The technological revolution may have passed more than a century ago, but the last few decades have seen a surge in everyday technological experimentation and advancements like never before. And since 2010, so many inventions have hit the market running that it’s been hard to keep track.
But whether they intended to or not, some of these products changed our everyday lives forever.
It’s never easy to predict exactly how impactful an invention is going to be – but some of these pot-stirrers were a real surprise hit, even to the world that embraced them. Whether or not their success has been the result of ingenious planning, blind luck, or some divinely inspired order being moved along by an invisible hand, these inventions had undeniable and long-lasting traction around the world – on people, the things they create, and the way we all think.
Technically, this private messaging app was launched in 2009, but its impact on the decade to follow makes it important to add to this list. Although it originally cost a $1 annual fee to use, it’s totally free today – and 1.6 billion users have jumped on the opportunity to benefit from its end-to-end encryption, while other tools try to copy it. In early 2014, Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion.
Uber (and Lyft, and other alternative cab services)
Hailing a taxi down by hand or trying to order one over the phone always came with a sense of uncertainty and discomfort – not to mention, holding onto the cash you needed to pay for one. But with an app that lets you order a cab, pay by card, and see the vehicle’s status every step of the way, transportation has never felt easier – plus, the prices were competitive with the classic taxi infrastructure. The invention completely changed the world of cab services, and today it has 75 million users and a presence in more than half the countries around the world. By 2018, alternative taxi app services had reached 160 million, topping regular taxi services which fell down to 125 million.
When Instagram hit our smartphones, it marketed itself as a kind of amateur photo filtering toy. But it quickly became so much more: an aesthetically pleasing chronology of a person’s most photo-worthy life moments, simpler and more straightforward than other social media, which gave it a gold social network status. It wasn’t long before it evolved into a monumentally profitable platform for businesses, brands, celebrities, and a monumentally addictive platform for anyone who cares about these things (that would be most people, it seems).
Apple iPhone 4S
Apple has been influential in a million ways, but this particular model of the iPhone launched in 2011 has since made its way into everyone’s home – even those who do not or have never had an iPhone themselves. That’s because its design included three new features that redefined the world of smartphones from that day forward: Siri, iCloud, and a camera with unseen photo and video potential. When’s the last time you saw a digital camera? Now you know why.
Tesla Model S
Even though it wasn’t the first all-electric car, the tesla brought two important things to the auto industry and culture: luxury and a vision for the future. With all the eyes on this company after its first super successful EV, they have made sure that the world knows that they are working on future solutions – and have already developed many other things in the realm. Tesla continues to manufacture revolutionary electric products and take its leadership role seriously.