Modern technology means that we can organise almost everything we do down to the last detail from the comfort of our own homes. Even going on holiday, which used to take weeks if not months of planning, is now a simple process. Book the flights, book the hotel, book the rental car, check out the bars and restaurants in the area, find out what the local tourist attractions are and even buy tickets for them – all of it is now just a few clicks away.
The most amazing thing of all is that we don’t even need a computer to do all of this. The small handheld device we call a “smartphone” is all we need these days. In the palm of our hands we have the ability to organise a holiday and almost anything else we need. Food and drinks, transport, packages etc can all be brought to our homes within the hour using this one technological marvel. We can send anything we like anywhere via a selection of services and go anywhere we like, all with a few taps on a touch screen. If anyone had predicted all this just 25 years ago they would have been called crazy. When the “mobile phone” first appeared manufacturers vied with each other to make the smallest units possible. They got incredibly small at one point, and the smaller they were the more expensive they became. But phone technology was not the problem. Battery technology was. In fact, in the end the minimum size of a mobile phone came down to two governing factors – the minimum size of a battery that would last an acceptable amount of time and the distance between the average person’s ear and the average person’s mouth. But it didn’t last. When the only thing a mobile phone could do was allow you to talk to someone, we wanted it to be as small and as unobtrusive as possible. We wanted to use it then put it in our bag or shove it in our pocket until the next phone call. Then text messaging came along. Now we needed a unit on which we could type messages using an “alphanumeric” key pad. They had to get bigger. Then the smartphone came along with email, internet and so many other amazing capabilities. We suddenly needed a full keyboard on which we could type faster. Some manufacturers produced phones with full QWERTY keyboards below a screen. They got it wrong. The visionary phone makers went for touch screens, which basically meant that the keyboard was only there when you needed it – the rest of the time the screen was free for viewing larger images and full screen videos. And that is the winning format that remains the most popular today. So size is no longer an issue because we accept that smartphones need to be bigger so that we can use them to make phone calls (rarely), and also surf the internet and look at pictures and videos without straining our eyes. But there is one problem that remains; power. Battery technology has advanced a great deal but nowhere near enough to keep pace with the demands of smartphones and all the marvellous things they can do. So now we all carry extra battery packs and chargers everywhere we go and we are constantly on the lookout for power outlets. So we’ve happily gone from carrying the smallest mobile phones feasible to carrying relatively huge power-hungry smartphones PLUS supporting power sources so that we can do things we never used to need to do. And heaven forbid our batteries should die because then, for some reason, all of our plans instantly fall apart.