Take a computer that handles email and web browsing, runs games and useful software and make it small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.
Now add GPS and maps, a camera (still and video), and make it all work on both wireless and phone networks. Add in the ability to make phonecalls and do text messaging. Now you have a Smartphone, such as an iPhone.
According to one set of research, more than 90% of smartphones in New Zealand are iPhones.
A smartphone is a tiny computer
Really, the most important thing to grasp about a smartphone is that it’s a computer with Internet that can do phonecalls and SMS. If you think of it first and foremost as a phone you’ll almost certainly miss the point.
What a smartphone means
A smartphone is small enough to keep in a pocket — that means you’ll probably have it with you at all times: while shopping, at lunch, at parties, at work, in the gym, at the movies, walking the kids to school.
It has a web browser that works, along with a screen you can not only see, but zoom in on, and it has access to the Internet anywhere you can get a signal.
A device that you have with you all the time, and that makes a good connection to the Internet, means that a whole new world opens up.
At the Zoo
Muum, what’s a Capybara?
Well, according to Wikipedia, it’s the largest living rodent in the world…
Fancy seeing a movie?
Sure, let me check what’s on nearby and what the reviews are like.
On the road
Well, the blue dot on Google Maps shows us moving away from our destination. I think we need to take that other road we passed.
It says on this website that the last railroad spike on the North Island main trunk line was driven in at Manganuioteao by Prime Minister Sir Joseph Ward on 6 November 1908.
A new world of information
The Internet has given us a whole new world of fact and fabrication. But for as long as it streams in to a computer sitting on our desk, it’s still an arm’s length, or an hour’s drive, away.
Smart phones bring the Internet into our pocket and hands. Now we walk around with it. If we allow it to, the phone even knows where we are and what the time is. That completely changes everything.
Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, February 2010. This article has been modified for publication here.