Nine years ago, Apple introduced the iPhone and the world changed. Communications, photography, music, video and personal relationships have all been affected.
Consider the point-and-shoot digital cameras that were the rage in the first ten years of the new millennium; they are now a dead and dying product. That is also true of consumer video cameras. The cameras built-in to all late-model smartphones surpass the quality of almost all but professional-grade equipment.
If you own a current smartphone model, you always carry a camera capable of producing panoramic still photos, HDR (High Definition Resolution) photos, and video clips (regular, slow-motion, and time lapse).
Numerous apps abound to edit both photos and video, allowing you to produce a movie right on the phone or tablet. The original or edited photo can be instantly printed at a photo lab or your printer. The photos on the phone do not require the additional step of transferring to a thumb-drive or CD in order to print.
Cellular (mobile or wireless phones) have been in use for over 30 year. I bought my first one in 1987. It was a Mitsubishi E-TACS and was built-in to my car. The early models could only send and receive voice calls and cost $0.50 per minute plus any long distance or roaming toll charges.
In 1999, RIM introduced Blackberry Model 850. This was the first device to integrate email into a phone. It offered calendar, calculator, alarm and keyboard. It changed corporate communications, as employees could easily send and receive email remotely.
Fast forward to June 29, 2007, and the introduction of the iPhone, which promised mobile computing for the masses. Today’s iPhones, and smartphones from other manufacturers, have delivered on that promise. In 2014, mobile phone subscriptions grew to over 7 billion. If you walk down any street, a person without a mobile phone is an anomaly.
Has the smartphone changed communications? Yes, you are able to send emails and texts: but you can also update your Facebook page, share your real time location with friends, search for comparative pricing as you shop or go old school and use the device as a phone.
Anywhere you are, you can watch a movie, watch television or listen to music from a selection of over 30 million songs on the device. News junkies will love the ability to receive up-to-the-minute notifications of disasters, stock information or anything of interest.
If you are lost, select the Maps app and it will display your current location and provide directions to your destination. Public transit directions are amazing. The app will show the location of bus/train stops, time until next bus/train, transfer points, walking distance as well as arrival time at the destination.
The phones also have built-in compasses, which are handy if you happen to lose your bearings on a remote trail.
Interested in the weather? Numerous apps show current and future forecasts for your location as well as those of your friends (so you can tell if they are truthful). My iPhone has a built-in barometer so I can manually check weather changes. There are also many apps that send hurricane, volcano and earthquake alerts.
Personal relationships have been impacted by these devices. They are so addicting that person-to-person communications are compromised. We were at a restaurant that had a table with 4 young ladies, each with a phone, each texting at the same time as they sat together. With great power comes a responsibility to ensure we do not forget to live in the moment with our loved ones and friends.
I recently read a spy thriller based in 1980’s Russia. Over half the book dealt with the characters trying to clandestinely communicate using payphones (remember those?).
The storyline mostly dealt with field agents looking for, or trying to discreetly use, the payphones to report or find out current conditions to achieve their goals. Mobile phones would have made the novel a short story and eliminated most of the suspense.
Security is not as sexy as any of the other features, but it is probably the most important. The stress of car troubles in a remote area can be minimized by use of a smartphone. Not only can you call for help, but also give your exact location to the operator.
Home security cameras can now connect to your smartphone. In real time, the camera shows video of the caller on your phone’s screen while you respond by voice, whether you are home or away.
Smartphones can also connect to numerous health devices which can monitor vital signs and alert health professionals when dangerous conditions occur.
If you are one of the few people without a smartphone, I strongly encourage you to consider the purchase of one. Even if you are not interested in the photos, entertainment or internet communications, get one for the security and peace of mind that it will provide.
If you are reluctant to purchase due to the technical complexity, take a young person with you; not only will they be happy to do so, but they will spend hours showing you how to use the phone. For most people, that alone would be worth the price of the purchase.
The dark age of modern communications ended in June 2007 when Apple introduced the iPhone. The pocketsized device allows everyone the ability to easily access all the information available on the internet, wherever they are. But not only access the information, because communications go both ways; these devices are also tools that create, and distribute content, allowing for collaboration between friends, family and the world. Imagine Grandma chatting on a video phone call with the grandkids on her smartphone.
If you have questions, or would like more information about the purchase of a smartphone, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Manzanillo Sun’s eMagazine written by local authors about living in Manzanillo and Mexico, since 2009