The iPhone 7 hasn’t got a headphone jack for you to plug your headphones in. That means many peripherals will need replacing and the world is almost certainly going to end. Probably. Ok, so the removal of the headphone jack isn’t ideal right now. I might remember the days when cell phones didn’t even have conventional headphone jacks, but I’ve become accustomed to their inclusion now.
Change is difficult. It always is. This isn’t the first time that Apple has done away with features that we’ve come to rely on, though. We don’t want to pretend that Apple has always been right in the long run about technology (remember FireWire?). However, the big Apple has often made controversial moves in pushing the consumer tech industry forward.
So here’s a look at a few other drastic changes it has implemented, and why it all turned out (mostly) just fine.
1. Physical keyboards
Image courtesy of Flickr user Jack Lenox.
One of the biggest challenges the iPhone had when it was first introduced to audiences in 2007 was the removal of the physical keyboard. It might be hard to transport yourself back into the mindset of people nearly ten years ago, but there were huge doubts that a touchscreen keyboard could replace people’s love for devices like the BlackBerry.
However, thanks to the technology behind the accuracy and sensitivity of the original iPhone’s touchscreens, we all said goodbye to those clunky old keyboards and never looked back.
2. The floppy disk drive
Apple didn’t kill off the floppy disk drive alone, but its design choices certainly hastened its departure.
At one point, floppy disks were our primary way of storing data in a portable format. They could typically only store 1.44MB—a size that would barely cater for one Word document now —but they did the job. They were easy to carry around, and floppy disk drives were ubiquitous.
In 1998, though, Apple took a risk. It introduced the iMac which offered a CD-ROM drive but no floppy drive. It was declared that the floppy drive was now obsolete and a waste of space. By removing it, the iMac casing was sleeker and more stylish looking, but it courted plenty of controversy. At the time, people were adamant that we still needed floppy disks. While it wasn’t until 2010 that Sony—the inventory of the floppy disk—decided to call it quits and kill them off, the seeds were sown the moment the iMac skipped the format.
3. The DVD Drive
Continuing Apple’s love of removing drives of all descriptions, a refresh of the MacBook Air and Mac Mini in 2011 caused some consternation. Both devices lost their optical drives, meaning you either needed to buy an external disc drive or rely on an entirely digital future that hadn’t quite kicked off at this point.
As someone who still felt like they needed an optical drive at the time, I was less than impressed. Somewhere over the years though, optical drive usage has dropped and you know what? It’s not such a big deal any more. While Apple would dearly love for its users to spend a small fortune on an Apple Superdrive, there are plenty of options for external disc drives, and flash drives help a lot as well. Windows laptops are now increasingly skipping offering optical drives. A digital future is indeed a step nearer to reality.
4. A new dock connector for the iPhone
Remember when the iPhone 5 was announced and it came with a completely different connector to previous iPhones? The Lightning port is great now, but back in 2012 we were all too annoyed to notice its advantages.
By switching to Lightning, it meant that many accessories we already owned just wouldn’t work any more. That included everything from docking stands to car audio systems and gym equipment. It did, however, mean that the cable could be inserted either way round, much like how USB-C works. It also meant that the iPhone 5 could be the slimmest iPhone yet, paving the way to a sleeker phone.
5. A closed environment
Image courtesy of Flickr user Yutaka Tsutano.
One of the things Apple is best known for is its closed environment. By offering devices that ‘just work’, it’s had to sacrifice flexibility—and of course, that’s not for everyone. Its desktop and laptop systems have become increasingly closed over the years, frequently providing proprietary hardware that’s hard to swap out or even simply requiring special tools to open up the system.
It’s a similar case with its App Store. iOS and Mac apps are plentiful but they still go through more rigorous testing than anything that Android has to offer thanks to Apple’s more active role in monitoring what’s in the App Store. A few years ago, one could replace the hard drive or RAM in their MacBook but even that isn’t possible any more.
Moving to industry standard Intel chips has ensured that Apple doesn’t feel quite as closed off as it once did, but there’s still a steep price to pay for such security and its ‘it just works’ mentality. For many, that’s the most off-putting thing about the company. Fans of tweaking components should not apply.