In just over a decade, smartphones have gone from a luxury novelty to a necessity. For many, they’ve replaced our watches, iPods, cameras, and can work as a computer and TV quite comfortably. How did we ever live without them? But while our smartphone has become something of an appendage for most of us, there are many things about them that we don’t know. These devices have some surprising histories and cool tricks they can do. Here are 20 surprising facts about your phone. And for more fascinating information, here are 20 Crazy Facts You Never Knew About Your Body.
iPhone Was iPad First
While the iPad arrived years after the iPhone had set the world on fire, the tablet was actually the original project Apple was working on when it came onto the idea of applying it to a phone. In an interview with All Things D in 2010, Steve Jobs explained that “I had this idea about having a glass display, a multitouch display you could type on. I asked our people about it. And six months later they came back with this amazing display. And I gave it to one of our really brilliant UI guys…I thought, ‘My God, we can build a phone with this,’ and we put the tablet aside, and we went to work on the phone.” And for more on Apple, here are 10 Crazy Cool Design Innovations at Apple’s New Headquarters.
Google Didn’t Create Android
Android began as a startup aiming to create an operating system that would use digital camera devices that could access computer services. Google purchased them in 2005 for an undisclosed sum (though estimates put it at about $50 million). For more on the world’s biggest search engine, here are 15 Things You Never Knew About Google.
Your Android is Helping Google Track Traffic
Google Maps draws on data from its Android users to help measure the speed of traffic on the road, leveraging the GPS in every smartphone to help get a picture of how fast cars are moving. If that seems creepy, Google assures users that “even though the vehicle carrying a phone is anonymous, we don’t want anybody to be able to find out where that anonymous vehicle came from or where it went—so we find the start and end points of every trip and permanently delete that data so that even Google ceases to have access to it.” Oh, and speaking of Google, here are our Favorite Celebrity Google Arts and Culture Selfies.
In Ads, iPhones are Always Set to 9:41
Look at any billboard, commercial, or print ad that includes an iPhone screen with the time on it (or iPad or Mac), and you’ll notice that it’s always 9:41. According to Scott Forstall, former iOS chief, the reason connects to the moment when the products are unveiled at the famed Apple keynotes: “We design the keynotes so that the big reveal of the product happens around 40 minutes into the presentation,” Forstall said. “When the big image of the product appears on screen, we want the time shown to be close to the actual time on the audience’s watches. But we know we won’t hit 40 minutes exactly.”
The OLED Screen is the iPhone X’s Most Expensive Part
According to an analysis by IHS Markit, the materials that make up an iPhone X add up to $370.25. By far the most expensive part of it? The new OLED screen, costing $110 per phone. The next-most expensive items: The $61 steel enclosure, and the $35 rear dual-lens camera module. Remember the shock of people everywhere, when Apple announced the cost of new iPhone? We sure do. In fact, here are The Best Reactions Yet to the New iPhone’s Big New Price Tag.
Samsung Will Make More From iPhones Than its Own Phones
Apple competitor Samsung actually manufactures a number of iPhone parts, including NAND flash memory chips, DRAM chips, and—most recently—that pricey OLED display in the iPhone X. According to the Wall Street Journal, the $110 Samsung will make for every one of the thousand-dollar phones sold will add up to more than it’s bringing in from its own Galaxy S8.
On iPhones, You can Take Photos With the Headphone Cord
Though headphone cords will soon be a thing of the past, if you still have a now-vintage pair of earbuds, you can use its cord to snap a pic. It’s an ideal trick for when you want to take a selfie from a little farther away. Still loving headphones, us too; these 20 Great-Sounding Headphones You Can Buy in Bulk.
Nokia Users Ain’t Loyal
When it comes to sticking with their current smartphone brand, Nokia and Motorola are some of the ficklest customers, with just 42% and 56% retaining their brand, respectively. The most loyal customers are Samsung (with 77% retention) and Apple (with a whopping 92% retention).
Android Versions Are Named After Sweet Treats
After the Android 1.0 and 1.1, each subsequent version has had a tasty name:
Below are the names of various Android versions:
- Cupcake – Android 1.5
- Donut – Android 1.6
- Eclair – Android 2.0
- Froyo – Android 2.2
- Gingerbread – Android 2.3
- Honeycomb – Android 3.0
- Ice Cream Sandwich – Android 4.0
- Jelly Bean – Android 4.1 – 4.3.1
- KitKat – Android 4.4 – 4.4.4
- Lollipop – Android 5.0 – 5.1.1
- Marshmallow – Android 6.0 – 6.0.1
- Nougat – Android 7.0 – 7.1
There’s a Cat in the Nougat
Google likes to include Easter eggs in each edition of its Android, and in the Nougat version, by going to the settings page and tapping “About Phone” continuously will give you a chance to attract a cat using fish, chicken, or other treats. You will get a notification that “A cat is here” once you’ve succeeded. If you tap on that, a cat icon will appear. If you love cats as much we do, you might want to learn these 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Cat.
Android is Powerful Enough for NASA
To test their sensors in the International Space Station, NASA sent two Nexus S handsets running Android Gingerbread into space.” Android is a very important feature for our team,” said Mark Micire, a software engineer in the Intelligent Robotics Group. “The availability of the Android source code allows us to customize the smartphone to be used as a compact, low-cost, low-power computer, rather than just as a phone. And because the platform is open-source, we anticipate that the public will be able to develop Android software that can be used in our experiments.”
Verizon Passed on the iPhone
Apple originally approached Verizon about serving as the exclusive carrier for the iPhone when it launched (it was the largest carrier in the U.S. at the time, after all). But Verizon balked at Apple’s demands, such as retaining control of software updates. AT&T was willing to go along with them, however, and became the exclusive carrier—before Verizon and other carriers eventually caved to Apple’s demands.
“iPhone” Didn’t Belong to Apple
Cisco actually owned the trademark for “iPhone” when the product was unveiled in 2007. The two companies had been negotiating for years but following the launch, finally reached a settlement.
The First iPhone Demo Was Almost a Disaster
While it’s gone down in geek lore as a major moment in tech innovation, the unveiling of the original iPhone at Macworld 2007 almost went off the rails, for several reasons. As Network World outlines, “the device was still very much in prototype form…From fixing Wi-Fi connectivity that would drop off randomly to a host of other usability problems, Apple engineers went into overdrive between the iPhone’s introduction and its original debut in stores.”
Smartphones Can See Your Blood Pulsing
Who needs medical equipment when you have a smartphone? Apps like Instant Heart Rate can read your heart rate through your skin. You hold your finger in front of the camera and the app is able to detect the slightest shifts in the skin’s color as blood pumps through your finger.
The Majority of Apple’s Revenue Comes from iPhones
Laptops and tablets may not be cheap, but it’s iPhones that bring in the vast majority of Apple’s revenue. According to Statista, in the first quarter of 2017, 69.4% of the company’s revenue came from its iPhone sales. Those small devices are big business. And if you want to have some silly fun with your iPhone, here’s a list of 20 Funny Things You Can Ask Siri.
Smartphones Can See Infrared
If you shoot an infrared beam right into the camera on your phone, it will pick up a purple beam on the phone’s display. This is due to the fact that most digital camera sensors can sense light frequencies that the human eye would not be able to pick up on.
”Cydia” Has a Deeper Meaning
Cydia, the jailbreak software in iPhones that allows users to find and install software on iOS devices, gets its name from cydia pomonella—a species of worms that are partial to apples.
Android Represents More Than 80% of the OS Market
Android dominates the OS market, with 82.7% market share in Q2 of 2017 (the most recent data from Statista). iOS accounts for just 12.1%.
Smartphones Can Read Barcodes
Just as they read QR codes, smartphones are also able to read traditional barcodes. This makes it easy to do everything from price comparisons to inventory management, especially if you get an assist from one of many barcode-reading apps that are out there.
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