As the decade comes to a close, we want to take the time to reflect on the global superpower that took over the world: the smartphone.
These tiny slabs of metal and glass have infiltrated and transformed virtually every aspect of our lives.
In the previous decade, most of us were using flip phones with keys that you had to press three times just to get one letter. So, to thank smartphones for bringing the touchscreen QWERTY keyboard to our mobiles, we decided to look at four other ways that they have changed our lives over the last decade.
Unlimited Information at the tip of your hands
There was once a time when people would hurry home and gather around the television set to find out what was happening in the world. Or sit in a library flicking through hundreds of books to learn about the events of the past. Now, our phones act as little pocket professors that we can access anytime and anywhere there’s an internet connection.
Scientists have suggested that this unlimited access to information is actually transforming the way our memory works. Instead of remembering and storing facts in our brains, we simply remember where we can find them. Our phones are basically acting as little extensions of our brains!
Also, with so many educational apps available, you can now learn a new language, improve your numeracy skills or simply brush up on random trivia all on your morning commute to work. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me!
Immediate access to Music
Do you remember when you used to hear a song you liked but had no way of finding out what it was called? Now with apps like Shazam, you can find out instantly!
Since Thomas Edison first reproduced sound, we have seen major developments in the way that we discover and listen to music. Before the smartphone, we relied on CDs (remember those things that you spent ages breathing on to clean!). Then we had MP3 players which required you to connect wires to your desktop and then wait ages for the songs to download. With music streaming apps, we now have immediate access to millions of songs at our fingertips.
You can listen to all your favourite songs without even having to download them! With their clever algorithms, these apps also allow you to discover bands and genres that you never would have before. Have you ever listened to avant-garde bluegrass death metal? Very interesting stuff.
Finding love through Online Dating
Ever since the explosion of dating apps in 2010, the way that singles meet and connect with each other has changed dramatically. Your dating life is no longer confined by your social reach or geographical location. You are no longer restricted to dating friends of friends or strangers you met in a dimly lit pub. When it comes to dating the world is truly your oyster.
Statistics show that almost 20% of all new relationships started online and this is estimated to increase to over 50% by the end of the next decade. Also, with over 2,000 dating apps as of 2019, there is something for everyone… even for people who have a thing for beards (yes, really). Romance has shifted from flowers and boxes of chocolates to heart emojis and swipe rights!
Travelling made easy!
Smartphones have even managed to make going to the airport bearable! There are apps that can offer real-time information about the status of your flights, guide you to your gate and give you information about all the different amenities available to you in a particular airport.
You can even store your boarding passes or hotel booking information on your phone. No more crumpled up printouts stuffed into your luggage!
Also, having maps with GPS available on our devices means that it’s pretty hard to get lost. Now you don’t have to miss out on half of the activities on your itinerary, trying to make sense of a paper map that you’ve been holding upside down the entire time. If you still manage to get lost, there are an increasing number of ridesharing apps that will pick you up and drop you off right outside your destination (and at an affordable price too!)
These are just a handful of ways that smartphones, over the course of the last decade, have transformed our lives. They have shaped the way we interact with each other and consume information. They even given us more free time!
A study found that being able to do so much from one device in practically any location has given individuals’ nearly an extra month of free time. And with things like 5G on the horizon, they are only getting more efficient! It will be interesting to see how much more time we can save with our devices in the next decade. This could mean more time to pursue the things we want to, whether that be learning a new skill, spending time with family or getting really, really good at Candy Crush.