As we just saw, productivity software ties together your contacts and calendar so you don't need a written address or appointment book. When there's no written record, however, you need some electronic device that lets you take the data anywhere you go. When laptop computers were too large and heavy to be convenient, personal digital assistants (PDAs) brought productivity applications to a handheld device. As both PDAs and mobile phones became more powerful and popular throughout the 1990s, a mashup of these technologies seemed inevitable. Today, we call that mashup a smartphone.
A modern smartphone goes way beyond productivity software in making our lives easier. By connecting to wireless Internet services, smartphones have become a quick way to access more information than what's stored on the device. For example, when you're out at dinner with friends, you can look up the name of an actress in a movie you're talking about. Also, by including a global positioning device, a smartphone can tell you where you are and how to get where you want to go.
Smartphones continue to develop, and even the most novice programmer can learn to create software applications for them. As a result, there are thousands of applications (or apps), both free and at cost, available to download directly to your smartphone. These applications make smartphones the ultimate mashup as users download software for numerous different tasks, from tracking diet plans and logging gas mileage to taking photos and playing music, videos and games.
A smartphone can keep you informed and in touch when you're on the go, but our last technology mashup is all about how you might get there.