Technology has changed our lives, for better and for worse, and here are just a few examples of companies that have reinvented the way we do some completely ordinary things. This is by no means a complete list, as there are innumerable events in the App Age that have reshaped a number of our everyday activities. The companies on this list were not always the first to do what they have been credited with, but they certainly made it popular.
1. Paying for coffee
While buying a coffee or other drink on the road is nothing new, how some of us pay for it has changed. Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) has an in-app pay option, making it possible to buy a latte with just a smartphone in hand.
2. Ordering dinner
Back in the old days, if you wanted delivery of any cuisine, ordering by phone was the only way to go. Now, ordering online is an option thanks to websites like GrubHub (NYSE:GRUB), where participating local restaurants sign up to get your order.
3. Watching movies
It used to be that if you wanted to watch a movie, you better own it or see if the local Blockbuster had a copy available to rent. Now you can just check if it is on Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) and instantly stream it on your computer, gaming console, television, or even your mobile phone.
4. Finding quality services
Before, you could find anything you needed in the phone book, but it did not tell you the quality of the services listed. Yelp (NYSE:YELP) allows users to find businesses and leave reviews of the establishment. The catch? Buyer beware, because the business owners sometimes reply.
5. Finding a place to stay
While Hotels.com and Kayak fight it out for hotel deals online and in advertising, Airbnb has been quietly allowing users to turn their homes into quasi-hotels for cheap.
6. Catching a ride
While taxis are easy to flag down in some downtown areas, it gets harder outside those areas and later at night. Uber fills this gap by connecting people to rides so that they can get to their destination in a timely fashion at either 3 a.m. or 3 p.m. The company even provides contact information for the driver as well as notifications, so you don’t have to guess who your ride is.
7. Listening to music
Listening to the radio while working used to actually require a radio, which was exclusively over the airwaves, not the Internet. Now it’s online thanks in part to Spotify, which recently hit 10 million subscribers.
8. Getting places faster
Want to know where there’s going to be traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike when you’ve never driven through the state before? Just check Waze (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL), which gathers data as drivers commute with the app open, allowing it to let you know the traffic situation before you get to the bottleneck near Exit 8A.