iPhone X: innovation or curation?

| September 21, 2017 | By

What Apple does best is invent cultures, says Yoyo’s tech VP, Ali Minaei. With the launch of the iPhone X this week, Ali takes a look at why tech adoption, as well as creation, has made Apple so successful.

So the big day finally arrived on Tuesday and we were introduced to the iPhone X, the “biggest leap forward since the original iPhone”, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The rumours and leaks were pretty accurate when it came to new features. The iconic Home button has been dropped (farewell Touch ID) to make way for an edge-to-edge display, facial recognition has been introduced and augmented reality has been “brought to the masses”.

Along with this has come the usual bag of tricks – newer this, updated that (see full spec here).

Apple is probably the most successful brand in the world, and the iPhone is famed for its simple user experience, super cool features and ability to change consumer behaviour.

But how many of these easy-to-use features originally came from Apple? Let’s take a look at three of the key features that have really made the iPhone stand out in recent years.

Touch ID

The first thing to notice with the iPhone X is that the home button is no more – a biggie – it’s been present on every device since the first iPhone was released in 2007.

With it goes the front-facing fingerprint scanner and Touch ID, which has since been adopted by pretty much every app worth their salt.

Interestingly, fingerprint scanning on mobile was not a new thing back when it was introduced by Apple through the iPhone 5S back in 2013 – look at the Toshiba G500 and G900 in 2007 or the Motorola Atrix in 2011.

Apple Pay

Three years after Touch ID was introduced to the iPhone, along came Apple Pay, with the process working through NFC terminals. Apple was much credited with inventing contactless payment through mobile.

However, NFC technology had been adopted long before the arrival of Apple Pay. Visa, for instance, launched a version of mobile-based NFC contactless payment through the Nokia 6212 back in 2009.

Face ID

Touch ID was a fundamental working point for Apple Pay. It’s now been replaced with Face ID, which will be used to unlock the iPhone X and authenticate payment.

Again, facial recognition is not new for mobile. Google’s Galaxy Nexus, released way back in November 2011, included the ability to use facial recognition to unlock your phone.

On a side-note, this is a bigger gamble than usual for Apple. Will consumers really want to keep lifting their phone to their face every time they want to unlock their device or use Apple Pay?

What about security in terms of payment? Similar technologies have been found wanting in this area. Despite some initial wariness, mobile payment adoption has been steadily rising in the UK – to keep up the momentum, Face ID will need to prove itself pretty quickly if it expects to be adopted as another payment method by users.

So when it comes to the iPhone X, where has Apple led the way this time?

The introduction of a neural engine through the A11 Bionic chip makes the iPhone X unique! This is what powers features like FaceID and AR functionality – the cornerstone of the iPhone X.

Prepare for a world where users will be able to experience the things they want to buy through AR or transfer facial expressions on to “Animoji”.

It doesn’t sound like a lot, but make no mistake – this is big.

There are already predictions that Google, Samsung and other leading mobile-tech companies will soon create neural engines of their own.

Earlier this month, China’s Huawei announced a new mobile chip with a dedicated “neural processing unit” to accelerate machine learning.

Why does Apple always get it “right”

Innovation happens when disparate things get connected”, according to our co-founder and CEO, Alain Falys. And that, in a nutshell, sums up why Apple is so successful.

Apple seems to have a worldwide patent on the “cool factor”. Consumers want to buy the iPhone, no matter the cost, because they see it as better than anything else – whether that’s true or not.

Take the edge-to-edge screen. I’m not a fan of Samsung phones myself, but I think they’ve done a better job when it comes to the screen.

But this doesn’t stop consumers queuing outside Apple stores for miles, the media giving Apple tons of coverage or websites crashing because everybody wants to know about and buy the latest iPhone.

Apple also makes complex technology user friendly.

Take NFC. Before Apple Pay, many senior leaders in tech and payment industry used to say it stood for “Not For Commerce”. They soon changed their minds once Apple got their hands on it.

And let’s not forget, Apple is still leading the way.

At Apple’s launch event, an impressive multiplayer game called The Machines was superimposed onto a blank table, which showed us all the power of an AR experience and what the future of gaming looked like.

What Apple does best is invent cultures. They adopt, as well as create, different technologies, but they make them better and, most importantly, they know how to sell. It’s all about experience.

As Steve Jobs once said:

“You‘ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.”

Ali joined Yoyo as VP technology last month (August 2017). He has more than 15 years’ experience in tech engineering and, before Yoyo, spent a year and a half as head of UK engineering for British payday loan company Wonga.

Before than, Ali spent five years at PayPal, starting off as an EMEA innovations and labs engineer, before rising through the ranks to become head of integration architecture in 2015.