21 Things We Use All the Time That Didn't Exist 10 Years Ago
We may not be zipping around with rockets on our backs, but life in 2019 is still remarkably different than it was even a decade ago. Of course, much of that is thanks to the internet, which has weaseled its way into almost every corner of our lives. Given how fast technology evolves, some items on this list will no doubt bite the dust in another decade or two, but for now, here are things we use on the regular that weren't even around 10 years ago.
Everyone's favorite tablet actually didn't hit the market until 2010, a few years after techies first got their hands on the first iPhone. The first version, hailed by Apple as a "magical and revolutionary device" for web browsing, started at $499 for a model with a now-paltry 16GB of storage; today, you can get one with double the storage for just $329.
If you find yourself telling Alexa to turn off the lights, tell you the weather, or play you a song, keep in mind that this virtual assistant was, well, virtually unheard of just a few short years ago. Amazon's first Alexa-enabled device, the Echo, wasn't widely available until 2015. Today, the number of devices that use Alexa has exploded, and you can even ask her to tell you a "yo mamma" joke.
Remember when whipping up a home-cooked meal required a grocery list and a trip to an actual grocery store? Today, any number of meal-kit companies will drop everything you need for an impressive dinner right on your doorstep. Familiar names like Hello Fresh, Plated, and Blue Apron didn't start helping out home cooks until 2012.
Wrist-based fitness trackers have become an industry in their own right, but it wasn't so long ago that the closest we came to the concept was a low-tech pedometer or an unwieldy heart-rate strap. Fitbit, the company that really ignited the wearable trend, didn't launch its first fitness tracker until the end of 2009.
The app that has made social-media sharing a largely visual experience wasn't rolled out until 2010, when its founders began posting their heavily filtered, square-framed photos in earnest. The gambit paid off big time, as Facebook would later snap up its growing competitor for $1 billion in cash and stock.
Winking at someone from across the bar, or even composing a lengthy online dating profile, seems downright quaint in this age of swiping right or left. But Tinder didn't start upending the online dating industry until its launch in 2012. Today, the app says it facilitates 1.6 billion swipes a day and sends users on 1 million dates a week.
This trendy all-in-one pressure cooker (and slow cooker, and rice cooker, and steamer) is suddenly everywhere, but it wasn't invented until 2010. Sales got off to a modest start, too, with just 1,000 sold in 2011, but they've more than doubled every year since then. And in 2017, it was the most wished-for item on Amazon.
For many travelers, Airbnb has become a welcome alternative to pricey hotel rooms, but it was barely getting started a decade ago. Airbnb was founded in 2008, and the founders even resorted to hawking election-themed cereals (Obama O's and Cap'n McCains) to keep the site going. In 2009, just 1,400 guests used it for their New Year's accommodations, but you could say business has taken off: In 2017, that number was more than 3 million.
"If your smartphone seems more like a slow phone, hang in there," Wired told readers back in 2010. "The next generation of wireless technologies, known as 4G, promises blazing-fast data transmission speeds." From there, it only took five years for 98 percent of Americans to gain access to 4G LTE — that's an even faster type of 4G.
This online pin board for recipes, crafts, articles, and anything else you want to save while browsing the web was founded in 2008, but didn't launch in anything approaching its current form until 2009. Today, it has more than 250 million monthly users who are pinning ideas on everything from going gray gracefully to how to make homemade jam.
Not long ago, you were lucky if your favorite non-pizza restaurant delivered, especially outside of major cities. Now you can have just about any type of cuisine your heart desires ferried to your door in under an hour. GrubHub was founded in 2004 but didn't offer its own delivery services until 2015, while DoorDash didn't launch until 2013.
Time to pay your friend back for covering dinner? Need to chip in for an expensive cab fare? You need Venmo, of course. This quick, painless, social-media-savvy way to send and receive payments with a smartphone didn't receive any investor backing until the end of 2009. But it all worked out when the 800-pound gorilla of digital payments, PayPal, acquired Venmo during part of a larger deal in 2014.
You probably remember when Netflix was known for sending DVDs in the mail, not streaming content. Founded in 1997, Netflix didn't make the leap into streaming for a decade. Even then, it was all content produced elsewhere — you couldn't binge Netflix original programming until 2013, with the debut of "House of Cards." Now, Netflix produces so much content — some 1,000 original titles in 2018 — that it's even starting to receive some pushback that it's too much.
Air fryers are right up there with the Instant Pot as the must-have small appliance of the past few years. But this healthier way to enjoy some of your favorite guilty pleasures, from chicken wings to mozzarella sticks, is also a relatively new invention. Philips was the first brand to unveil the technology in 2010 and says it has sold more than 7 million air fryers since then.
No time to grocery shop? Not a problem these days with services like Instacart, where someone else will grab everything on your list and bring it right to your door. The service, which didn't launch until 2012, has formidable partners including Aldi, Kroger, and Costco that are using it in their battle to compete on grocery delivery with Amazon.
If you have a newer television, chances are high that it's ultra high definition, otherwise known as 4K (so named because the displays have four times the pixel resolution of a standard high-definition set). Ultra high-definition TVs started taking hold around 2015, about a decade after we were first wowed with standard high-definition sets. What's next? Maybe 8K TVs, but expect it to be a while before mere mortals can afford them.
Believe it or not, we've only been connecting our thermostats to the internet for about a decade. The first smart thermostat, from Ecobee, hit the market in 2009. The biggest name in smart thermostats, Nest, got in the game with its first-generation "learning thermostat" — different because it adjusts itself to save homeowners money — in late 2011.
At many companies, e-mail inboxes are finally emptying out thanks to Slack, a workplace chat platform that lets coworkers communicate more easily, and more importantly, in real time. Released in 2014, Slack has seen exponential growth and now counts 8 million active daily users across a staggering half-million organizations.
If you're a smartphone user who has resisted the siren song of Apple, chances are high that your phone runs on an Android operating system. Big names including Samsung, Sony and LG power their phones with Android, which was snapped up by Google in 2005. But even then, it would still be a few more years before an Android phone hit the market to compete with the iPhone.
Invented in the '60s, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) are nothing new. But making LED technology cheap and efficient enough to replace incandescent light bulbs? That process took quite a while. We've only seen widespread adoption of LEDs over the past decade, during which time the cost of LED bulbs has plummeted 85 percent, according to the Department of Energy.
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