14 Things Your Smart Phone Is Killing

You’ve got a killer in your pocket. Relax; it's just your smart phone. But it is eradicating all manner of other devices and services.

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We know about landlines. We know about clocks, stopwatches, and kitchen timers. We’re well aware of calendars, address books, separate still and video cameras, and even tape recorders. All of those things are slowly being replaced by your smart phone. With every new upgrade and every new slate of apps that becomes available, the need for certain formerly helpful things goes away. Several are obvious, but there are still quite a few more that you might not have considered.

1. Take-Out Menus

It’s okay to admit that you still have the take-out menu drawer. You know it’s there, stuffed with folded food lists from that new burger joint or that Chinese buffet that you know closed six months ago. Frankly, you don’t really need it anymore. Most restaurants now have comprehensive versions of their menus on their sites, and that’s without getting into places that have their own individual apps or that are part of larger delivery services. When you can pass your phone to one of your kids so that they can order pizza while you’re already on your way to the parlor, you know that the menus have passed their overall expiration date.

2. Translators

Sure, nuance in conversation is important, particularly between cultures. But computer programs have gotten better and better over time at making communication across the language barrier easy. Google Translate might be the most popular service, but it’s not the only one out there. The cultural gap of being able to simply talk to one another has definitely shifted closer to closed.

3. TVs

Bear with us a minute. We know you’re probably not giving up the big smart TV on your wall anytime soon. On the other hand, phones and tablets have liberated you from the need to have an actual TV set. Take a look around when you travel; Netlfix and its kin are available on your personal devices, giving you a massive range of program choices. You’re not even stuck with what’s on the hotel TV when you travel. Phones aren’t an absolute, outright TV killer, but the younger generations are definitely adjusting to watching on the smaller screen.

4. Travel Agents

Travel can be overwhelming, but smart phones let you do everything yourself. (Photo by Jan Vašek from Pixabay; Creative Commons)

We’re not encouraging the death of a profession, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that you can plan and purchase a trip by doing your own research and hitting a few buttons. That includes booking your hotel (or Airbnb), making your own travel arrangements, and planning itineraries all on your phone; there’s even a device at the boarding gate to scan the virtual ticket you have on your phone. In fact, some destinations all but require you work with your apps ahead of time; consider Disney, where you can manage your Fast Passes and meal purchases from your phone throughout the day.

5. Flashlights

If you’ve ever said, “I need a flashlight; hand me my phone,” then this one is incredibly self-evident.

6. Cash Registers

This might not be entirely true yet, but it’s getting there. The traditional register is getting smaller and smaller, driven in part by apps like Square, PayPal, and more. Square, among others, makes devices for turning your tablet into a mini-register, and other companies market similar compact devices for food trucks and other operations. The clunky, ringing register of the past is certainly fading.

7. Wallets

The increasingly popularity of “paying with your phone” via digital wallets points toward a time when people abandon physical wallets completely. Some people will always prefer to carry cash, but with store-specific apps replacing membership cards and built-in galleries and cloud storage taking the place of wallet photos, the billfold is definitely in danger of extinction.

8. Radio

Portable radios have been on a steady downward progression for decades. The old transistor got supplanted by the Walkman, which gave way to the Discman, which died on the hill of the iPod. Then, with no small irony, the iPod faded as smart phones took on the ability to play, store, and stream music. With the bulk of terrestrial radio stations available from I (Heart) Radio, and many other music player options available, the portable handheld radio is all but gone.

9. Cable Guides and TV Remote

The Roku app allows you to control your streaming services and Roku TV from your phone. (©Roku)

Today’s cable systems come equipped with remotes that access the laundry list of available channels, and those will remain standard for some time. However, those same cable systems have made flipping through the guide a bit less necessary with searchable apps that allow you to remotely set your DVR or even stream programming. Similarly, Smart TVs like the Roku also have remote apps that allow you to access settings or even perform standard channel and volume changing functions. With the final death of these pieces isn’t totally imminent, the ease with which you can make them irrelevant doesn’t say good things about their long-term survival.

10. Parental Math Anxiety

All parents have been there. Your child is doing homework, and they’re confronted with a particularly challenging math problem. You want to help, but it’s been at least a decade since you’ve given any thought to quadratic equations or finding the surface area of a rectangular solid. Assuming that you can remember or reason out how to do the problem, you’re still not certain that you’re right. That’s where apps like Photomath come in. You open the app, hold your phone as if you’re taking a picture of the problem, make sure you’ve got the whole problem in the box, and click. It gives you the answer. Parental Math Anxiety has been solved.

11. Rolling Dice

The online gaming community frequently posts videos evaluating dice rollers.

A non-scientific study (okay, a random observation) says that dice are the most easily lost component of board games. Fortunately, quite a few apps exist that allow you to roll virtual dice. Even more incredible, apps specifically tailored to the six dice of Dungeons & Dragons and the other specialty games that employ numerous and differently-sided dice are also available. It’s easy to see a time when game-makers simply tell you where to get the app for their game to save production costs and free up game mechanics.

12. Separate GPS Devices

As the advent of the separate GPS device slayed the bulky Atlas, so did various programs and apps dispense with the need for a separate device. Today, a number of apps are focused on getting you where you want to go, from Waze to CoPilot and beyond. Some still like Yahoo Maps or MapQuest (that’s a good one, too), but some say Google Maps is the best (true that, double true).

13. The Need to Hail a Cab

This one should be pretty obvious, but cabs are definitely fading. A cab driver in Washington D.C. told us recently that Uber and Lyft have taken more that 30% of his personal business. So while they’re not dead yet, the act of standing on the street and waving for one is certainly in decline. Hotels and airports still deal with the trade, and there are a plenty of apps to summon a taxi, but the rise of ride-shares and services you hit from your cell has certainly caused a quantum shift in how we pay to get around.

14. Other Phones

We normally only think of this in the context of the landline, but smart phones continue to shove other phone styles out of existence. While a few flip phones or regular-function cell phones are still sold, they’ve taken up less and less shelf space over the years. According to one study, over 80% of the U.S. population will be using a smart phone this year; that number is projected to be around 84% by 2022. As smart phones continue their inevitable takeover, one of the remaining questions we have is “What won’t the smart phone eventually replace?”

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