Insights

The Last Decade In Tech

The last decade has felt like a long, long time ago. You remember when Mark Zuckerberg got grilled by congress about Facebook’s shady dealings and his horrible haircut? That wasn’t even a year ago. The last ten years have brought about immeasurable change to society through the technology we interact with on a daily basis – here’s some of the more memorable ones.

Facebook

The Facebook Menace

Ever completed one of those personality quizzes on Facebook? Well, lots of people did, and it turned out the information being gleaned from these things weren’t just being used for entertainment purposes. A whistle-blower for research firm Cambridge Analytica revealed that their quizzes were being used to mine people for their personal information, which was then used to sell to political advertisers for their own gain. It was a public relations nightmare for the company and a wake-up call for us all that our private information should remain that.

The Attack of the Tech

It’s not a shock to find out that staring at a computer or a mobile device screen all day can’t be good for our health. Thankfully, a wave of apps have come along to help us manage our health better in a friendly and convenient way.

They can be as simple as ones that alter the colour balance of your screen based on the time of day to help you sleep better, or ones that help you manage your hectic schedule and keep you on track, or let you know ahead of time when you need to get up and move around or manage your monthly cycle.

There are also apps that tell you to put your phone down and go look at something else, but they’re not as popular.

Revenge of the Sharing

While the concept of rental accommodation, listening to music on the go and being driven across town in someone else’s care are hardly new concepts (the first patents for streaming music were made in the 1920s!), companies like AirBnb, Spotify and Uber offered a highly convenient way for everyone to access them with their custom applications.

What it offered in convenience it cost in permanence and accountability – you don’t own the music you stream, and the companies behind ride-sharing apps shift the responsibility of safety to a self-regulating model. Uber, the biggest transport company, owns no cars. Spotify, the biggest music company makes no music. Airbnb, the biggest real estate site, doesn’t own any real estate. We now live in a society of temporary providers and renters.

iPhone 4: A New Hope

While the iPhone was already a household name in its early versions, it wasn’t until the iPhone 4 that the form and the function of the device truly merged together to make something beautiful. Designed by Apple’s design wunderkind Jony Ive, the iPhone 4 offered a sleek smooth finish around its rounded edges. The operating system matched the design sensibilities of the hardware, and it just looked like something from the future that was somehow transported into 2010.

The reveal was spoiled somewhat when a mostly-functional prototype was accidentally left in a San Francisco bar by a (presumably now ex) Apple employee and picked up by a more sober Gizmodo journalist who proceeded to take it apart and show the world (including Apple’s rivals) what was inside this beautiful black box. At any rate, the iPhone 4 formed the basis for how all smartphones looked for many years hence.

The Gig Economy Strikes Back

Sites like Fiverr and their myriad of clones have let people connect with creative people all around the world, and more many people this has meant a steady stream of income they wouldn’t otherwise have. However, it’s also devalued creative work for many people. After all, why would anyone hire an artist to make an album cover at full market price when they could just get someone to do a similar job on Fiverr for a fraction of the cost?

Also, these ‘gig economy’ jobs don’t offer any of the benefits of an old-fashioned day job would, such as sick leave, holiday pay or the ability to raid the office supply cabinet when you’re running out of coffee for home. But still, in today’s economy, it’s better than nothing.

Return of the Instant Celebrity

Andy Warhol predicted that everyone would eventually get 15 minutes of fame but somehow, we don’t think he had streaming in mind. Sites like YouTube, Twitch and Mixer allows anyone with a camera – in other words, everyone – to stream themselves playing games, making music, opening toy boxes or just walking around to potential audience of millions. Some of them get audiences in the thousands or even millions of people. The biggest streaming celebrities have their own toy lines, advertising deals and rabid fan bases…and chances are you’ve never heard of them. That’s the internet for you.

The Swipe to Date Awakens

Meeting people with similar tastes, interests or even just location became a lot easier with the advent of smartphones and dating apps. A budding suitor only had to set up a profile and be swiping left and right for an hour set themselves up with a list of potential partners within the hour. It’s highlighted the power and potential of the internet to make positive connections instantly and shown just how weird some people can be given an ounce of anonymity.

A pair of headphones, yesterday

The Last Headphone Jack

When Apple revealed the iPhone 7 in 2016 it touted an improved camera, faster processor speeds and a more intuitive interface, but what got people really talking was what it was missing. For the first time, the iPhone didn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack.

The company touted the advantages of removing the headphone jack (“More room for a bigger battery!”, “No more accidental water damage!”, “the future of audio is digital!”) but the more cynical observers noted that this change came in the wake of Apple buying Beats, one of the world’s largest Bluetooth headphone brands.

Of course, competing smart phone brands were quick to follow suit, and now it’s hard to find a phone that offers the old-fashioned plug that almost every standard headphone has been using since the 1950s. Never fear however, as Apple are happy to sell you an adaptor to let you keep using your trusty headphones – for $15.

The Rise of Cloud

Telecommuting has been bandied around as a concept since home computers and dial-up modems went on sale in the early ‘80s, but the advent of the cloud over last decade has cemented it as a viable workplace alternative that is here to stay. Group messaging services like Slack, Discord and Whatsapp mean you can talk to workmates all around the world, and collaborative digital tools let people work together across vast distances. We’re all sitting in front of the computer or phone all day anyway, what’s it matter where those devices are?

We don’t have all the answers to the question of what the next decade will bring, but our team of web developers will be the first to find out. Contact iFactory to ensure your business has the latest website, online shop or application at the ready.