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iPhone

iPhone

T

he iPhone (EYE-fohn) is a line of smartphones designed and marketed by Apple Inc. The first iPhone was unveiled by Steve Jobs, then CEO of Apple, on January 9, 2007, and released on June 29, 2007. The 5th generation iPhone, the iPhone 4S, was announced on October 4, 2011, and released 10 days later.

History and availability

Development of the iPhone began in 2005 with Apple CEO Steve Jobs' direction that Apple engineers investigate touchscreens. He also steered the original focus away from a tablet, like the iPad, and towards a phone. Apple created the device during a secretive collaboration with AT&T Mobility—Cingular Wireless at the time—at an estimated development cost of US$150 million over thirty months. Apple rejected the "design by committee" approach that had yielded the Motorola ROKR E1, a largely unsuccessful collaboration with Motorola. Instead, Cingular gave Apple the liberty to develop the iPhone's hardware and software in-house and even paid Apple a fraction of its monthly service revenue (until the iPhone 3G), in exchange for four years of exclusive U.S. sales, until 2011

Jobs unveiled the iPhone to the public on January 9, 2007, at the Macworld 2007 convention at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The iPhone went on sale in the United States on June 29, 2007, at 6:00 pm local time, while hundreds of customers lined up outside the stores nationwide. The passionate reaction to the launch of the iPhone resulted in sections of the media christening it the 'Jesus phone'. The original iPhone was made available in the UK, France, and Germany in November 2007, and Ireland and Austria in the spring of 2008.

In an attempt to gain a wider market, Apple retained the 8 GB iPhone 3G at a lower price. When Apple introduced the iPhone 4, the 3GS became the less expensive model. Apple reduced the price several times since the iPhone's release in 2007, at which time an 8 GB iPhone sold for $599. An iPhone 3GS with the same capacity now has no cost to the customer, as of the release of the iPhone 4S. However, these numbers are misleading, since all iPhone units sold through AT&T require a two-year contract costing several thousand dollars, including an early termination fee, and a SIM lock.

The back of the original iPhone was made of aluminum with a black plastic accent. The iPhone 3G and 3GS feature a full plastic back to increase the strength of the GSM signal. The iPhone 3G was available in an 8 GB black model, or a black or white option for the 16 GB model. They both are now discontinued. The iPhone 3GS was available in both colors, regardless of storage capacity.

The white model was discontinued in favor of a black 8 GB low-end model. The iPhone 4 has an aluminosilicate glass front and back with a stainless steel edge that serves as the antennas. It was at first available in black; the white version was announced, but not released until April 2011, 10 months later.

On January 11, 2011, Verizon announced during a media event that it had reached an agreement with Apple and would begin selling a CDMA2000 iPhone 4. Verizon said it would be available for pre-order on February 3, with a release set for February 10. In February 2011, the Verizon iPhone accounted for 4.5 percent of all iPhone ad impressions in the U.S. on Millennial Media's mobile ad network. On March 2, 2011, at the iPad 2 event, Apple announced that they have sold 100 million iPhones worldwide.

On Tuesday, September 27, Apple sent invitations for a press event to be held October 4, 2011 at 10:00 am at the Cupertino Headquarters to announce details of the next generation iPhone, which turned out to be iPhone 4S. Over 1 million 4S models were sold in the first 24 hours after its release in October 2011. Due to large volumes of the iPhone being manufactured and the its high selling price, Apple became the largest mobile handset vendor in the world by revenue, in 2011, surpassing long-time leader Nokia; however, later that year, it was surpassed by Samsung, a major manufacturer of Android phones. American carrier C Spire Wireless announced that it would be carrying the iPhone 4S on October 19, 2011. In February 2012, ComScore reported that 12.4% of US mobile subscribers use an iPhone. The iPhone 4S launch was also the biggest launch for any smartphone in the history of mobile device market.

Screen and input

The touchscreen on all models is a 9 cm (3.5 in) liquid crystal display with scratch-resistant glass. The capacitive touchscreen is designed for a bare finger, or multiple fingers for multi-touch sensing. The screens on the first three generations have a resolution of 320 × 480 (HVGA) at 163 ppi, while those on the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S have a resolution of 640 × 960 at 326 ppi.

The iPhone has a minimal hardware user interface, featuring only four or five buttons, depending on the generation. The only physical menu button is situated directly below the display, and is called the "Home button" because it closes the active app and navigates to the home screen of the interface. The home button is denoted not by a house, as on many other similar devices, but a rounded square, reminiscent of the shape of icons on the home screen.

A multifunction sleep/wake button is located on the top of the device. It serves as the unit's power button, and also controls phone calls. When a call is received, pressing the sleep/wake button once silences the ringtone, and when pressed twice transfers the call to voicemail. Situated on the left spine are the volume adjustment controls. The iPhone 4 has two separate circular buttons to increase and decrease the volume; all earlier models house two switches under a single plastic panel, known as a rocker switch, which could reasonably be counted as either one or two buttons.

The display responds to three sensors (four on the iPhone 4). A proximity sensor deactivates the display and touchscreen when the device is brought near the face during a call. This is done to save battery power and to prevent inadvertent inputs from the user's face and ears. An ambient light sensor adjusts the display brightness which in turn saves battery power. A 3-axis accelerometer senses the orientation of the phone and changes the screen accordingly, allowing the user to easily switch between portrait and landscape mode. Photo browsing, web browsing, and music playing support both upright and left or right widescreen orientations.

Directly above the volume controls is a ring/silent switch that when engaged mutes telephone ringing, alert sounds from new & sent emails, text messages, and other push notifications, camera shutter sounds, Voice Memo sound effects, phone lock/unlock sounds, keyboard clicks, and spoken autocorrections. This switch does not mute alarm sounds from the Clock application, and in some countries or regions it will not mute the camera shutter or Voice Memo sound effects. All buttons except Home were made of plastic on the original iPhone and metal on all later models. The touchscreen furnishes the remainder of the user interface.

Third-party applications

At WWDC 2007 on June 11, 2007, Apple announced that the iPhone would support third-party "web applications" written in Ajax that share the look and feel of the iPhone interface. On October 17, 2007, Steve Jobs, in an open letter posted to Apple's "Hot News" weblog, announced that a software development kit (SDK) would be made available to third-party developers in February 2008. The iPhone SDK was officially announced and released on March 6, 2008, at the Apple Town Hall facility.

It is a free download, with an Apple registration, that allows developers to develop native applications for the iPhone and iPod Touch, then test them in an "iPhone simulator". However, loading an application onto a real device is only possible after paying an Apple Developer Connection membership fee. Developers are free to set any price for their applications to be distributed through the App Store, of which they will receive a 70% share.

Developers can also opt to release the application for free and will not pay any costs to release or distribute the application beyond the membership fee. The App Store was launched with the release of iOS 2.0, on July 11, 2008. The update was free for iPhone users; owners of older iPod Touches were required to pay US$10 for it.

Once a developer has submitted an application to the App Store, Apple holds firm control over its distribution. Apple can halt the distribution of applications it deems inappropriate, for example, I Am Rich, a US$1000 program that simply demonstrated the wealth of its user. Apple has been criticized for banning third-party applications that enable a functionality that Apple does not want the iPhone to have: In 2008, Apple rejected Podcaster, which allowed iPhone users to download podcasts directly to the iPhone claiming it duplicated the functionality of iTunes. Apple has since released a software update that grants this capability.

Before the SDK was released, third-parties were permitted to design "Web Apps" that would run through Safari. Unsigned native applications are also available for "jailbroken" phones. The ability to install native applications onto the iPhone outside of the App Store is not supported by Apple, the stated reason being that such native applications could be broken by any software update, but Apple has stated it will not design software updates specifically to break native applications other than those that perform SIM unlocking.

Accessibility

The iPhone can enlarge text to make it more accessible for vision-impaired users, and can accommodate hearing-impaired users with closed captioning and external TTY devices. The iPhone 3GS also features white on black mode, VoiceOver (a screen reader), and zooming for impaired vision, and mono audio for limited hearing in one ear. Apple regularly publishes Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates which explicitly state compliance with the US regulation "Section 508".

Vulnerability

In 2007, 2010, and 2011, developers released a series of tools called JailbreakMe that used security vulnerabilities in Mobile Safari rendering in order to jailbreak the device (which allows users to install any compatible software on the device instead of only App Store apps). These exploits were each soon fixed by iOS updates from Apple. Theoretically these flaws could have also been used for malicious purposes.