The 2010s: 6 essential technologies that didn’t exist 10 years ago, from WhatsApp to Deliveroo

The 2010s: 6 essential technologies that didn’t exist 10 years ago, from WhatsApp to Deliveroo

Netflix, mobile payments, blockchain ... we wonder how we ever survived without them

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Food delivery is a booming business.
Photo: Nora Tam/SCMP

As difficult as you may think life is sometimes, when put into perspective, you must admit we have it pretty sweet these days. We can pay for food with a tap of a card or even have it delivered straight to our door, then proceed to choose what to watch during dinner from the thousands of movies and TV series on Netflix. And if you can’t decide, you can always ask your group of friends on WhatsApp for recommendations.

Here are a few things we can’t believe we lived without a decade ago.

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WhatsApp

How did we ever get our messages across without a series of emojis, stickers and a selfie? Modern messaging apps like Whatsapp really helped us up our texting game. The platform also gave us the ability to easily create group chats and respond to specific messages with a swipe of a finger.

The best thing? It’s all free! If you’re connected to free Wi-fi, you can send entire photo albums or video chat to your friend overseas for hours without paying a cent. Long gone are the days when you had to be careful about how many characters you used in an SMS to keep your phone bill down, thank goodness!

Mobile payments

Hong Kong had Octopus, and many countries followed with their own version, like Oyster in Britain. Octopus allows us to put money onto a card and then use the card to pay for things, without the transaction going through a bank account. With the rise of the smart phone, it was only a matter of time before Octopus-like cards turned into apps and the mobile payment was born. No need to fumble through your purse to get the exact amount of cash; just wave your phone, and voila! Now the technology is moving on to facial recognition payments. But not everyone is comfortable with this idea.

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Cryptocurrency

It’s like money, but not. While money and the value of money had been firmly in the hands of bankers and governments, cryptocurrency put it into the hands of ordinary people. So now, people can exchange money digitally without going through a bank. First there was Bitcoin. And it took a lot to understand it. Governments and banks were not happy. China tried to ban it. Now China is working on its own cryptocurrency.

Virtual reality

Can you imagine that 10 years ago, people could only live in reality? How boring is that? Now, we can venture into mystic medieval lands, futuristic space stations, or haunted mansions infested with zombies.

All you have to do is put on a VR headset and the next second, you’re fighting off bots in outer space or hanging out with your pals Mario and Luigi. Perhaps in the next decade we’ll be able to not only see and hear things from the virtual world, but feel, smell and taste things, too, all at the same time!

The next best thing in technology

Food delivery

Before Deliveroo and FoodPanda, people had to rummage through their collection of menu pamphlets to find the number of the restaurant they wanted to order from. Then you had to grab your wallet to pay for your food when it finally arrived. Now, you don’t have to worry about having the right amount of cash on you, and you have endless choices to choose from on one screen. You can also keep track of how far your food is from its destination. There are even companies that will prepare your food for the day and deliver it straight to your home. It’s like outsourcing your diet!

Netflix

In the dark ages, there was Paid TV, like NOW TV, where you paid to subscribe to one single channel, and paid more for each additional channel. There were a lot of reruns. Trust us, a LOT of reruns. And if you were in the middle of a movie and needed to go the bathroom, then you’d either miss the crucial part of the show, or, er, suffer. Also, there was no choice. You had to watch whatever the company wanted to schedule for that time. Then, Netflix happened, and put the choice in our hands. No more reruns. No more toilet break dilemmas.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Everything at your fingertips

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