – perhaps of a breathtaking sunrise.
Although is it actually stealing the moment from us?
At concerts and sporting events, the audience used to scream and sing along.
Now they hold their iPhones in the air to record the moment rather than engage.
Worst of all are the horrendously exploitative and illegal uses that the iPhone has facilitated.
But the big legacy of the iPhone?
Could it be that we now take photos of our food?
I can’t remember coming home from the chemist eagerly waiting to see how well my Kodak Gold had turned into 24 images of lamb chops.
So to the 1,000 Silicon Valley engineers that Steve Jobs employed to work on Project Purple in 2004 secretly, I thank you for enabling us to capture the moment of this beautiful sunrise at Lake Pamamaroo on Sunday morning.
Still, you could have kept my friend’s breakfast, wherever she was.