Little did most people realise it but when Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, the world changed. Well, not precisely then, but at some point between then and today.
Now, we carry our ultra-portable smartphones everywhere. They’re the centre of our universes; our go-to device for just about everything. They’re the first device we use in the morning, and the last before we go to sleep at night.
Whether it’s searching for information, sending emails, posting on Facebook or even planning a holiday, our smartphones are the font of all knowledge: they can answer any and every question we ask.
They’re immediate, too. Rather than go upstairs to use your PC to find your nearest branch of Sports Direct, you’re far more likely to pull out your smartphone and get the answer more quickly.
Smartphones haven’t replaced PCs, though. Like tablets, Smartphones still can’t compete with our laptops and desktop computers for complex tasks such as creating a spreadsheet or newsletter. Most websites still aren’t optimised for the small screen, so you’re more likely to book your holiday on your laptop than on your smartphone.
Google did some research in 2012 on multiple screen use and the results make for interesting reading. Even a year ago, 90 percent of our ‘media interactions’ were screen-based. Only 10 percent were without a screen: listening to the radio or Hi-Fi or reading a newspaper or magazine.
Although we spend most of our time staring at the biggest screen in the house, the all-powerful TV is losing its grip on our attention. Most of us (81 percent according to the survey) divide that attention between whatever we’re watching and our smartphone. Sometimes, that’s for a complementary reason – you see an actress you recognise and search for her on IMDB, for example – but it’s much more likely that you’re multi-tasking: sending an email, browsing the internet or checking Twitter.
More interesting is the fact that smartphones are giving us back our time. Thanks to their ability to give us answers almost instantly, we can get stuff done wherever we are and whatever we’re doing. If you’re waiting in a queue, you can pay a bill using online banking, check and reply to important emails and accomplish other tasks.
Just as the internet changed the world, the smartphone is quickly becoming the essential device for accessing it. PCs and laptops aren’t going away any time soon, but the smartphone is definitely here to stay.