Things We Use All the Time That Didn't Exist 15 Years Ago

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One Glowing, Energy Efficient Lightbulb Laying Next to Six Older Version Incandescent Lightbulbs, on a Dark Green Wooden Table Background
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The Future Is Now

We may not be zipping around with rockets on our backs, but life in 2022 is still remarkably different than it was just 15 years ago — and believe it or not, the iPhone is celebrating its 15th anniversary. 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 around some 15 years ago.

Related: Products You Never Thought Would be Obsolete

A White Amazon Echo Plus on a Artisanal Wooden Table, with a Glass of Water and a Potted Plant Behind It

Amazon Alexa

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 momma" joke.

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Cheerful Young Man Using a Smartphone While Sitting on a Ledge in the City, Middle of the Image

Facebook Messenger

Hundreds of millions of people across the planet use Facebook's messaging platform, which the company released in 2011. Meta's free service is especially dominant in India, Brazil, and Mexico, though Messenger still boasts millions of North American users. Unlike text messaging services, people can communicate for free with worldwide users, making the service practical for immigrants and tourists.

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Netflix Originals

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 — over 2,000 original titles in 2020 — that it's even gotten some pushback that it's too much.

Related: Which Streaming Service Gives You the Most Bang for Your Buck?

Ring Video Doorbell 4

Smart Doorbells

In 2013, Jamie Siminoff crowdfunded the smart doorbell device that Amazon would acquire five years later for over $1 billion. Today, Siminoff's video doorbell is known as Ring, and it seems like every other house in the suburbs has one — for better or worse.

Selective Focus of Takeout Chopsticks Holding Chow Mein, Woman Looking at Smartphone with a Red Case
Selective Focus of a Portable Powerbank Charging a Smartphone Blurred on a Wooden Table


When USB-C came onto the scene in 2014, it revolutionized how we transfer data and charge devices. To give you an idea of how dominant USB-C is, just look to the European Union, which is planning to force companies to use USB-C charging ports starting in 2024. (That means Apple's lightning cable may not be long for this world).

Smiling Young Woman Checks Over Eggs and Vegetables in a Box From a Delivery, in Her Kitchen


Don't feel like getting off the couch for a few last minute groceries? 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.

Related: Ways to Save at the Grocery Store

Closeup of TikTok App on the Screen of an Apple iPhone XR, Next to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube Apps in the Pop-Up Window
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Since TikTok's arrival in 2016, it's completely transformed the social media landscape, pushing other platforms to adopt short-form video content. Even the Meta-owned tech giant Instagram has changed its focus in the wake of TikTok's rise — and some people are upset.

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HelloFresh SE
Slack Interface on MacOS, Acme Sites, with Several Channels and Direct Messages
Closeup of a 7th Gen Apple iPad Gold, on Top of It's White Box

Apple iPads

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 $300.

Woman Wearing a Red Fitbit Flex on Her Wrist, Showing Her Hand and Top of Arm


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.

Related: 103 Tech Products That Will Make Your Life Easier

Focus on Man Holding Barack Obama Instagram Photos Feed on Screen of an Apple iPhone X 10, While Seating on a Couch, Showing His Lap


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.

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Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker
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Woman's Hands Holding a Smartphone with Airbnb App Opened While Sitting in the Driver's Seat in a Car, Selective Focus


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 2019, there were an estimated 187 million bookings.

Related: 50 Amazing Airbnbs and VRBOs Across the Country

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Pinterest in Safari Browser on a White 3rd Gen iPad, Selective Focus


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, the research firm Statista says it has more than 440 million monthly users who are pinning ideas on everything from going gray gracefully to how to make homemade jam.

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Ultra High-Definition TVs

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.

Ninja AF101 Air Fryer, Black/Grey

Air Fryers

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. According to the NPD Group, almost 10 million air fryers sold between late May 2017 and mid-March 2019. Sales also spiked during the pandemic.

Related: 40 Cheap Air Fryer Recipes to Cut Calories Not Flavor

The Nest Learning Thermostat in Away Mode, Chrome Colored

Smart Thermostats

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.

Related: 5 Projects That Boost Home Value — and 5 Cheap Alternatives

Sideview of the Top of a Young Man Smiling as He Is Using His Smartphone, Holding It in His Right Hand, Standing Against a Large Drawing


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, Tinder says it sends users on 1.5 million dates a week.

Left Hand Holding a Smartphone with the Venmo App Opened on the Screen in the Middle of the Image


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.

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Android Phones

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.

Man's Hands Changing an Old-School Light Bulb with a New LED Light Bulb, New Bulb Is Lit and Screwed In
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Cheap LED Bulbs

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.

Related: 50 Money-Saving Energy Tips for Winter

Sideview of a Young Woman Laying on a Couch with a Laptop on Her Lap, She Is Looking at the Laptop

Online Thrift Stores

Although people have been selling their clothing on eBay for years, it was only in the 2010s that trendy, peer-to-peer thrift stores began to pop up online. We're thinking of household names such as DePop, Grailed, Poshmark, and thredUP, all of which were conceived within the past 15 years.

Closeup of the First iPhone on Display Under Glass and a Brightly-Lit Light at the January 2007 Macworld Show
Closeup of the First iPhone on Display Under Glass and a Brightly-Lit Light at the January 2007 Macworld Show by ArnoldReinhold (CC BY-SA)