Smartphones were once the best thing to happen to the tech industry — and for a while, it seemed, to all of us, too. In the 11 years since the iPhone made its debut, smartphones have subsumed just about every other gadget and altered every business, from news to retail to taxis to television, ultimately reordering everything about how we understand media, politics and reality itself.
But now that smartphones have achieved dominance, revolution is again in the air.
Global smartphone sales are plateauing for a very obvious reason: Pretty much anyone who can afford one already has one, and increasingly there are questions about whether we are using our phones too much and too mindlessly. At Google’s and Apple’s recent developer conferences, executives took the stage to show how much more irresistible they were making our phones. Then each company unveiled something else: Software to help you use your phone a lot less.