10 Years of Smartphones, 10 Major Changes they Brought Forth
This year marks the tenth anniversary of the release of the iPhone, the revolutionary handset built by Apple and marketed by Steve Jobs. Over the years, smartphones have become a new norm – today, there are over 2 billion of them active around the world, making them one of the most popular gadgets ever invented. Smartphones have put a whole world in our pockets, yet this is only one of the important changed they caused in the world around us. Let’s see 10 ways in which smartphones have changed the world in the last 10 years.
1. Vegas in your pocket
The early attempts to expand online casinos to mobile phones were mostly unsuccessful due in part to the slow and unreliable mobile internet connections and in part to the small screens these phones had. Not that they weren’t made, though. Royal Vegas mobile was first launched around 2004, long before the advent of the smartphone as we know it. After the iPhone, though, smartphone gaming – including the games at the Royal Vegas – has started to develop fast. After the introduction of the HTML5 standard, the Royal Vegas Mobile returned to the spotlight, putting Vegas-style entertainment in every pocket that wanted it. Today, anyone with a smartphone can play the slots at the Royal Vegas – all they need is an internet connection.
2. Being online
In the age of the PC, instant messaging was used in a far more limited way. With no connected devices in our pockets, we were only online when in front of a PC. As the smartphone put an internet-capable device in our pockets, we are more reachable than ever – we can now exchange text and voice messages through a great variety of protocols wherever we are. Today, the only way to be offline is to turn off your phone – yet nobody wants to do that, right?
“Freemium” was one of the greatest innovations in the way of distributing software, brought forth by the advent of the smartphone. It means that any game, software, and service can be used in a free, ad-supported way by any user but to remove ads, get in-game benefits or access some premium features, users are charged a certain amount. This has helped publishers reach a far larger audience than ever, and generate income even if giving out their software free of charge.
4. Faster mobile networks
Smartphones are indirectly responsible for the faster mobile network connections we use today. Before the smartphone, slow internet connections were perfectly usable by the majority of users. Smartphones, in turn, allow users to consume far more media and download far more apps than any other, which made it necessary for wireless providers to up their game. GSM has kept developing over the last decade, leading to the spread of 3G networks, and the introduction of 4G. This year, we’ll see the first 5G (fifth-generation) network tests in public, which will be faster, stabler, and more reliable than any of their predecessors.
Smartphone users are online almost all the time. With mobile data prices continuously dropping, and their speed continuously growing, users don’t feel the need to store music and media on their phones anymore when they can stream it directly anytime. Streaming audio and video are now the new norms, slowly replacing downloads as we speak.
6. No mode MP3 players
Portable media players have gone out of style with the advent of the smartphone. Who would need another pocket-sized music player, after all, when the smartphone is capable of doing the same? Pair that with the streaming capabilities of the smartphone, and you’ll see why the fate of the Walkman, the Discman, and all other portable music players was doomed when the first iPhone was presented.
7. Batteries that don’t last
Back in the day, it was enough to charge your phone once a week or twice if you used it a lot. Today, in turn, a smartphone that lasts two days with a single charge is a rarity. Even though we have newer, better, and higher-capacity batteries, we also have a higher-power hardware, with huge screens, countless processor cores, and powerful GPUs. Charging your phone daily has become a ritual for all smartphone owners out there.
Self-portraits or selfies have become so widespread that phone makers started adding specific cameras for their purpose to their phones, and the Oxford English Dictionary has added the term “selfie” to its collection. Even though they are considered meaningless by some, expressions of narcissism by others, and they can even be dangerous, selfies have become part of our everyday lives thanks to smartphones.
Smartphone applications, these pieces of code distributed through “app marketplaces” that are called “apps” since the advent of the iPhone, have become widespread in the last decade. So much so that, even though they barely existed a decade ago, today they power an industry worth billions of dollars. When Steve Jobs said “there’s an app for that”, he was right – today, you can download an app for virtually everything on your smartphone.
10. No more compact cameras
Last but not least, let us bow our heads in the memory of the pocket-sized, compact digital camera. Camera phones have, in the past, successfully competed with the compact camera, yet smartphones put the last nail in their coffin. Smartphones today have amazing cameras, even though they don’t come with the same optics as their “soapbox” predecessors. Mid-range, semi-professional cameras are now the minimum people are willing to pay for.