It has been two weeks since I got my new smartphone, the Palm Centro. I won’t bore you with an extended tech review — I think it’s a great gadget, but I dislike the Web browser — but I can review how my daily life has changed since I got it.
The Centro is not only my latest phone, it is the first smartphone I have owned. Since getting my phone, I am in greater touch with friends. Daily, I have been exchanging quick little missives via text messaging. Over IM, my friends and I have shared jokes or changes in plans. Such communication is great, but only a simple evolution from the routine of e-mail and IM on my work and home desktops.
The larger changes to my life have come in little ways. Last weekend after a the train ride ending at 2 a.m. I did a little Web surfing. Those minutes of browsing helped me to stay a bit sane after my bus failed to come. One night earlier this week, the music I had put on the Centro helped lighten my mood and reduced the stress I was feeling. Another night, a quick text message to my friend helped us rendezvous online for a few hours of Halo 3. One afternoon a quick Google search gave me the cross street to my destination — a place I had never been — even as I walked toward it.
These may be nice improvements to my life, but they pale to those still to come. Looking at the Centro or the iPhone or the Kindle, the idea that desktops and laptops will give way to the dominance of smartphones seems very likely. I look forward to: constant access to easy-to-use and comprehensive dictionaries and encyclopedias; location-based searching for businesses like restaurants or sales items in stores; simple applications for mobile social networking; enhanced reality features such as scanning objecting for additional information. Many of these can be done now using fringe software, but the day they become standard and everyone does it, is the day they start changing my life and everyone else’s. And I am sure there are other innovations that will arise as smartphones continue to evolve, improve, grow more powerful and less expensive.
A conversation with my colleague Saabira made me think of the bigger picture. The mass-adoption of PCs changed our society, as did the Internet and the cell phone that followed. As the smartphone matures into a powerful and intuitive extension of people’s daily lives, our society is guaranteed to go through unforeseen changes. I for one look forward to it.