December 28 is National Download Day. Once slow and cumbersome, smartphones have become a ubiquitous part of our lives. It’s hard to imagine going anywhere without our phones, which now also serve as cameras, maps, guidebooks, banks, personal assistants, and entertainment centers.
Most of these extra functions are accessed through downloadable apps — programs designed for mobile phones that streamline specific functions. You can find thousands of free and paid apps for your mobile device including productivity boosters, games, photo editing software, and shopping apps. You can even connect apps to wearable technology to monitor your heart rate, distance walked, and more.
History of National Download Day
Modern cell phones are less phones and more tiny, portable computers. In fact, when’s the last time you actually made a phone call on your mobile device? Most of our screen time is spent on apps — software designed for smartphones that lets us do everything from play games to make banking transactions.
The first cell phones were just that: phones. Early mobile users had to charge their phones for about 10 hours, and were limited to 30 minutes of phone calls a day. These rudimentary devices didn’t have the power or battery life to handle more complex tasks.
Needless to say, our screen time has gone up a bit since those days. Today, the average mobile phone user has 60 to 90 apps installed on their phone.
When mobile phones got smaller and more powerful, they began their transition from a phone and messaging device to a pocket computer that can do everything your PC can. Apple’s iPhone arguably ushered in a new era for apps, as its large, multi-touch display, digital keyboard, and fully functional web browser opened up new possibilities for what can be done on a phone.
In addition to the iPhone, Apple also changed the game when the App Store, a one-stop shop for digital apps, went online in 2008. In 2010, the American Dialect Society named “app” its word of the year, acknowledging how embedded it had become in American culture.
Today, one in five people around the world has a smartphone, and 85% of users say they prefer their mobile devices to desktop computers.