Not only did smartphones replace many consumer devices into one, they also had a profound impact on society, helping to prevent the spread of everything from covid to cancer. Blogger and editor of Where Are We Now? Simon Poulter reviewed BBC Technology Editor Rory Cellan-Jones ’new book, Always There: Hope and Fear in the Smartphone Age about the smartphone revolution.
The date when, arguably, face-to-face conversations ended was January 9, 2007. The date when television was set, as the “electronic hearth” of family togetherness, ceased. This is when the morning commute (remember that?) Became a head-hunched, spinal strain-inducing exercise in what we British islanders, in particular, did better than the rest-trouble social avoidance. Because that was the day Steve Jobs, who tends to lose weight, introduced “a revolutionary and magical product” that he claimed “literally five years earlier” of any rival: the iPhone.
Dream weaving jobs
Apple’s press release the other day said it combined three products: the aforementioned phone plus “a widescreen iPod with touch controls, and a rare Internet communication device with email in class email, browse the Web, search and maps. ” There was also a “completely new user interface based on a large multi-touch display and pioneered new software, letting users take control [it] with just their fingers, “this addition ushered in” an era of software power and sophistication never seen before on a mobile device, which fully defined what users could do on their mobile phone. “
This is the climax dreaming of a job Job. As Apple did with the iMac in the past decade and indeed the iPod in 2001, they took an existing concept and made it desirable and cool. The iPhone is certainly not the first smartphone (anyone working in the corporate world can endure years of BlackBerry envy), nor is it the first touchscreen -enabled gadget. But, in vain the Job cycle, for once, the tech marketing cliché “revolutionary” is widely applicable.
Today, almost 90% of adults in Britain own a smartphone, with ownership in the older demographic noticeably rising during 2020, likely due to the lockdown requiring connectivity. Despite their initial cost – a full -specific iPhone 12, bought straight away, will only get you back under £ 1000 – they’ve become necessary, but they can also be easy.
A common trope is that the smartphone in your pocket is more powerful than the technology landed on Apollo 11 on the moon. And while this is a false comparison, given that NASA was working with state of the art capabilities in 1969, it’s not a bad way of looking at the extreme power now represented by smartphones, and the – still – no exemplary functions they perform.
Model T Ford
In fact it forms the core of Always There: Hope And Fear In The Smartphone Era, a new book by Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC technology editor, and someone who was there where it all started. Recalling the Jobs press event in early 2007, Rory went on to compare, to the BBC, Apple’s new phone to the Model T Ford in terms of its potential impact.
At the time, viewers complained that he had given too much prominence to a commercial launch on the BBC’s ad-free airwaves-and even Rory himself was initially worried that he had lost the top. However, in later reflection, he felt fully proved, writing on the tenth anniversary of the launch that it was truly a “moment in history”, declaring “the major innovating technology of the past decade, putting powerful computers in hands of more than two billion people and disrupting all kinds of industries. “
Rory explains this shift in the book, discussing how Apple’s effective invention of the smartphone has established entire industry and economic ecosystems. It soon became apparent that it would not only spread the predominant handsets from Nokia, Motorola and others, but posed a presence of threat to PC manufacturers and consumer electronics brands as well. Over time, the smartphone will become your TV set, your home theater, your music system and its content library, and – its crucial development, Rory pointed out – your camera.
But, Always On Also argued, the smartphone has not just become a replacement for many devices. “Software” was also made “app”, the word is now familiar even your grandmother. How many times a day do you interact with an app, or hear the word? Even the freedom to travel is easily facilitated by the NHS app, acting as a Kovid passport. So, when you combine the hardware, the software, the functionality, the connectivity, the rise of social media and the change of app developers (even the term “swipe right” has entered popular convention thanks to Tinder), you can begin to appreciate the size of the box represented by that rectangle in your pocket.
Always On investigates in depth the social impact of the smartphone, not only focused on integrating consumer electronics into a single device, but on the global impact of digital interaction it has initiated, as our “super connected” society is living and breathing on social media, electing governments, supporting economies, finding jobs with people (and losing them through misuse…) and more. Rory is still playing the role of the smartphone in healthcare, given how the NHS app has been put at the front and center in the fight against COVID-19.
In fact my own company, Vodafone, helped develop an app called DreamLab, which allows Imperial College London to effectively harness the immense computing power of sleeping smartphones at night to accelerate the shortening of the number of thousands of hours required by human research in developing therapies for cancer and coronavirus.
However, Rory has a more personal health connection to the smartphone. A few years ago, while doing a live demonstration of 5G technology on BBC Breakfast News, viewers noted a tremor in his right hand. Unbeknownst to everyone except a few friends and colleagues, he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease a few months before.
Shortly afterwards he revealed on Twitter what he had been through: “This is a clear example of the positive side of what this book describes as the social smartphone era,” he wrote. He said we are now sinking into an era where technology has become personal, where these devices allow us to connect with “friends, strangers, celebrities and even Presidents and Prime Ministers. through new networks that have emerged to democratize communication. ”
However, there is a negative side to it – an extreme example of the recent boycott of social media football, the result of the evil racist, sexist and homophobic abuse that some players of the same sex have inflicted – but expect Rory that his book honestly reviews the positives of what smartphone technology has accomplished for individuals and society in general, as well as its dark side.
However, to go back, in my introduction to this post, there is still a remnant of the old lice that looked at the revolution that Jobs proclaimed as the beginning of a social breakdown that could no longer be fixed. The response to such arguments is always ‘do you want to go back to how it was?’ (i.e., outdoor toilets, steam trains, ‘the wireless’, etc.). “We have a slightly problematic nostalgia that has become a romantic past,” Professor Daniel Miller, head of a 16-month international study of anthropology on smartphone use said The Times recently “TV has become more passive,” he added. “Smartphones are more interactive and more social. So why lose that? ”.
Miller and his colleagues argued that the Internet, instead of creating digital zombies, has brought society together. The problem, they said, is that digital connectivity has also brought divisions within individual households. We ended up with it all: we were all sitting there as families, idly thumbing through our phones while half watching something on TV.
Rory Cellan-Jones’s original thesis that Steve Jobs made a Model T Ford for the 21st century with the iPhone should be beyond doubt. But, Miller says, it comes at a social price. “At any point, be it at a meal, a meeting or other sharing activity, someone we are with can get lost, to‘ go home ’to their smartphone,” he told The Times interview It’s almost, he believes, as if the smartphone has become too ubiquitous. “We have become human snails carrying our home in our pockets,” Miller and his colleagues wrote in their study, saying we spend more time ‘on’ our phones than our own homes.
Moreover, they contest, the smartphone now plays a very important role in how we interact with our family, friends, colleagues, celebrities, politicians and anyone else that we can only ping on WhatsApp, the technology has become the main basis of a form of human communication. as talking However, that is not new. Almost all forms of communication technology are accused of taking the place of others.
This is what excites Rory’s book. As the BBC’s leading technology broadcaster since January 2007 when Jobs took the stage with the trademark polo neck, stoned by coaches Levi and New Balance, he reported on every gadget, trend, startup, collapse, change and outbreak of hyperbole. industry since then. And when you put everything in perspective, you will be forced to disagree with that central belief Always On amusing advocates, that most of those “successes” of my PR peddle technology peers aren’t even close to smartphones.
The telephone is generally considered to be one of the greatest man-made, after the press, the electric lighting and industrial manufacturing. I would argue that, since this is more than just a mobile phone, the smartphone may someday find itself there in the same pantheon of achievements.
For the full article by Simon Poulter go to Where Are We Now?
Always There: The Hope And Fear In The Social Smartphone Era by Rory Cellan-Jones is now available for £ 18.99 RRP. It is published by Bloomsbury
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