When was the last time you used an alarm clock? NIKHIL VARMA lists the number of goods and practices that have been rendered obsolete thanks to smartphones

Earlier, when you landed in a city, one of the first things you did was buy a map to find your way around.

You scoured classified advertisements in newspapers to look for places to stay and took up local phone plans and more often than not bought an alarm clock to ensure that you do end up waking up late for college/work.

The more meticulous among us even jotted daily expenditure lists in diaries, setting up budget lists and sorting out the net share among roommates for expenses on a monthly basis. Then everything changed. The advent of the smartphone and high speed internet has rendered most of these instruments and activities obsolete.

Pranav Gupta is an advertising professional, who came to Bangalore a year ago. He says, “I had no clue about the city. I had a few friends but that was it. However, with the aid of an android powered phone, I had a rough idea of the distance from the station to my friends’ house and was also able to book a cab using an online app.”

He adds, “Thanks to the maps and navigation facilities most phones provide, I have never felt the need for a city map. As far as accommodation was concerned, I relied on Facebook groups. I found a nice house and did not have to haggle with brokers. These maps also help me direct auto drivers in parts of the city I am not very familiar with.”

Smita Patel says that her phone has rendered the phone book obsolete.

“I had a habit of jotting down numbers of everyone I talked to. I used to save visiting cards. I hardly jot down names in the phone book anymore. I prefer using mail ids instead of visiting cards to connect with people.”

However, there is a flipside to the story. “It is a massive problem if the phone crashes or the memory card becomes corrupt. I now make a backup of my contact lists,” Smita says adding “Another problem I face is that I am seldom away from the hustle-bustle of the workplace. Even on vacation, I get mails and texts constantly.” Advertising professional Joseph Thomas contends that alarm clocks are the biggest casualty of the tech boom.

“I do not remember using an alarm clock in the last decade. I use the maps application quite a lot. It ensures that I do not have to ask for directions constantly and do not get lost. I do not use a watch and rely on my phone for the time. I seldom bother with a paper calendar too.”

Thomas says that the fact that almost everything can be done at the touch of the button is a sign of development.

“Smartphones are available for Rs.4,000 onwards. All of them offer basic functions and more. Even old phones that did not offer any of these facilities are now redundant.” Architect Keshav Prasad credits the mobile and internet revolution for the ability to bank online. “It is convenient and ensures that you do not have to keep huge amounts with you. It gives you the option to pay all your bills without moving out of your desk.”