Smartphones have become a vital part of our lives and without them, we feel like only half a person. Smartphones are used every day, to surf the internet and social media platforms, check emails, manage calendars, listen to music, play games, watch videos, take photos, read the news, write text messages, and also, every now and then we use them for their original purpose, to make phone calls.
“If you think about how much people’s use of smartphones has changed over the past 10 years, it’s pretty extraordinary,” said David Choffnes, an assistant professor in the College of Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University. “You can take all that computational power with you and access it remotely. It’s almost hard to remember a time when that wasn’t the case.”
“Things that were either impossible or really inefficient to do are now sort of an afterthought,” he adds. Choffnes rattled off a list of tasks that are now outsourced to smartphones, including getting directions, receiving restaurant recommendations, getting news updates – tasks that were formerly done by real people. “We have all the unlimited knowledge and connectivity that comes with being connected to the internet, but now it’s in your pocket or purse,” he said.
Talking about how smartphones and the internet have changed our lives, Choffnes talks about how smartphones are changing the way people communicate, and not always necessarily for the better. “People are much more into their devices than they are looking around or talking to the people around them. As much as smartphones help us connect to each other over distances, they have helped us disengage with each other in the real world.”
Additionally, as more and more people integrate smartphones into their daily lives, privacy concerns continue to grow. With everyone now having a phone and billions of apps to download, people are more vulnerable than ever to information breach. Nowadays, smartphone users have only one decision to make- use an application that collects and sells personal data, or don’t use the app at all. “There’s no middle ground”, Choffnes said.
But what’s next? “I think we’ll see that devices will have a richer understanding of what you’re doing, of what you like and don’t like, and they’ll use those models to deliver certain services to you,” Choffnes said. “More and more personalization made possible by data aggregation could make computers even more useful.” In addition to expecting a rise in virtual reality experiences, he adds, “We interact with our devices very manually now. I wouldn’t be surprised if the ways we interact 10 years from now are more than just touch and speech, but really harness the other three senses as well.”