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Today's iPhone 5
There's been a lot of discussion recently about Apple's innovation gap as compared to the other smartphone and tablet makers. Innovation, the story goes, has slowed.
There is no doubt that mobile devices have evolved considerably — especially in terms of hardware capability — over the past few years. The decline of the traditional PC market is a testimony to that fact.
Even so, there's one area — and an important one at that — where Apple barely innovated in almost two decades: The main launcher screen for mobile devices, now found in its iPhone and iPad products.
I know what you're thinking. The iPhone is only six years old. Granted, the little icons on the screen haven't changed much since the original iPhone was launched (for comparison, Microsoft was shipping Windows Vista back them), but, even so, six years isn't 20 years.
Maybe so, but climb onboard for a short tour back in time. When we're done, I think you'll agree that one of the reasons everyone is so incredibly bored with the iPhone and iPad launcher interface is that it's all been done before.
Climb into the DeLorean, get your speed up to 88 miles per hour, and we'll work our way back to a time when Bill Clinton had just become president, Michael Jackson was still in his prime, putting on a record-setting show at Super Bowl XXVII, Jurassic Park and Mrs Doubtfire were tops in the movie charts, Microsoft was selling Windows for Workgroups 3.1, and Mark Zuckerberg was 11.
This is today's iPad. Notice two main characteristics: The set of four main icons on the bottom of the screen, and the grid of app icons in the main screen.
The iPad, of course, can have up to six icons in the main app section. Remember this when we get back to 1993.
Today's iPad mini
For completion's sake, let's also look at today's iPad mini — which is identical to today's iPad. On the iPad mini, you can also have up to six main application icons.