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iPhone Q&A - Updated October 14, 2013

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Who designed the iPhone?

A Time article about the development of the iPhone reveals that the iPhone project was born from experiments at Apple regarding a handheld computer with a touch screen as a potential competitor to tablet PCs.

This article specifically mentions the late Steve Jobs in addition to Jonathan Ive, the director of Apple's Industrial Design Group -- as long term readers would expect -- as well as Scott Forstall, Apple's vice president of Platform Experience as involved in the project.

Scott Forstall provides an interesting quote regarding the level of detail addressed by the team:

Apple also places an unusual emphasis on interface design. It sweats the cosmetic details that don't seem very important until you really sweat them. "I actually have a photographer's loupe that I use to make sure every pixel is right," says Scott Forstall, Apple's vice president of Platform Experience. "We will argue over literally a single pixel."
As a result, when you swipe your finger across the screen to unlock the iPhone, you're not just accessing a system of nested menus, you're entering a tiny universe in which data exist as bouncy, gemlike objects.

Much like the iPod before it, it is important to recognize that the iPhone was designed by a team of dozens of designers, engineers, and programmers.

What font does the iPhone interface use?

To the delight of font purists everywhere, the iPhone system interface uses Helvetica or a variant thereof.

The original iPhone, iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS system interface uses Helvetica. As first noted by the always excellent DaringFireball, the iPhone 4 and later models use a subtly revised font called "Helvetica Neue." DaringFireball also notes that this change is related to the iPhone 4 display and older iPhone models running iOS 4 or later still use Helvetica as the system font.

When running iOS 7, all iPhone models use Helvetica Ultra Light or Helvetica Light.

iPod models released prior to the iPhone use either Chicago, Espy Sans, or Myriad and use Helvetica after the release of the iPhone.

What ringtone does the iPhone use? Where can I download it?

The iPhone shipped on June 29, 2007 with 25 built-in ringtones -- Alarm, Ascending, Bark, Bell Tower, Blues, Boing, Crickets, Digital, Doorbell, Duck, Harp, Marimba, Motorcycle, Old Car Horn, Old Phone, Piano Riff, Pinball, Robot, Sci-Fi, Sonar, Strum, Timba, Time Passing, Trill, and Xylophone -- but as first spotted by DaringFireball, the default "Marimba" ringtone demonstrated on January 9, 2007 was painstakingly transcribed and recorded by Nees and Vos.

Can I add additional or custom ringtones to the iPhone?

Originally, no, you were "limited" to the 25 built-in ringtones that shipped with the iPhone. However, as first spotted by the Gizmodo blog, hard working hackers discovered how to install custom ringtones on the iPhone and have provided instructions for adventurous Mac and Windows users. Subsequent hackers released a GUI-based application for adding ringtones to the iPhone (now offline), and perhaps even better, the Song Sender application made it possible to add songs on your iPhone to your available list of ringtones.

After initially discouraging the practice of adding additional ringtones by blocking third-party efforts, on December 13, 2007, Apple posted a brief guide to creating custom ringtones using GarageBand that makes it easy for anyone to do it -- no hacking required.


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