Today’s a big day for Apple, seeing as it’s the 10-year anniversary of the original iPhone’s unveiling.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that some of the company’s executives are having conversations about the power of the iPhone all of these years later. Over on Backchannel, Steven Levy has put together a pretty expansive interview, covering quite a bit of Apple’s history, and, of course, hinting at the future.
Interestingly, Schiller notes that third-party developer support was shot down by Steve Jobs ahead of the original iPhone’s launch, due to time constraints, but that it was obviously a conversation right out of the gate:
“Steve Jobs shut down the discussion, Schiller recalls. “He said ‘We don’t have to keep debating this because we can’t have [an open system] right now. Maybe we’ll change our mind afterwards, or maybe we won’t, but for now there isn’t one so let’s envision this world where we solve the problem with great built-in apps and a way for developers to make web apps.”
Schiller does take some time to talk about expectations, fielding a question about whether or not Apple is playing it safe these days. Levy notes that some critics believe Apple’s changes to its iPhone lineup are more incremental than anything else, which has left many waiting for those “revolutionary” new features to arrive.
“I actually think the leaps in the later versions are as big and sometimes even bigger now,” he says. “I think our expectations are changing more, not the leaps in the products. If you look through every version—from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G to the 4 to the 4S, you see great changes all throughout. You see screen size change from three and a half inch to four inch to four point seven and five point five. You see cameras going through incredible change, from the first camera that couldn’t shoot video, to then having both a front and a backside camera, to now three cameras with the stuff we’re doing, and with live photos and 4K video.”
Near the end of the interview, Levy notes that Amazon’s Echo device, with Alexa installed, is growing in mindshare, and wonders if Apple sees a reason to launch an in-home device similar to Amazon’s, and Google’s, efforts. Rumors have indeed suggested Apple is working on a device like this, but, for Schiller’s part, he plays down the role of an Echo-like device, noting that the iPhone, for him, is still the best place for a digital personal assistant:
“That’s really important,” Schiller says, “and I’m so glad the team years ago set out to create Siri — I think we do more with that conversational interface that anyone else. Personally, I still think the best intelligent assistant is the one that’s with you all the time. Having my iPhone with me as the thing I speak to is better than something stuck in my kitchen or on a wall somewhere.”
The full interview is certainly interesting, as Levy and Schiller touch on a variety of different topics, including what the future might look like in regards to voice-only interfaces versus displays.