How Mobile have changed the way we travel for Better or Worse

These insights adapted from a recent Skift article highlight how mobile especially the iPhone has changed the way we travel.

10 years ago, the advent of global positioning system (GPS) into mobile phones like Nokia N95 leap frogged mobile telephony into the era of mobile location. Then came the iPhone which completely changed the user experience which in turn changed the way we travel.

Firstly, the ability to have location on your phone changed navigation and getting around a city. No longer do we need to refer to paper maps when today we are guided by the glowing blue dot through unfamiliar neighborhoods in new cities. The first iPhone 10 years back lacked GPS capabilities but used telecommunications towers and wi-fi network locations. The iPhone thus launched the ability to have better, location-aware recommendations as we moved around, highlighting interesting to-dos and points of interest when travelling in a city.

For business travelers seeking an intimate connection to home, the advent of FaceTime on the phone took the grainy Skype sessions into the real world, and created a new level of intimacy while abroad. The voice on the other line suddenly came alive with facial gestures, emotion and immediacy, as if they were in the other room.

The hardware and evolving software on the iPhone also removed friction for travelers in immeasurable ways. With the launch of the Apple app store in July 2008, travelers have since then obtain access to a whole array of useful programs to help us purchase and organize trips better. Mobile applications like Foursquare and Trip Advisor also introduced us to travel recommendations and allow us to provide feedback for discovery by others later.

Of course, one can’t discuss the iPhone without talking about photography and how it has brought a level of picture quality to everyday occurrences. As someone smart once said, “the best camera is the one with you.” The rise of Instagram and Face Book coupled with mobile phones, travel and how it is documented have changed significantly for the good with a huge array of beautiful photos tagged to every square inch of the earth.

The good comes with the bad as it seems like public image making and social projection have become more important than depth of experience for many. This is accompanied by increased distraction and fragmentation of the attention span. It is no longer enough to sit out in a cafe watching the world pass, or to day dream in a quiet park. The iPhone beckons us whenever we have an idle moment, forcing us to miss some of the things or experiences that make travel so beautiful. The need to be connected virtually sadly disconnects us with reality and diminishes our ability to appreciate the beauty around us. That’s the paradox.

Source: Adapted from Skift