In less than half a decade, the iOS platform has changed the way that we, the public, think about our mobile computing devices. Only a few years ago, we were thrilled by phones with postage-stamp-sized screens, tinny audio, built-in tip calculators, and text-based web browsing. Times have indeed changed. With full-featured applications, an interface architecture that demonstrates that small screens can be effective workspaces, and touch controls unrivaled on any platform, the iPhone brings us the convenience of desktop computing within our pockets.
When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad, people laughed at the name and the idea that “a big iPod Touch” could be magical. In the 2 years that have passed since its introduction, the iPad has become the de facto standard for tablet computing and shows no signs of slowing down. Rarely a week goes by when I don’t read a review of a new app that is described as “magical” and that could only have been created on the iPad. The excitement and innovation surrounding iOS and the sheer enjoyment of using the iOS devices has led it to become the mobile platform of choice for users and developers alike.
With Apple, the user experience is key. The iOS is designed to be controlled with your fingers rather than by using a stylus or keypad. The applications are “natural” and fun to use, instead of looking and behaving like a clumsy port of a desktop app. Everything from interface to application performance and battery life has been considered. The same cannot be said for the competition.
Through the App Store, Apple has created the ultimate digital distribution system for developers. Programmers of any age or affiliation can submit their applications to the App Store for just the cost of a modest yearly Developer Membership fee. Games, utilities, and fullfeature applications have been built for everything from pre-K education to retirement living. No matter what the content, with a user base as large as the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, an audience exists.
Each year, Apple introduces new devices—bringing larger, faster, and higher-resolution capabilities to the iOS family. With each new hardware refresh come new development opportunities and new ways to explore the boundaries between software and art.