When I take a close look today at the gadgets, smart devices, and innumerable apps that we use in our day-to-day lives, it becomes incredibly difficult to imagine that there ever existed a time when we got just fine without them. Ranging from music streaming services like Spotify and Google to entertaining OTT platforms like Netflix, thousands of tech advancements over the past decades have become so all-pervasive that I hardly tend to give them a second thought.
Yet, the sheer reality is that these most central technologies to our lives were not prevalent even 10 years ago. Sci-fi tropes like virtual reality games and universal translators have become very real. Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri completely transformed how we interact with technology in our homes.
As we are halfway into 2021, I thought it would be worthwhile to reflect on noteworthy technological advances since the 2010s. It has been a decade of marvelous products and innovations, so narrowing down the list is tough. From smart speakers to iPads that are now present in every home to innovations in space tech that help humans land on Mars, here are my personal picks for the top 10 ways technology has changed in the past decade.
The Top 8 Greatest Technological Discoveries Of The Past Decade
- Apple iPad
The Apple’s iPad ushered in a completely new category of computing devices, beating the expectations of being just a bigger iPhone. It was more intuitive, versatile, and fun to use than a tablet PC has ever been. Undoubtedly, it couldn’t accomplish everything that your big and bulky PC would, but a compact iPad worked perfectly for numerous lightweight tasks like email, editing documents, browsing, and presenting keynotes in meetings.
In 2021, there are about 1.6bn android users worldwide and 71.93% of android’s share of mobile OS worldwide.
In the past, if you wanted a smartphone, the only choice you used to get was an iPhone. However, in September 2008, Google released Android, a free operating mobile system for multiple companies to install onto their new devices. It is currently on the 10th version and is estimated to be used on over 2.5 billion active devices worldwide. Since the year 2011, Android devices have year on year outsold iPhone’s and technology used in the devices keeps on advancing to make them sleeker, faster and better performing smartphones.
- Mobile Upgraded from 3G to 4G and 5G Network
A new age of calling, texting, and internet connectivity for mobile devices was introduced by 3G networks. 4G offered 10X faster speed than 3G networks, increasing download speeds from 1.5 Mbit/s to 15Mbit/s. This reduced the download time for an 800MB movie from 5 hours to 43 seconds. After which, in February 2017, 5G was released, which is even faster than 4G. Not only it will improve the internet for our smart devices, but it will also help in transferring data in sectors like production, automotive, health care, and energy. Further, this will help numerous industries make the change from wired to wireless connections.
- Netflix and Hulu
In 2009, I could have never imagined watching a video online via an application without even downloading it. Even the mere thought of it seemed light years away from reality, isn’t it? However, it has become commonplace these days to the point that it doesn’t even surprise us anymore.
The technological evolution in 2019 allowed the masses to break through the technical barriers to watch movies and enjoy their favorite shows. One can do it seamlessly and with ease through remarkable options like Netflix and Hulu.
In 2001, Netflix had fewer than half a million subscribers. Today, Netflix has 203.66 million subscribers, up from 24.30 million subscribers in 2011. Netflix subscribers spend an average of 3.2 hours per day watching exemplary content on the platform. Presently, Hulu has an estimated total viewership of 99.7 million factoring in users of any age who watch content on the service at least once a month. That’s an increase seen of 5.5% since 2020.
It’s incredibly hard to believe that there was a time when we weren’t showing off our every experience on Instagram. Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has completely changed human behavior, from the way we find travel inspiration, the way we eat, and how we interact with our friends, in some cases even strangers.
This incredible social media platform, which in 2018 had over 1 billion active users, has always proved to be a remarkable source of entertainment and inspiration for users. Additionally, Gen Z has created a craze for conquering that space with the introduction of features like Instagram Reels, Boomerang, and IGTV.
- The Self-Driving Car
In the first half of this decade, Apple and Google began testing fully autonomous cars. Most of the major car manufacturers, along with ride-hailing companies like Lyft and Uber, have since following the norms. Today, passengers can use driverless cabs being beta tested in cities like Phoenix and Pittsburgh. Huge credit goes to machine vision and incredibly sophisticated artificial intelligence; the technology swears to make the roads completely safe and secure, resulting in 90% fewer deaths.
- Amazon Alexa
In 2014, Amazon introduced the world to Alexa, bringing the IoT into our homes. Alexa has since grown both in functionality and popularity. It comes adorned with a voice-activated virtual assistant that can perform pre-set functions out-of-the-box like set times, share the current weather status, create lists, access Wikipedia articles, and more.
In the present day, voice-enabled virtual assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, and Cortana are prevalent in millions of households worldwide. More than 1 billion voice searches every month, and programming assignments help experts predict that 50% of all searches will be voice-based by the year 2022.
- Wireless Earbuds
It was not ages back that most people were still bound to their phones by headphone wires; however, Apple shook that up in 2016 when it launched AirPods. Now, it has become a mainstream wireless headphones. In 2019 Ming-Chi Kuo, one of the most renowned and accurate Apple analyst claimed that the company could sell 50 to 55 million pairs of AirPods and double that figure by 2021. Presuming that the price remains unchanged at $159, it will equal more than $15 billion in annual sales.
Technology Will Inevitably Change The World….
The world is a very different place in the present day than it was a decade back, and changes in technology have created a huge impact on every facet of our lives. So, there remains a good reason to believe that technology will transform the world in more ways than we can imagine in the coming years down the line.
I probably missed a lot in my roundup- Snapchat, 3D printers, Oculus Rift, Quantum Supremacy, Virtual Grocery Shopping Apps, Centralized Bike Sharing, and more. With recent innovations in virtual assistants and artificial intelligence promising to make a similar outsized impact on our lives, I am eagerly looking forward to more innovation in the 2020s!