An incomplete list of everyday items that have been replaced by my iPhone

I noticed my alarm clock sitting forlornly on my bedside table last night as I was going to sleep. It got me thinking about all the things I no longer use. Sure, we all know that CDs have been replaced by mp3s and VCRs have been replaced by DVRs and DVDs. But there is a whole pile of things that have been replaced by just my iPhone.

Take a look:

  • Alarm Clock
    I haven’t used my alarm clock in years. I never use the alarm clocks in hotel rooms, either. The alarm clock — and the countdown timer and stopwatch — all have wonderfully loud alerts that wake me better than any alarm clock ever did. And, as a bonus, they are always with me.
  • Business Cards
    I used to always have a few in my wallet, and I used to always collect them when I met people. Now I either enter details right into my iPhone’s contact list or I email someone my contact information in two seconds.
  • Nintendo Gameboy
    I used to always have Tetris in my backpack in case I got bored. Now I have 25+ games handy all the time.
  • Wristwatch
    I wear one to the gym to time my rest between sets, and every now and then I’ll wear one when I go for a run But the stopwatch on my iPhone works just fine, too. If I wear a watch now it’s pretty much just as a piece of jewelry, like a necklace or an earring. I don’t need it.
  • Calendars
    My dad gave me a calendar for Christmas this year. Each month has a different photo of him. It’s really cool, but it’s the first physical calendar I’ve had in years. Who needs a one-year calendar hanging on the wall when you can have your entire schedule, with meetings and to-do items and birthdays and everything — in your pocket and synchronized in real-time all the time?
  • Answering Machine
    Remember them? The little microcassettes? Yeah, I don’t miss them either. Visual voicemail on my iPhone is infinitely better than any answering machine I ever had.
  • Calculator
    When is the last time you actually saw a calculator?
  • Camera
    I have a fantastic Canon Powershot SD1000 Digital ELPH camera that has sat in the drawer of my desk, batteries drained, ignored and unused for over a year now. Why carry that thing anywhere when the camera in my iPhone takes great pictures and is always in my pocket?
  • Notepads and Pens
    I had an absurd fascination with pens up until a few years ago. I used to always have a pen (or two!) on my person. I would no sooner leave the house without a pen in my pocket than I would walk out the door without sunglasses or my car keys or wallet. Now if I need to write something I just enter it in Notes and it automatically synchronizes with my computer later. I go for weeks at a time now without remembering to put a pen in my pocket.
  • iPod
    Yes, sure, I still have an iPod (and a Nano) that I use for running and, every now and then, on airplanes. But I can go for months at a time without using either of them. I listen to music on my iPhone almost daily.
  • Maps and a Thomas Guide
    The people that publish the Thomas Guide must either have gone out of business years ago or are now just spending every afternoon in a bar somewhere drinking themselves silly with remorse. When I moved to LA a decade ago, everyone had a Thomas Guide. People that had lived here their whole lives had a Thomas Guide in the car. (LA is a pretty big and confusing city.) A few weeks ago I noticed that I hadn’t seen a Thomas Guide on someone’s back seat in years. I mean, seriously, these things went from being an absolute requirement for everyone in a city of 14 million people to completely GONE.
  • Cell Phone
    Obviously my iPhone replaced my previous cell phone, but it’s worth mentioning because I don’t even think of my iPhone as a “phone”, really. It’s more like some crazy, 22nd-century, hyper-advanced super gizmo that does anything I need it to do.

There is one comment on this post

  1. In total agreement, with the following two exceptions:

    Answering Machine: I tend to save voicemails, & VV on the iPhone doesn’t seem to give you more than a few weeks’ shelf life. I opted to turn off VV, & instead have Unified Communications, where every VM is automatically stored online & emailed to me as a WAV file, allowing faxes, emails & VMs to go to my inbox.

    Camera: Still not happy w/the iPhone for night photos due to lack of flash.

    Also, any opinion the “Bump” app? Love the idea of tapping iphones to instantly exchange contact info but so few ppl I meet have the app installed.

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What Is This? is the personal weblog of me, David Vincent Gagne. I've been publishing here since 1999, which makes this one of the oldest continuously-updated websites on the Internet.

A few years ago I was trying to determine what cocktails I could make with the alcohol I had at home. I searched the App Store but couldn't find an app that would let me do that, so I built one.


You can read dozens of essays and articles and find hundreds of links to other sites with stories and information about Ernest Hemingway in The Hemingway Collection.