Imagine living in a pre-tech world. Or even an era not so long ago before the smartphone when the world of mobile phones was seemingly dominated by Nokia and its raft of diminutive basic phones with the game ‘Snake’ being the only form of entertainment when you weren’t texting or talking.
This century has ushered in a host of tech innovations we now take for granted and would likely struggle to live without – even for a few days.
Think of when you buy something at a store or pay for fuel; in a matter of seconds, your transaction is completed by the modern point of sale tech even in small outlets and often in remote locations such as exhibitions and markets.
There’s no need to remember cash or even a card security PIN in certain cases, whereas you may recall the times just a few years ago when you needed to carry plenty of cash and remember all those PIN codes.
So what are some of these tech inventions that have become so important to us?
Satellite navigation is a classic case of tech that was initially somewhat exclusive – on account of its high price – but, as it’s matured, just about anyone can benefit from it often at no cost.
It’s made navigating around an unfamiliar area by road or on foot so much easier than consulting maps.
Mobile operating system
The advent of the smartphone has been primarily influenced by the mobile operating system with the two biggest players being Google with its Android platform and Apple with iOS.
One key factor responsible for mobile operating systems taking off in such a spectacular fashion is the advent of apps. These enable users to tailor their mobile devices to suit their lifestyle, whether for business or leisure.
Also, highly innovative technologies such as the IoT (Internet of Things) make mobile tech even more useful; phones have a part to play in making the most of this fast-moving technology such as in the remote controlling of domestic equipment and appliances.
For many people grabbing their phone to check Facebook or Twitter is a reflex action, so it’s almost hard to imagine a time when social media didn’t exist.
Originators such as MySpace and Bebo helped pave the way for people to become connected, and the major platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others have taken social networking to a level few might have imagined when in its infancy.
Along with sharing and communicating with friends and associates anywhere anytime, social media plays a significant role in many leisure and business activities.
Touch screen tech
Apple can lay claim to popularizing the touch screen when it launched the original iPhone in 2007; it featured the first mainstream touchscreen controlled purely by fingers as opposed to pecking away with a stylus (remember them?).
Now the tech has become almost the standard way to interact with mobile devices.
Some basic smartphones appeared early in the new millennium using operating systems such as Symbian, but Windows Mobile and especially Android and iOS (see above) took the smartphone mainstream.
Many smartphone users joke that “it also makes calls” – and they’re more of ultra-portable communication and entertainment device than a humble phone now.
Being able to send and receive emails, browse the web, listen to music, watch a video and generally communicate through texting, voice, video cam and more have revolutionized how people spend their time. The advent of apps enables users to tailor their smartphones to suit their specific interests and needs.
Fast mobile data
The advent of 3G marked a turning point in mobile internet use as it meant that – when out and about – your internet speed was comparable with home or office broadband, so making mobile devices far more usable.
The days when you’d drum your fingers while a web page painstakingly loaded onto the screen or waited minutes for even a basic text email to download now seem a long way off.
Since 3G speeds have increased with even faster 4G, and the next generation – 5G – isn’t far off.
The 21st century has ushered in swathes of innovations, some of which have been overtaken already such as the Apple iPod – now smartphones do the job for many with their integral music players.
Bluetooth tech is used widely as a matter of course, platforms like Skype make for cheap worldwide communications for many, and YouTube enables anyone to broadcast themselves for free whether for social purposes or to promote a business.
Avid readers no longer have to tote heavy books around when they’ve got a slimline Kindle with access to thousands of books.
What will the 22nd century bring? Let’s be honest, it’ll probably be something beyond the realms of our current imagination.