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iPhone, Galaxy S, Pixel: How did smartphones evolve to dominate your life

  Remember the first Google Android phone: HTC T Mobile G1

My how things have changed. The original G1 versus a modern smartphone.

Sarah Teu / CNET

This story is part of the 2010s: A Decade in Review series on memes, people, products, movies and more that influenced the 2010s.

Steve Jobs' stepping stone for the original iPhone in 2007 as a phone, music player and internet communicator was a landmark moment in the technology world. It crystallized the almost mythical reputation of the iPhone from the beginning – remember the nickname, the phone of Jesus? – and helped bring the idea that smartphones could be chic. But looking back, these three options barely scratched the surface of what we can do with a modern smartphone.

What can you do with one now? Everything .

"We never imagined how a decade later the iPhone would become such an essential part of our lives, from streaming TV shows and playing games, to finding travel directions, to managing health and fitness, to opening smart home garages to share beautiful memories with stunning photos and videos, "says Phil Schiller, Apple's marketing manager, in an email.

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As CNET examines the impact of various technologies over the last decade, none has changed our lives as dramatically as smartphones. When the original iPhone launched and in 1945, the first Android phone G1 followed in 2008, they were still things for enthusiasts of gadgets with multiple disposable income. Just 10 years ago, with the launch of the Motorola Droid – the first Android phone to enjoy mass appeal, thanks to a massive marketing blitz by Verizon Wireless – we were just starting out with the potential that comes with smartphones and mobile apps.

Nowadays we take for granted that we have a virtual supercomputer in our pockets. Our iPhones and Android phones allow us to catch a car right to our location, pick up from a library of hundreds of thousands of TV shows and movies stored online, or real-time our silly fabrications to millions around the world. You can download animations from your friends at Fortnite. They are literally revolutionary, with secure messaging applications playing a role in the Arab Spring movement in early 2010, and Hong Kong protests against China playing today.

Think about it: what's one thing you can't leave home without? Chances are, this is your smartphone. It has become such an important part of our lives that we begin to wonder if we spend too much time on them. Tech giants like Apple and Google have even introduced ways to tell you how much time you spend on your phone – with apps found on your phone.

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"It's amazing how quickly we are surprised to have a supercomputer always connected. we have a supercomputer in our pockets in our pockets, "said Avi Gringart, an analyst at research firm Techsponential.

No matter where you are in the spectrum of smartphone addiction, there is no doubt the amazing impact they have had on society, culture and how we live our lives.

"A lot has changed since 1.0," Stephanie Cuthbertson, Android director, said during her keynote speech at Google I / O in May. "Smartphones have evolved from an early vision to this integral tool in our lives, and they are incredibly useful."

Uncomfortable to wish

Smartphones existed for years before iPhones and phones became the default mobile devices, the Crowd of Whites collars happily touched the physical keys of their BlackBerrys. Old-school gadget lovers would be proud to show up with Palm Treos or their "Pocket PC" phones (with a bare version of Windows stuck behind a smaller screen). It doesn't matter that these devices require a precise stylus.

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With the original iPhone, Steve Jobs and Apple changed their way of interacting with the world.

Get the picture

In 2007, Jobs and the iPhone changed the meaning of a smartphone, making the touch screen device intuitive and fun – to use, thanks in large part to the full browser experience and tricks as a pinch to zoom in. This is the only phone I could pull into a bar and legally impress women. (This was not enough help yet.)

In July 2008, Apple introduced its App Store, opening it to third-party applications. Google will follow the G1 smartphone (also known as the HTC Dream) and its own app store a few months later. The G1 cared more about gadget enthusiasts and lacked the mass appeal of the iPhone, but it was no less influential than the Android launcher.

Today, there are more than 2.5 billion active Android devices, making Google the most OS.

"Everyone has a smartphone today, and it's amazing," says Peter Chow, co-founder and former CEO of HTC. who built the G1, which took the stage with Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page when the device was unveiled.

But it wasn't until the debut of the original Droid that celebrates its 10th anniversary next month that Android catapulted the mainstream, thanks in part to a huge marketing campaign by Google, Verizon and Motorola.

Upgrading the antenna even further, Samsung jumped on Android in 2010, ready to build its Galaxy S franchise through the even more impressive marketing push that created the two-horse dynamic we see today (Apple vs. Samsung, Apple's iOS against Google's Android).

"It's exciting to reflect the launch of the first Galaxy S smartphone 10 years ago," said Drew Blackard, head of product management at Samsung Electronics America. "Over the past decade, we have introduced a number of industry-leading innovations that have given our users a better mobile experience and changed the way we think about smartphones."

From the best apps to endless videos

The explosion in the demand for smartphones has not only been driven by more and more advanced hardware. The service knife of the Swiss Army apparatus comes from the large number of programs available to us. It took the Apple Store and Google Play Store about eight years to surpass 2 million apps, from standby games like Instagram and Angry Birds to obscure bird watching apps.

It's easy to forget that early experimental days included the best apps that earned $ 10,000 a day or useless virtual, lighter apps. At that point, Android, which originally did not have the same surveillance that Apple gives iOS, was a real Wild Wild West, with many junk apps.

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This is far from the utility of applications today. You can almost get lost with Google Maps. Protesters use secure messaging platforms like Signal and WhatsApp to coordinate demonstrations. Uber and Lyft mean you never run out of cart – even a helicopter. Apps like Life360 or Disaster Alert can literally save your life.

In the meantime, entertainment lovers will need several lives to watch the countless hours of programming found on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video and HBO Go apps, among others – with new options like Apple TV Plus and Disney Plus, appearing all the time.

Social Changes

When Samsung unveiled the original Galaxy Note in 2011, the then-gorgeous 5.3-inch display provided ample feed for endless ridicule. Remember, the first iPhone had a 3.5-inch display.

Today the original note seems strange in its diminutive growth. Samsung's latest Galaxy Note 10 has a 6.8-inch display, while the iPhone 11 Pro Max has a 6.5-inch display.

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Juan Garzon / CNET

"The desire for more screen in your hand goes beyond the grasp of your hand," Gringart said.

When the world was switching to touchscreen phones, it was constantly being debated whether people could release buttons. In 2009, handset makers are still experimenting with different ways to attach QWERTY keyboards to headsets, said Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen. G1, for example, had a sliding physical keyboard.

Many of us can now dazzle by touching the memory display.

Smartphones are also notable for having destroyed as much as they allowed. These small supercomputers have left them awake for failed businesses over the years.

When was the last time you saw a digital camera with shooting and aiming? Google Maps has made GPS navigation systems irrelevant, and when I want to feel really old, I tell younger reporters the time I used physical (paper) Thomas Guide maps to get from one assignment to another. Apple's iPod and other MP3 players, Fis Fis camcorders and even voice recorders have virtually disappeared.

Outside of luxury fashion shows, wristwatches became a novelty until companies like Apple returned the trend by offering smart watches. They work by connecting to – what else? – Your smartphone.

The Rise of China

The smartphone revolution was radical enough to destroy an older generation of mobile phones. Nokia and BlackBerry were the kings of mobile – and now none of these companies make phones, licensing their names for upgrades, eager to make the most of the once viable brands. Motorola's pioneer in the US is owned by Chinese consumer electronics giant Lenovo.

Microsoft, which dominates computers with its Windows software, cannot make Windows Phone work. HTC, the G1 manufacturer, has virtually disappeared from the scene.

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Some of the most interesting phones come from Chinese companies – like Huawei, with their folding Mate X. [19659003] Juan Garzon / CNET

While Samsung remains the king of the hill for smartphones and Apple remains the most profitable player, much of the action in the smartphone world is now emerging from China. Huawei, embroiled in contradictory statements by the US that this is a security risk, is the second largest smartphone maker in the world, and is without selling any phones in America. TCL, a Chinese company known mostly for budget TVs, has the rights to make phones using the BlackBerry brand.

Many features, such as the addition of multiple cameras, a popup camera, or the use of thinner frames, have emerged from companies such as Huawei or smaller Chinese players such as Xiaomi, Oppo or OnePlus.

The inevitable twist [19659023] There are no days we will have fun over every new version of Android or iPhone. And though innovation is still on the horizon with the rise of 5G and folding phones like the Fold Galaxy enthusiasm has given way to a more critical look at how these little metal and glass panels really came together have reflected on our lives.

This little buzz or sound creates an almost Pavlovian need to check your phone, a phenomenon called FOMO, or the fear of missing out. Critics worry that the smartphone-grown generation will be too glued to their screens to operate in the real world. After all, older generations are already hooked up to their phones.

"We all seem to be busier with what's coming out of those small screens than what's going on around us," says Caroline Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies.

The companies that service these gadgets themselves. work on applications and connect to their operating systems to minimize the time you need to spend on devices. With its Apple iOS 13 Screen Time feature, it lets you control access to apps and allows parents to better manage their kids' activities.

In November, Google released a digital wealth tool that offers many of the same types of controls. Part of Google's presentation at the I / O Developers Conference in May focused on being smarter and faster in meeting your needs.

"Looking ahead, we see another big wave of innovation that will make them even more useful," Cuthbertson said.

We have come a long way from simply making phone calls, playing music and surfing the Internet.

Originally posted on October 21, 5 am PT.
Updated, 3:00 PM PT: Adds a background.

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