Portable GPS Navigation Devices
Why buy a separate GPS device for your car when your smartphone can perform the same tasks? Portable navigation hardware from major GPS players such as Garmin, Magellan, and TomTom are have grown more powerful and more affordable, but GPS-enabled smartphones deliver similar functionality. Interestingly, GPS vendors may be contributing to the demise of their portable devices by offering apps like Garmin's StreetPilot, which provides turn-by-turn directions for smartphone users. Hey, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)
It manages your contacts! It has a to-do list! It tracks expenses! Yes, the PDA was a handy contrivance back in the day when a 25-pound desktop PC and a 50-pound CRT monitor seemed welded to every workstation. But as cellphones began to acquire PDA capabilities in 2001, it became obvious that the phoneless digital assistant's days were numbered. Today, the term "PDA" sounds as anachronistic as "Pocket PC." Then again, today's smartphones are pocket PCs, aren't they?
Ever see a twenty-something rocking a wristwatch as a necessity, rather than as a fashion accessory? Probably not. The smartphone has become the 21st Century pocket watch, while the wristwatch has become, well, your father's timepiece. This may change, however, if tech-savvy watchmakers succeed in rekindling consumer interest in the arm-ready timekeeper. In fact, the wristwatch's resurgence may already be underway, at least in some geek circles. Sony introduced an Android-based wristwatch last year, and some clever techies have managed to turn the multitouch iPod Nano into a watch.
When's the last time you bought a paper map? Do you still use them? A smartphone devotee may unfold a map every now and then, but only as a navigational tool of last resort. Mobile map apps from Google, MapQuest, and Bing provide directions, satellite images, and search tools that paper can't match. But it's wise to keep a paper map on hand as a backup, especially if you're driving in an area where wireless signals are weak. And GPS mapping tools have been known to give bad directions every once in a while.
411 Directory Assistance
A recent New York Times article lamented the lost art of the phone call, but what about the 411 call? A savvy smartphone user is more likely to access free online tools such as Google's voice search than to make a traditional directory-assistance call. Old habits die hard, however. According to a Snopes.com from October 2010, U.S. consumers were still placing about 6 billion calls to 411 services per year, even though phone companies had switched to charging $1 or more per call. Nevertheless, the directory assistance of the future seems likely to be automated, online, and (maybe) free.