How smartphones have changed the way we live

How smartphones have changed the way we live

I’m old enough to remember a time when there weren’t a great deal of mobile phones. I also remember a time when a “smartphone” had never been heard of. What made me think of all this was when I met an old college friend. We sat down, drank a few beers, and discussed the fun times we had. Along with several others, we’d all spent more than 2 years together. We’d gone clubbing several times a week, got drunk on an almost daily basis and done many other things I’ll frankly not go into.

When I got my first job in IT my first purchase was a street map. It became a well-thumbed book with scribbles and familiar grid references. I drove around Lancashire and it became my most essential tool for navigating around GPS was in it’s infancy, and GPS on a phone was a distant hope.

How smartphones have changed the way we live

Browsing the internet? You’d have to drive home and crank up your desktop PC, wait for it to go through a lengthy boot process and then fire up NetScape Navigator. Mobile data? A pipe dream. WiFi wasn’t really a “thing” either.

Now we have hi-resolution cameras, instant on-line communication, fast data access on mobile networks, WiFi, accurate navigation, mobile browsers and many thousands of apps to fulfill every need and requirement. We’re having to install virus killers now, and many will need to get antivirus for Android software or iPhone antivirus software.

While discussing all this, I asked whether he had any photos of the “gang” but, like old school photos, very little survives. If we went to the pub or a club we never took a camera, and if someone had a mobile phone it’d probably be a basic Nokia with a pull-out antenna. These phones were more suited to knocking nails in and didn’t have cameras at all. The few photos we do have are taken from a grainy VHS video tape, but that’s it. If you turned up to the pub with an old-style instant camera then you’d get strange looks and raised eyebrows. Now it’s standard behavior to take a camera, albeit on your phone, and we’re probably taking more photos weekly than I ever took in a year back then.

How smartphones have changed the way we live

Likewise, a clunky handheld video camera would rarely be seen unless it was a very special occasion, and sharing these moments with the world would have been an insane thought.

As I waffled on, we remembered how we used to arrange nights out. At the time text messages were new. Some networks actually charged you to turn the service on. I remember my girlfriend owning a pager and how awkward it was to call the “paging centre” to send her a message which then flashed up on the top of her small blue pager. Imagine one-way texting, that’s basically what it was.

There’s the temptation to go away from the traditional stores, such as Google Play, to side-load other apps, so anti-virus apps are essential. Once you are protected though, those apps can let you share those special moments with your friends, including all those drunken moments that I lost many years ago. You can plan and arrange nights out, go to new places without having to worry about maps or direction, and you can record all of this in HD video.

Not only that, but the smartphones of today have changed the way we interact with companies and stores. Instead of going to visit a shop, we instead browse, buy and complain via our smartphones. If you’ve bought a product and don’t like it, you’re probably more likely to head to Twitter or Facebook instead of calling them.

We now live behind our screens more, almost living our lives through these gadgets. Those apps will let us make video calls, share our lives with friends, watch TV, challenge others, recognise music, watch music videos and store files. Not only that, but organising your life is now done as you walk to the bus stop. No more filofax or diary needed, it’s all in one slender gadget.

The big question for me, though, is whether I would actually have any more surviving pictures now, even if I’d had a smartphone all those years ago. How many of your truly backup your photos and moments?