This week saw the passing of Steve Jobs due to a long outstanding illness of pancreatic cancer and I thought it might be time to look back and see how far has mobile technology come in the last 10 years?
About 10 years ago around 2001 which incidentally was pre-SmartPhone days, I was in a hotel using a Compaq iPaq Windows CE based Pocket PC which was at that time the best operating systems and devices to use for a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant). This wasn’t my first one, no I actually had prior to this the Casio E105, E125 and many more other Pocket PC’s after the iPaq.
I was in the hotel and I wanted to connect to the Internet to check my personal email, so I got out my Nokia phone, lined the IR (Infrared) port up on the Nokia phone with the IR port on the Pocket PC, allowed the Pocket PC software to then dial out and connect using the phone as a modem. From recollection I think I was getting around 3 kbps, one thing I remember is it was slow, very slow. It did the job and providing I didn’t knock the Pocket PC or Phone, and the IR beam didn’t get interrupted in any way, and the phone signal didn’t drop, I could eventually download my email to read it off-line.
I also had a keyboard dock that I could place the iPaq into, the keyboard worked great and it enabled me to not have to use a stylus on-screen. It allowed me to type large amounts of text without having to use the 1 tap stylus. Of course, I’d have to then reconnect the modem and then it would take an age to upload it.
Looking back, those were the days where technology was a painful experience getting on-line.
Fast forward 10 years, and now every phone has a built-in modem, it’s capable of broadband speeds (up to 7.2mbps) and most of them have a built-in on-screen keyboard you can use without a stylus (aka your fingers are the stylus). The phones are always connected, so you don’t have to wait a good 60+ seconds for it to connect to the Internet, it’s always connected.
Now if I want to connect to the Internet, I just open up my email icon and it’s already checked using push email seconds to a minute before, so I don’t even have to hit a send/receive button. If I need to send an email, I just type out the email, hit send, and it’s gone within seconds. Likewise there’s Internet apps, which allow me to check where my friends and family are, interact with them, share things like my location, what I’m doing, even play a game on-line, all done within seconds.
Technology is a big part of our lives now, whether we like it or not. Gone are the days of not being connected to the Internet for the most of us (unless we leave our phone at home) and that’s a tough pill to swallow. What if someone wants to contact you? What happens if you need to make an emergency phone call? What if you’re lost? Picking up our Internet connected SmartPhone now is simply like picking up our car keys or house keys, basically you wouldn’t leave your keys at home as much as you wouldn’t leave your SmartPhone at home.
Many of the younger generation won’t have had to have gone through the painful experience, very similar to playing with pixel clashing 8kb ZX Spectrum. Now we can play console games on our phones and even beam them to our large screen TV’s.
It’s strange to see how far technology has come, for the most it’s even harder seeing what technology will be like in another 10 years. One thing I can tell you is the hover boots and flying cars still won’t be available, nor will living on the moon. These things take a lot longer to accomplish, but our every day technology moves so fast that it’s easy to forget how painful using technology once was.
Going back even further to 1993 I remember when I purchased my first modem, I connected for 25 mins to the University of Berkeley’s FTP Server, and was amazed that my computer was actually talking to another computer the other side of the world (quite literally) and that was on a 9k modem connected to my PC. Now I have a 7,372.8k modem built into my phone and it’s always connected (and not costing me a penny until I download something).
Technology is a funny thing, sometimes we love it and sometimes we loath it, but it’s now apart of our every day life and it’s here to stay.