Many Apple fans were amused when Phil Schiller explained the removal of the headphone jack on last year’s iPhone as “courage”. But that was nothing compared to what happened last week.
For ten years, the iPhone looked like this:
A rounded rectangle, bars on top and bottom, and a circle centered in the bottom bar. If you want to get fancy, put a line in the top bar, too.
It’s so simple that even when children draw it, it’s instantly recognizable as an iPhone to most of the world’s population. Not just any phone — an iPhone, specifically.
As an app developer and fan, I was hoping that the long-rumored edge-to-edge iPhone screen would still be a rectangle, possibly even with room for a Home button on a narrower bezel, so I wouldn’t have to change my habits (or my app’s layout):
But that’s the unmistakable image of an Android phone. (Or a generic smartphone — same thing.)
Apple would’ve lost what the iPhone has had since its introduction: a unique, recognizable shape that distinguishes itself from all of the other boring rectangles out there.
Many are now speculating that Apple will find a way to get rid of the iPhone X’s top “notch” (officially called the “sensor housing”) as soon as they can, and that this is a temporary design meant only for a few years. But I don’t think so.
Many app developers are planning to hide the notch in the UI with black bars. But Apple explicitly says not to.
This is the new shape of the iPhone. As long as the notch is clearly present and of approximately these proportions, it’s unique, simple, and recognizable.
It’s probably not going to significantly change for a long time, and Apple needs to make sure that the entire world recognizes it as well as we could recognize previous iPhones.
That’s why Apple has made no effort to hide the notch in software, and why app developers are being told to embrace it in our designs.
That’s why the HomePod software leak depicted the iPhone X like this: it’s the new basic, recognizable form of the iPhone.
Apple just completely changed the fundamental shape of the most important, most successful, and most recognizable tech product that the world has ever seen.