A decade ago, none of these apps and products existed.
From skyrocketing ownership of smartphones to simple ideas that have turned industries belly-side up, digital products and services have drastically changed our lives over the last 10 years.
Customer-focused technology has frequently built off previous inventions, created immense wealth and made our lives more connected, convenient and — at times — confusing.
Here are some of the most noteworthy milestones.
Social media and apps
Pinterest and Instagram launched in 2010. From do-it-yourself crafts to social media stars earning livings off their photos and videos, these apps have shown us that magazine-worthy content and realities don’t just have to be on our wish lists. While they’ve pulled out our need for creativity and beauty, they’ve also tapped into our vintage psyches with cooking, adventure and connections.
Snapchat launched in 2011. Whether you’ve used the app or not, this social media service has been influencing our culture with people being connected within 24-hour replies to keep up Snapstreaks and more. The app’s innovations have also been leading users and advertisers to vertical storytelling, and perhaps we could all sleep a little better if messages besides snaps were automatically deleted.
Tinder started in 2012. Online dating has become ever more prevalent and so has Tinder’s influence on our culture. Swiping “left” or “right” on mobile phones to show disinterest or interest has entered our lexicon, and dating apps have mirrored this model for how people find love.
Uber in 2010 and Lyft in 2012. These dominant car-hailing services have been bristling against the taxi industry as people have turned their personal vehicles into a way to bring in money, and passengers now have an abundance of options. While legal problems, particularly cases of sexual assault, have affected both companies, the companies have responded with changes and prompted people to demand accountability and raise awareness on safety.
Vine in 2013 and TikTok in 2017. Short videos featuring silly content, lip-syncing music and more have made others, including the social media behemoth Facebook, take note, with the Mark Zuckerberg-led site going as far as creating a competitor app called Lasso to lure users back. TikTok’s acquisition of musical.ly has also helped the Chinese app’s parent company become even more valuable than Uber.
Making credit card readers commonplace. Financial payment services through Square became available to public vendors in 2010, helping level the playing field for small businesses everywhere, from coffee shops to food trucks. While it started off allowing one’s mobile phone to be used to scan credit cards, a later version that’s become commonplace is the company’s swiveling Square Stand, which works with the iPad.
Helping consumer drones soar. A milestone for commercial drones, according to trade publications, came in 2010 when French company Parrot released a drone that could be controlled with an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad. While the devices existed before that, the products have been becoming more available for use in everything from rescue efforts to moviemaking and news reporting.
Bringing the future of headset VR to today. A teen’s virtual reality prototype in 2010 led to Facebook announcing in 2014 that it would acquire the technology for $2 billion, making its Oculus Rift contend in a new kind of entertainment battle. Video game consoles have made VR headset attachments, and as the technology becomes more commonplace, it’s having positive effects on everything from education to health care.
Bringing technology to pedestrians. Self-balancing scooters had a breakthrough in 2013 when Shane Chen created a Kickstarter for the device. Similar to the Segway that was invented more than a decade before this new version, many people reported these kinds of devices — frequently referred to as “hoverboards” — lighting on fire.
Syncing your home with virtual assistant Alexa. Amazon Echo was launched in 2014, allowing people to change music and temperature setting and make calls from their home, all with the sound of one’s voice. Although privacy concerns have been raised, the devices have given people not just convenience but another layer of safety, such as improving access to services for certain senior citizens.
iPad released in 2010. Even though Amazon’s Kindle was released in 2007, Apple’s version has become the dominant player, and hundreds of millions of iPads were sold in the last decade. Among their uses, they’re being used in classrooms for learning, on airplanes for pilots’ manuals and in hospitals for helping patients.
The “Pokémon GO” phenomenon started in 2016. Augmented reality, where simulated graphics overlap with real life, had a surge in popularity with this franchise, especially known for its video and card games. The app opened up our world to these fictional creatures, where people hunt them with their phones and seek to catch numerous and rare finds.
Disney+ launched in 2019. After The Walt Disney Co. acquired 21st Century Fox in March for $71 billion, allowing it to bring movies and shows to its entourage, Disney’s new streaming service debuted in November, setting up a battle against Netflix and others.