How the iPhone Works

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How the iPhone Works

by Tracy V. Wilson and Wesley Fenlon

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iPhone Image Gallery
The white iPhone 4 launched in spring 2011.

Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images

Introduction to How the iPhone Works

In January 2007, Steve Jobs introduced the Apple iPhone during his keynote address at the Macworld Conference and Expo. In its first appearance onscreen and in Jobs's hand, the phone looked like a sleek but inanimate black rectangle.

Then, Jobs touched the screen. Suddenly, the featureless rectangle became an interactive surface. Jobs placed a fingertip on an on-screen arrow and slid it from left to right. When his finger moved, the arrow moved with it, unlocking the phone. To some people, this interaction between a human finger and an on-screen image -- and its effect on the iPhone's behavior -- was more amazing than all of its other features combined.

And those features are plentiful. In some ways, the iPhone is more like a palmtop computer than a cellular phone. As with many smartphones, you can use it to make and receive calls, watch movies, listen to music, browse the Web, and send and receive e-mail and text messages. You can also take pictures and video (using an iPhone 3GS or later model) with a built-in camera, import photos from your computer and organize them all using the iPhone's software.

In 2008, Apple introduced the second generation iPhone. This iPhone can operate on third-generation (3G) cellular networks and has a GPS receiver. It also lets you view map and satellite data from Google Maps, including overlays of nearby businesses. Owners of the original iPhone got the opportunity to upgrade the software on their phones. The 2.0 software gives the old phones new functions, but without the GPS receiver or 3G network capability.

2009 was the year that Apple launched the iPhone 3GS. The 3GS iPhone models have more storage capacity than earlier iPhones. They also have a better camera that's capable of taking still shots and video at 30 frames per second. Another added feature is a compass, which comes in handy when you need to find your way through unfamiliar territory. Also in 2009 came iPhone OS 3.0, which offered many improvements, such as the ability to cut and paste.

In 2010, Steve Jobs took the stage to announce a new generation of Apple's runaway success: the iPhone 4. The new device sports two cameras -- one on the front and one on the back. The iPhone 4 has a retina display with a better resolution than earlier phones. It also marked a departure from the basic iPhone design -- the phone doesn't have a slightly curved back so it lays flat on surfaces. Jobs also announced a new name for the iPhone operating system: iOS.

A modified version of the Macintosh OS X operating system used on Apple desktop and laptop computers lets you interact with all of these applications. It displays icons for each application on the iPhone's screen. It also manages battery power and system security. The operating system synchs the phone with your computer, a process that requires a dock much like the one used to synch an iPod. It also lets you multitask and move through multiple open applications, just like you can on a laptop or desktop computer.

But instead of using a mouse or a physical keyboard, the iPhone uses virtual buttons and controls that appear on its screen. This isn't really a new phenomenon -- touch screens have been part of everything from self-checkout kiosks to smartphones for years. But the iPhone's touch screen is a little different from many of the others currently on the market. When you touch the screen on a PDA or a Nintendo DS, you typically use a slender, pointed stylus. The iPhone, on the other hand, requires you to use your fingers. It can also detect multiple touch points simultaneously, which many existing touch screens cannot do.

This article will explore exactly how the iPhone's touch screen carries instructions from your fingertips to the phone's internal circuitry. We'll also look at the features in Apple's latest and greatest, the iPhone 4S, and the 2011 update to its operating system: iOS 5.

The conductive layers in the iPhone's touch screen enable users to give the device commands with a simple swipe of the finger.

©2007 HowStuffWorks

iPhone Touch Screen

Electronic devices can use lots of different methods to detect a person's input on a touch screen. Most of them use sensors and circuitry to monitor changes in a particular state. Many, including the iPhone, monitor changes in electrical current. Others monitor changes in the reflection of waves. These can be sound waves or beams of near-infrared light. A few systems use transducers to measure changes in vibration caused when your finger hits the screen's surface or cameras to monitor changes in light and shadow.

The basic idea is pretty simple -- when you place your finger or a stylus on the screen, it changes the state that the device is monitoring. In screens that rely on sound or light waves, your finger physically blocks or reflects some of the waves. Capacitive touch screens use a layer of capacitive material to hold an electrical charge; touching the screen changes the amount of charge at a specific point of contact. In resistive screens, the pressure from your finger causes conductive and resistive layers of circuitry to touch each other, changing the circuits' resistance.

Most of the time, these systems are good at detecting the location of exactly one touch. If you try to touch the screen in several places at once, the results can be erratic. Some screens simply disregard all touches after the first one. Others can detect simultaneous touches, but their software can't calculate the location of each one accurately. There are several reasons for this, including the following:

  • Many systems detect changes along an axis or in a specific direction instead of at each point on the screen.

  • Some screens rely on system-wide averages to determine touch locations.

  • Some systems take measurements by first establishing a baseline. When you touch the screen, you create a new baseline. Adding another touch causes the system to take a measurement using the wrong baseline as a starting point.

The Apple iPhone is different -- many of the elements of its multi-touch user interface require you to touch multiple points on the screen simultaneously. For example, you can zoom in to Web pages or pictures by placing your thumb and finger on the screen and spreading them apart. To zoom back out, you can pinch your thumb and finger together. The iPhone's touch screen is able to respond to both touch points and their movements simultaneously. We'll look at exactly how the iPhone does this in the next section.

The many component layers in a mutual capacitance screen.

©2007 HowStuffWorks

Multi-touch Systems

To allow people to use touch commands that require multiple fingers, the iPhone uses a new arrangement of existing technology. Its touch-sensitive screen includes a layer of capacitive material, just like many other touch screens. However, the iPhone's capacitors are arranged according to a coordinate system. Its circuitry can sense changes at each point along the grid. In other words, every point on the grid generates its own signal when touched and relays that signal to the iPhone's processor. This allows the phone to determine the location and movement of simultaneous touches in multiple locations. Because of its reliance on this capacitive material, the iPhone works only if you touch it with your fingertip -- it won't work if you use a stylus or wear non-conductive gloves.

Unlike the mutual capacitance circuitry, a self capacitance screen contains a transparent electrode layer.

©2007 HowStuffWorks

The iPhone's screen detects touch through one of two methods: Mutual capacitance or self capacitance. In mutual capacitance, the capacitive circuitry requires two distinct layers of material. One houses driving lines, which carry current, and the other houses sensing lines, which detect the current at nodes. Self capacitance uses one layer of individual electrodes connected with capacitance-sensing circuitry.

Both of these possible setups send touch data as electrical impulses. In the next section, we'll take a look at exactly what happens.

The iPhone's touch screen registers your touch and converts that raw data into precise coordinates.

©2007 HowStuffWorks

iPhone Processor

The iPhone's processor and software are central to correctly interpreting input from the touch screen. The capacitive material sends raw touch-location data to the iPhone's processor. The processor uses software located in the iPhone's memory to interpret the raw data as commands and gestures. Here's what happens:

In the nanosecond between the time you touch the iPhone's screen and the display reacts, several calculations and signals are sent from the touch screen to the software.

©2007 HowStuffWorks

  1. Signals travel from the touch screen to the processor as electrical impulses.

  2. The processor uses software to analyze the data and determine the features of each touch. This includes size, shape and location of the affected area on the screen. If necessary, the processor arranges touches with similar features into groups. If you move your finger, the processor calculates the difference between the starting point and ending point of your touch.

  3. The processor uses its gesture-interpretation software to determine which gesture you made. It combines your physical movement with information about which application you were using and what the application was doing when you touched the screen.

  4. The processor relays your instructions to the program in use. If necessary, it also sends commands to the iPhone's screen and other hardware. If the raw data doesn't match any applicable gestures or commands, the iPhone disregards it as an extraneous touch.

All these steps happen in a nanosecond -- you see changes in the screen based on your input almost instantly. This process allows you to access and use all of the iPhone's applications with your fingers. We'll look at these programs and the iPhone's other features, as well as how the iPhone's cost measures up to its abilities, in more detail in the next section.

iPhone Features

The front surface of the Apple iPhone has only one button -- the Home button. Pressing the Home button takes you to the main screen of the iPhone's graphical user interface. There, you can choose from the device's four primary functions using icons at the bottom of the phone:

  • Phone: 3G, GSM or EDGE cellular phone service as well as a visual voice mail menu

  • Mail: POP and IMAP e-mail access, including in-line pictures, HTML capabilities and push e-mail

  • Web: Safari Web browser

  • iPod: Music and videos

You can open the iPhone's other applications from the upper portion of the Home screen. These include a calendar, calculator, notepad, and widgets, or mini-applications made specifically for the iPhone. Older iPhones include a 2.0- or 3.2-megapixel camera and software you can use to organize your pictures -- the iPhone 4 ups the stakes with a 5-megapixel camera. You can also use an iPhone to check weather reports and stock quotes. Even though the iPhone doesn't support Flash, which the YouTube site relies on, you can watch YouTube videos using the corresponding application. The keys and buttons you need to navigate each application appear only when you need them.

The shape of the screen changes when you need it to as well -- you can shift the perspective from vertical to horizontal by tilting the phone. An accelerometer inside the iPhone lets the operating system know to change the orientation of the image on the screen. This means that you can scroll through long lists of music files on a long, narrow screen, and you can watch movies in a widescreen format. You can learn more about accelerometers in How the Wii Works.

The second generation of the iPhone introduced several new features. We'll take a closer look at those in the next section.

Customers in Hong Kong wait in line to buy the 3G iPhone.

Andrew Ross/AFP/Getty Images

3G iPhone Applications and Problems

In June 2008, Steve Jobs unveiled the 3G iPhone at a conference for application developers. Apple offered 8 and 16 GB options of the 3G edition of the iPhone. The phone's appearance only changed a little bit -- this model had a slightly sleeker design and its back isn't silver. Customers who bought the 16 GB model could choose between an iPhone with a black or white plastic back. The 8 GB model was only available in black.

Perhaps the biggest announcement -- apart from the fact that the phone could take advantage of 3G network technology -- was that the 3G iPhone had a GPS receiver. One of the challenges of GPS devices is that they tend to drain batteries pretty quickly. That's because the device is constantly receiving signals from satellites orbiting the Earth.

Another important addition to the iPhone was support for Microsoft Exchange. Microsoft Exchange support means users can now synchronize their iPhones with their Microsoft Outlook accounts. By adding this feature, the iPhone became more competitive with other enterprise smartphones -- the phones businesses use to keep executives and employees connected when out of the office.

When it released the original iPhone, Apple didn't support third-party applications, though that didn't stop developers from writing them. But with the original iPhone, in order to even run a non-Apple application, an iPhone owner had to first jailbreak his or her phone. Jailbreaking just means the owner could load and run third party applications. But it came with a risk -- if you tried to install official updates from Apple with a jailbroken phone, Apple could tell that some hanky panky was going on. But the 3G iPhone acts as an application platform, and Apple encourages developers to create content for it.

The transfer to the 3G iPhone didn't go without a hitch. Instead of allowing customers to purchase phones and activate them at home, Apple wanted them to activate the phones inside the store. Unfortunately, Apple's systems suffered an overload, causing massive delays during the product launch. Most customers ended up having to activate at home anyway.

Some of the new applications that became available when Apple opened up development for the iPhone take advantage of the device's accelerometer feature. Games like "Super MonkeyBall" let the player control the game character by tilting the phone in different ways. Could the iPhone become the next portable gaming platform? That's precisely what Apple claimed at its Sept. 9, 2009 press event. That brings us up to the iPhone 3GS.

App Controversy

To get an application into the iTunes App store, Apple must approve it first. Apple retains the right to deny any application that duplicates or damages the features of the iPhone. This has led to controversy -- in 2009, the FCC stepped in to investigate claims that Apple rejected Google Voice applications unfairly.

iPhone 3GS

Apple unveiled the iPhone 3GS at the 2009 World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC). The S stands for "speed." According to Apple, the iPhone 3GS is up to twice as fast as the previous iPhone 3G model. That applies both to accessing the data network and launching applications. In real-world tests, journalists found that the iPhone 3GS often was more effective at picking up 3G signals from the cell phone carrier than its predecessor.

But the iPhone 3GS isn't just faster than previous models. It also boasts some new features. Here's a rundown of what you'll find on the iPhone 3GS:

  • More storage space: There are two versions of the iPhone 3GS: 16 GB and 32 GB models. This doubles the capacity of older iPhone models. Both models are available in white or black.

  • Video camera: Not only does the iPhone 3GS's camera capture larger photos (3.2 megapixels versus the iPhone 3G's 2.0 megapixel camera), it can record video at 30 frames per second, too. The camera can focus automatically or you can use the touch screen to tell the camera where to focus the image. It also adjusts the image's white balance automatically.

  • Voice control: While many other phones on the market have voice dialing features, the iPhone 3GS's voice control extends the functionality to other parts of the phone. Not only can you make calls by speaking into your phone, you can also control music playback and other functions.

  • Compass: When paired with the accelerometer and GPS receiver, the iPhone 3GS's compass helps keep iPhone owners from getting lost. It also allows app developers the opportunity to develop augmented reality applications.

  • Oleophobic screen: One problem with touch screens is that they tend to attract smudges. The iPhone 3GS has an oleophobic screen. An oleophobic material repels oils, keeping the screen relatively smudge-free.

  • Tethering: If your cell phone carrier allows it, you can use the iPhone 3GS as a modem for your computer. Simply hook the iPhone 3GS to the computer using an Apple USB cord and you can surf the Web at 3G speeds. Some carriers don't allow tethering, including AT&T in the United States.

These features sound impressive, but many of them already exist on other smartphones.

On the next page, we'll take a closer look at the iPhone 4.

The Lost iPhone 4

Controversy erupted around the iPhone 4 when an Apple employee accidentally left an early model of the phone in a bar. That phone made its way into the hands of gadget blog Gizmodo, and Apple eventually took legal action to get its phone back. The same thing reportedly happened a year later with the iPhone 4's successor, the iPhone 4S [source: CNET]. Because the 4S looks nearly identical to the iPhone 4, it's possible the lost phone was mistaken for a year-old handset.

iPhone 4

When Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone 4 in 2010, he confirmed a lot of rumors that had been swirling around for more than a month. The technology news blog Gizmodo made headlines of its own when it ran a story about a prototype version of the iPhone 4 ahead of the official announcement. The phone belonged to an Apple employee who appeared to leave it behind at a bar by accident. Gizmodo revealed many of the phone's features, though Apple had remotely locked most of its functionality.

Jobs slyly acknowledged the fact that his audience knew more about the phone than they should, but he still had some surprises up his sleeve. The new iPhone's design was a departure from previous models. Instead of the slightly curved back, the iPhone 4 has flat surfaces. It also has two cameras. The rear-facing camera takes 5-megapixel pictures and can capture 720p video. It also has an LED flash for low-light photography [source: Apple]. The front-facing camera plays a part in Apple's Facetime app, which lets you make video calls to other iPhone 4, compatible iPod touch and Mac OS X users.

The phone's front and back are both covered in glass. Metal bands around the edge of the phone act as antennae. Another big departure from previous iPhone models are the buttons: The iPhone 4 has four buttons or switches around the edge of the phone. One is the on/off switch, the second controls volume and the third lets you switch your phone from ringing to silent. The fourth button is the Home button.

The iPhone 4 has what Apple calls a retina display. Its resolution is 960 by 640 pixels, or 326 pixels per inch. It has an 800-to-one contrast ratio.

Other iPhone 4 features include:

  • multitasking

  • HD video recording and editing

  • camera autofocus

  • three-axis gyroscope

  • dual-mic noise suppression

A year after the release of the iPhone 4, Apple used its annual WWDC event to announce something new -- but it wasn't a new phone. It was the next iteration of its mobile operating system, iOS, with some major improvements in tow.

iOS 5

Apple announced version 5.0 of its mobile operating system in June 2011, several months before it unveiled the new phone iOS5 would launch alongside. The operating system software went through several months of beta use before becoming available for iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. The iOS 5 updater is one of the biggest updates to the iPhone experience Apple has ever made. The standout new feature is Siri, the personal assistant built into iOS 5. Siri is only available on the iPhone 4S; the iOS 5 operating system itself can be downloaded onto the iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS, but Siri doesn't run on those phones.

Siri uses natural language processing to interpret spoken commands. When you talk to Siri, your voice is uploaded to a server, processed, and sent back to the phone where action is taken. This only takes a couple seconds, and Siri can perform tasks like sending text messages, setting alarms, appointments and reminders, searching for restaurants, or making voice calls. By filling out contact information, Siri can understand commands like "Call my wife" or "Remind me to take my keys when I leave the office."

iPhone 4 and 3GS users still have new features to look forward to as well. Apple revamped its notification system to be more like the convenient sliding tray found on Android. Notifications no longer pop up in the middle of the screen, interrupting an app -- they're accessible in a tray that slides down from the top of the screen with a quick swipe. Additional new features:

  • Apple's iMessage service integrates various communication sources like text messages and iChat. If you're sending a SMS to another iPhone owner, iOS5 defaults to iMessage, saving you a text.

  • New iPhones can be activated without connecting to a computer, and data can be synced from iTunes over WiFi.

  • The iCloud service syncs up to 5GB of apps, photos, and documents across multiple Apple devices for free.

  • Twitter is built into the OS.

  • The camera can be accessed from the lock screen.

  • Light photo editing like red eye removal and cropping can be done from the Photos app.

  • Apple's AirPlay video streaming works wirelessly. Video can be wirelessly mirrored from an iPad 2 or iPhone 4S to an Apple TV.

  • Apple added new multi-touch gestures for multitasking.

The iPhone 4S looks almost identical to its predecessor, but it contains more processing power.

Image courtesy of Apple, Inc.

iPhone 4S

Steve Jobs passed away on October 5, 2011. The day before, on October 4, his chosen successor, Tim Cook, hosted the annual fall Apple event to unveil the iPhone 4S. This marked the first time Jobs didn't introduce the new iPhone, but his influence lives on in the device itself. Up until the moment the event started, there was speculation that Apple would name its new phone the iPhone 5 and that it planned to release a modified iPhone 4 as a cheap alternative called the iPhone 4S. That didn't happen. Like the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4S keeps the same body design as its predecessor, while substantially updating its internal hardware.

The iPhone 4S introduced three major new features: faster processing with a dual-core CPU and GPU; better photography with an 8 megapixel camera; and deep voice control integration through Siri, the voice assistant software we talked about in the iOS 5 section. While iOS 5 is available as a free download for iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 users, Siri is only accessible on the iPhone 4S.

Apple equipped the iPhone 4S with the same 1GHz A5 system-on-a-chip that's inside the iPad 2. The A5 chip contains dual-core CPU and GPU processing, making it dramatically faster than the A4 chip inside the iPhone 4. For processor-intensive purposes like Javascript and graphics-intensive games, the iPhone 4S outperforms all the Android devices on the market as of fall 2011. For example, in the GLBenchmark 2.1 software, the iPhone 4S could push 122 frames per second; the Samsung Galaxy S II managed 67, while the iPhone 4 managed only 15 [source: Anandtech].

The iPhone camera received a similarly big upgrade from 5 megapixels to 8 megapixels. But the image resolution isn't what makes the iPhone 4S camera so much better -- it's the new, larger sensor, which captures 73 percent more light than the one on the iPhone 4, that Apple picked. Light sensitivity makes an enormous difference when shooting in low-light situations. Additionally, Apple employed a five-element lens system over the iPhone 4's four-element system to increase image sharpness, and improved the aperture from f/2.8 to f/2.4 to capture more light [source: Tested]. The camera can shoot 1080p video, up from the iPhone 4's 720p video shooting capabilities.

The iPhone 4S marks another significant milestone for Apple's smartphone business: The device launched simultaneously on AT&T, Sprint and Verizon in October 2011. It's the first iPhone that works on both GSM and CDMA networks, the two cellular technologies used worldwide. Dual-radio phones like the iPhone 4S are often called "worldphones." But there's a catch we'll get into on the next page: Only an unlocked iPhone 4S, sold for $650 through Apple, can use SIM cards in foreign countries.

The 2011 iPhone Carrier Spread

Apple launched its first CDMA iPhone in early 2011, when it made the iPhone 4 available on Verizon's cellular network. With the iPhone 4S, the company released one model using a dual-mode chipset to work on Sprint and Verizon's CDMA networks and AT&T's GSM network. That means the phone can roam in other countries on either kind of network. Ideally, it would also mean foreign SIMs could be loaded into the phone to pay local rates while traveling abroad in GSM countries. But that's not how it works: The iPhone 4S comes locked to a specific network. To use it abroad, there are two choices: Buy an unlocked model directly from Apple, or pay a cellular carrier for a global roaming plan.

Like previous iPhone models, the 16-gigabyte 4S is available on a two-year contract for $200. It costs the same amount on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. As of fall 2011, 32GB model costs $299 and a 64GB model costs $399. Unlocked iPhone pricing starts at $650.

As it does every year, Apple knocked the price of the previous iPhone model down to $100 (on a two-year contract) with the launch of its new device. The iPhone 4 is now available on Sprint as well. The iPhone 3GS is still available, but only on AT&T; the 8GB model is free on a two-year contract.

No single carrier offers a clear-cut best option. Sprint offers an unlimited data plan, while Verizon and AT&T are both larger networks that may provide better cellular coverage, depending on your region. Sprint and Verizon's CDMA technology cannot use voice and data simultaneously, and the iPhone 4 supports faster HSPA+ data on AT&T's GSM network. However, in real-world use, data speeds vary by network usage and location -- Verizon or Sprint could potentially be faster than AT&T based on those factors.

Apple iPhone vs. Cisco iPhone

When Apple announced the iPhone in January 2007, it quickly got the attention of computer technology company Cisco. Cisco was already using the iPhone name on a range of VoIP products and services. Cisco filed a lawsuit, but the two companies eventually reached an agreement with undisclosed terms in February 2007. The agreement allows both companies to use the iPhone name.

iPhone Competitors and the Evolving Smartphone Market

The iPhone has gotten a lot of attention in the press, but other phone models already have similar features. Several phones now run on Android, the mobile operating system designed by Google. The Palm Pre was the first phone to use Palm's new OS called WebOS. The Pre didn't save Palm from financial problems, however, and Hewlett-Packard swept in to acquire the company in 2010. HP may one day release future handsets running on WebOS, or the company may focus exclusively on tablet devices instead. Only time will tell.

Numerous smartphones have a built-in Opera Web browser designed for mobile devices. Although most other phones don't have completely virtual controls, some, like the Helio Ocean, have multiple physical keyboards. You can slide the front portion of the Ocean vertically to access a number pad, or horizontally to access a QWERTY keyboard. The orientation of the images on the screen changes depending on which keyboard you're using. Other phones, like the Samsung Instinct, the LG Prada and the HTC Touch phone, use touch screens and virtual controls much the way the iPhone does.

In some cases, Apple's iPhone received more attention for what it couldn't do than its wide range of features. Until June 2009, the iPhone was incapable of using cut and paste. And then, on Sept. 25, 2009, Apple rolled out multimedia message (MMS) support to its users. You can find both of these features on other phones -- MMS is common even on regular cell phones. Why did it take so long for Apple to support these basic features? There's no clear answer, though one theory is that, because iPhone owners use their data plans more than the average smartphone user, they make a significant impact on their carrier's network. As the iPhone gets more features, it puts a heavier strain on the network. It's possible that Apple is working with its carriers to avoid overloading networks with increased traffic.

At its introduction, the iPhone's price was $499 for 4 GB of storage space and $599 for 8 GB. In September 2007, Apple announced that it was lowering the price of the 8 GB model to $399 and that it would continue to sell the 4 GB model while supplies lasted. The 3G iPhone came with another drop in price: The 8 GB 3G iPhone became available for $199. Apple was able to discount the phone because service providers like AT&T subsidized the hardware.

The first iPhone hit the U.S. market on June 29, 2007. In the days after the release, users and reviewers criticized some of the iPhone's features, including slow browsing speeds and difficulty using the virtual keyboard. Customers reported difficulties with the lengthy activation process and itemized paper billing statements that were hundreds of pages long. Consumer-rights advocates criticized the cost of the iPhone's battery replacement program. Early iPhone adopters were also angry at the dramatic price drop -- Apple responded by offering a $100 store credit [source: Apple]. In spite of all these difficulties, Apple sold its millionth iPhone in September 2007.

The iPhone changed the face of the phone market as we know it. While "smartphones" existed before the iPhone, Apple's focus on touch controls pushed the industry in a new direction. The once-common Windows Phone 6.x line was phased out in favor of an entirely new operating system with Windows Phone 7. RIM's BlackBerry line has been in decline for years. Google Android has given Apple its most serious competition with an open source OS embraced by a range of electronics companies.

The iPhone 4S set records as Apple's fastest-selling phone yet -- the company moved more than 4 million units in the device's first weekend on the market [source: CNET]. As of 2011, however, Google's Android actually rules the smartphone market in the United States. With a spread of popular devices from Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG and others, Android controls 39 percent of the market, compared to Apple's 28 percent [source: Nielsen]. However, that 39 percent is spread out over many devices and manufacturers. Apple reaps all the rewards from iPhone sales.

To learn more about the iPhone, iPods, cellular phones and related topics, check out the links on the next page.

Lots More Information

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More Great Links

  • Apple: iPhone

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