I'm 25 years old. My son would tell you that makes me ancient, but with Rick Astley, Green Day, and Blink 182 all having released new albums over the summer and seeing Dave Chappelle on Saturday Night Live last weekend, I'm feeling pretty darn relevant lately. That is, until I got on Facebook the other day.
There I was, mulling through my news feed when I came upon a photo of Walt Disney World, all decorated and ready for the upcoming holidays. My hand isn't the steadiest of hands, so I was quite surprised when I noticed that the photo of Main Street USA started... moving? Oh. It's a 360-degree panorama. My phone's gyroscope recognized this and allowed me to "look" around the area simply by turning my phone in different directions. It's the first time I've experienced this without having to prompt my phone to do something special beforehand. The feature really made me think about how far mobile technology has come in such a short time span.
I think back to my very first cell phone – an LG flip phone of some sort on Verizon’s pre-paid network – and how vastly different flip phones/feature phones are compared to what we have today. Back then a VGA camera was considered good (any camera was good). A phone that could hold more than a few songs was considered good. A phone with a full QWERTY keyboard was considered good (T9 predictive text wasn't all that bad – except when your name is Anna and T9 automatically predicted "bomb" in its place. I was probably on a few lists due to the number of times the word "bomb" was sent to me.) I never even realized how annoying a non-threaded messaging system was until I got my hands on the Samsung Instinct, my almost-but-not-quite-smartphone. Oh, and web access was atrocious, but we were still grateful for what we had.
It's just funny because when I stop to think about it, smartphones are amazing. We always seem to complain about them in some form or another – and that's inevitable because pointing out their relative shortcomings is how they get better – but truly we have a lot to be thankful for in regards to cell phone evolution over the past two decades or so.
We have vastly superior virtual keyboards (and even some smart physical ones still around); we have threaded messages that allow us to send not only texts and photos, but also instant messages, HD videos, GIFs, stickers, and emojis; web browsing is often just as good, if nothing else more convenient, on our smartphones as it is on our desktops. The cameras on our phones are often so high quality that many people have no need to carry around a secondary camera; drastic advances in storage space coupled with the rise of streaming music services effectively killed off any need for mp3 players. Heck, we are even able to pay for things with our phones now. The screens are big, sharp, and beautiful and their batteries last more than 4 hours at a time. We can watch movies, play games, create and edit documents, control things like your TV, home alarms, or even your lights, and countless other things.
It's so easy to get caught up in all of the things that are “wrong” with our smartphones today, but sometimes it’s good just to take a step back and acknowledge that things are pretty good right now.
What are your favorite aspects of smartphones? Let us know in the comments below!