There is a famous historical photo of Easter morning, 1913 on 5th Ave in New York City. If you look closely at the photo you can see one horse-drawn buggy among a huge mass of cars. Then study the photo of Easter morning, 1903 – one decade earlier – at that same location. See if you can spot the one automobile amidst a throng of horse-drawn buggies.
One decade, one major technological invention that completely changed the way folks traveled, worked and conducted business. Out with the old, in with the new.
As we usher in a new decade, let’s remember some of the products and technologies that have largely been put out to pasture by one of the most extraordinary inventions of the past decade: the smartphone.
Folding map – Remember the paper maps we kept crammed in the glove compartment? Once opened, they were never folded correctly again. And it seemed we most needed them when it was dark outside and at the precise time the dome light in the car needed a new bulb. Then there was that part about “street continued on reverse…”.
Now we whip out our iPhone and say “Hey Siri, directions to the nearest Starbucks,” and we haven’t purchased a paper map in – well, in almost a decade.
Alarm clock – I (Jay)admit it, I still wonder if my iPhone will really wake me up in the morning. But it always does. Still, Jacci still sets her clock radio (say what?) to be extra sure on those mornings when we have important appointments.
Flashlight: Can’t find your keys in your purse? Walking to your car late at night? Learn how to easily access your phone’s flashlight for situations like these.
Magnifying glass: Our students are delighted when we show them how to use the magnifier feature on their smartphone. This little tool is incredibly handy when you’re trying to read a menu in a dark restaurant, or the teeny tiny print on a medicine or supplement bottle. On many phones you can also activate the flashlight while using the magnifier.
Address book: If you haven’t discovered the ease and the joy of having your contacts in your phone, we encourage you to get started. You can quickly and easily send your contact people emails and text messages, make calls, get directions to their homes or workplaces, and even remember their birthdays. “Hey Siri, call Uncle Jim.”
Wristwatch: If you carry your phone with you, you’ll never need to wear a wristwatch again. Today’s smartphones come with the time prominently displayed. And most have an app called “clock” – explore your clock app and you may find that it also contains “world times,” an alarm feature, a stopwatch and a timer.
Calculator: Every smartphone today comes with a calculator app. And for those with more sophisticated computing needs, there are a variety of third party apps available to download to your phone.
A wallet? Are you kidding? No kidding! There’s a reason you see young people carrying only an iPhone (usually stuck in the back pocket) and a set of keys. Today’s smartphones can be set up to make payments at most retail and many service establishments without the need for a physical credit card, check or cash. You enter your preferred credit card information in your phone’s wallet app and then just hold your phone near the ATM/credit card reader to make a payment.
We only recently decided to embrace the wallet app on our iPhones and we don’t want to turn back.
Boarding pass: We admit we are not yet on board (pun intended) with this one. Probably because we have a friend who decided to be progressive, and couldn’t find the darn email with the boarding pass at the critical moment when he needed it. He had to return to the front desk at the airport and request a paper boarding pass. Almost missed his flight.
Maybe we’ll embrace this technology in the *next* decade?!
Like the automobile in the early 1900s, the smartphone has significantly changed how we live, communicate, conduct business, travel and negotiate most aspects of daily life. Sometimes for the better, and sometimes at the expense of face-to-face interactions and conversations.
This decade, don’t be afraid to get more tech savvy. Just find the balance between digital and personal that works best for you.
Have a happy, healthy New Year!