On January 9, 2007, at the Macworld conference, Steve Jobs walked onto a stage at the Moscone Center to introduce the original iPhone—a device that pretty much no one saw coming.
The first iPhones shipped in June 2007, and Time Magazine later declared it Invention of the Year.
Apple proved that it could disrupt an entire industry, this time by showing that a cell phone could be a fully functional pocket-size computer. In the nearly eight years since the iPhone introduction, Apple has led the rapid evolution of smartphones, and the smartphone industry—which also includes Samsung, Motorola, Blackberry, Nokia, Microsoft, LG, and others—has exploded into a $150 billion business.
The intent here is not to say which smartphone is best, but simply to reaffirm how these devices have truly empowered us.
We could talk at length about the ability to browse the Internet, get turn-by-turn directions, access social networks, listen to Pandora or our cloud-based music collections, video conference our colleagues, friends, and family, send and receive emails and texts, and more—from virtually anywhere.
Because I’m a tech writer, I like to have the latest and greatest, so recently bought the iPhone 6. It seems smartphones get slicker, and thinner, and faster, and nicer looking with each iteration, and the iPhone 6 is no exception.
Even so, I admit that I’ve been guilty of taking the iPhone for granted over the years. Every once in awhile, however, something happens to provide a reality check—a little wake-up call—as to just how powerful these devices can be.
My recent wake-up call
Last Monday, I needed to work from home. Normally, this isn’t an issue, as I have relatively fast Internet connectivity from my cable provider, and can log on securely to my company network.
I called my cable company, Charter Communications, but the best they could do was schedule a service appointment for the next day.
Weighing my options, I decided that I would have to get ready and head into the office. Although this would waste 90 minutes of my day, what alternative did I have?
But then I remembered that my iPhone 6 with iOS 8 offered a Personal Hotspot feature that I’d never tried. This capability uses your cellular data connection to provide a Wi-Fi hotspot for other devices.
Enabling the hot spot couldn’t be easier: On the iPhone, touch Settings > Personal Hotspot, and toggle Personal Hotspot on. That’s it. The Wi-Fi password is shown on the same screen, and I was able to connect my PC and get back online. This enabled me to continue working with minimal downtime.
The personal hotspot alone was a huge benefit, but I also had a conference call that afternoon. I called in as usual on the iPhone, and connected seamlessly.
Nonetheless, the hotspot continued working, and I continued to enjoy Internet connectivity as my conference call unfolded. I received and responded to e-mails, and used Google to look up some information that was being discussed during the call.
Next, I received a text message and was able to conduct an IM conversation, while I was still connected to the conference call and to the Internet. My usual Internet service provider failed me, but with the iPhone, I didn’t miss a beat.
The next day, a Charter technician came to my home to diagnose the issue with my Internet connectivity. He let it slip that another technician had placed a “filter” on my incoming cable line the day before, and that’s why I lost connectivity.
The technician spent three hours checking and tightening all cable connections in the house, swapped out a splitter, and then went outside and removed the filter. Magically, my Internet connectivity was restored.
No one from the cable company ever alerted me that the filter had been installed. I lost service for a day and a half and was left to wonder why.
Fortunately, I had the iPhone to bail me out. It will be difficult ever again to take this remarkably capable device for granted.