Think of how much paper we save the environment because we no longer need paper maps or boarding passes or newspapers or calendars or notepads or stationary or photo albums or movie tickets or decks of cards or cash or address books or encyclopedias (or any other books, except that I still love actual physical books) or receipts, or even, in some cases, menus.
Think of how fast we can find out what song is playing or how much 378 x 81,256 is (30,714,768) or what show is playing at the movie theater or whether it's supposed to rain tomorrow in Portland, Oregon (yes, but only scattered showers) or who the King of England was in 1244 (Henry III) or everything you could possibly want to know ABOUT Henry III. Or when the first iPhone was released (January 9, 2007).
You can find out which constellation you're looking at in the night sky. You can find out what kind of tree it is that you just took a picture of.
Think of how many devices they've replaced: watches, alarm clocks, stopwatches, cameras, timers, GPS, radios, record players, ATMs, calculators, rulers, tape measures, flashlights, blood pressure monitors, pulse trackers, step counters, CDs, DVDs, video recorders, tape machines, ticketing machines, parking meters, ...and that's just the SHORT list.
I can see almost instantly where my kids are (or at least where their phones are, haha!). Karin's in Schladming, Styria, Austria. It looks like Martin, who is in Detroit, is at work. :) This comes in extremely handy if their phone is lost or stolen, as Karin can attest to. We can see where we're going and how to get there, and how long it will take us depending on our mode of transportation and whether there is construction in the way that requires an alternate route. We can see exactly where WE are in the whole entire world. We can access street views of almost anywhere, and they're constantly being updated.
Our phones are not just a way for us to talk with those far away from us. We can text them, Facetime them, video chat with them. We can share and update our experiences and happenings and feelings and daily life on social media so that our friends and family know what's going on with us.
We can store so much info that it boggles the mind: photos, contacts, passwords, favorites, web pages, prescriptions, medical information, videos, documents, coupons, music and more.
We can access our banks, our medical history, our playlists, our email, our boarding passes. We can track packages and pay bills and call an Uber. It's really amazing and slightly mindboggling if you think about it.
People say it's frightening how dependent we've become on our phones, but it's not that different from before. We were still dependent on all that stuff; it's just because everything is gathered in ONE device for us now. It's just more convenient! It's all right THERE. We don't have to wait to look something up when we get home or call mom long-distance for a recipe (though I recommend doing that anyway because duh, CALL YOUR MOM) or use a lifeline because you can't remember who played that guy in that show you used to watch. The part that is frightening is the thought of what you would do if something happened to your phone.
For many of us, we no longer have cameras or landlines or calendars or calculators or even watches, except for the ones on our phones. The part that isn't frightening, exactly, but sobering, is how much we let these little devices fill up our time. How many minutes of every day we waste/spend looking at them, getting affirmations from them, playing games on them, using them in myriad ways that have nothing to do with telephony. They're handy little devils, but they sure are addictive. (did you know that they're actually referred to as "handys" in Germany?)
That time we used to spend staring out a bus window or flipping through outdated magazines in a waiting room can now be spent reading a book or watching a show or connecting with a friend. Granted, sometimes downtime and boredom is a GOOD thing. It helps us process and recharge and reset. But for those who loathe wasting time and those who want to utilize every moment to its fullest, smartphones are a godsend. Not that everyone who uses smartphones doesn't waste time...on the contrary. They waste it all over the place. That's what games and social media are for, essentially. But the option...the potential at least, for utilizing your time to the fullest, is there.
I can't imagine life without them, though, and I'm not sure I want to. I don't think I'd want to go back to the way things were before in the sense of convenience, collection and connectivity. I like having a pocket-sized one-stop shop.
Apps I think everyone should have: Weather, Maps, Calculator, Translator, Converters(for money and everything else), Wikipedia, IMDb, Instagram, Goodreads, Spotify, YouTube, Find My iPhone (or equivalent), Wallet (or equivalent), Mitt Apotek (or equivalent)
Some favorite apps that I use all the time
- Shazam - find out what song is playing instantly (and add it to your playlist)
- CostSplit - figure out how much everyone owes each other when you're out or on a trip with multiple people
- Parkster - pay for the actual time you spend parking, not just a guess at how long you'll be (Sweden-only)
- Swish - instant money transfer; who needs cash?! (Sweden-only)
- JustWatch - find out which streaming services that series or film you want to watch is on
- Night Sky - point your device at the sky and see what's up there, no matter the weather