Generations from now, we'll tell our grandchildren tales of forgotten places, lost to time, called "Circuit City," "RadioShack," and "Nobody Beats the Wiz." Unfortunately for them (but luckily for you), every single item they sell is now available in that little metal box inside your pants, primarily for the low, low price of absolutely nothing.
The sheer amount of practical products that have been consolidated into your smartphone is nothing less than mind-boggling, with apps, built-in devices, and modern technology taking over so many items and gadgets we previously had to fork out our hard-earned cash-moneys for. Here are 33 things that, for all intents and purposes, you'll never need to buy again—thanks to your iPhone, Steve Jobs, and American ingenuity at its finest. Or something like that...
1. Guitar tuner
As someone who has personally lost their guitar tuner over 100 times, apps like the stellar (and free!) Guitar Tuna are a godsend. Unfortunately, your stripped-down rendition of Redemption Song will still be horribly embarrassing to you, and your peers.
2. Bubble level
A bubble level (or spirit level) is one of those things that's never around when you need it (unless you are a dad or a carpenter), but you really should own if you want to be considered a fully functional adult. Make everything in your crooked life straight again with apps like iHandy Level, and never worry about rummaging through your non-existent toolbox again.
Though it may seem obvious, up until a few years ago, every family still needed a camcorder to record birthdays, bar mitzvahs, and all other traumatic, coming-of-age experiences. Those days are gone. With the HD camera included in your iPhone, you can log every embarrassing moment you see on the fly, and even in delicious slow motion.
4. Stud finder
Surprisingly, a stud finder is not a GPS that tracks my every movement—it's a tool used by handy people to locate metal studs behind walls, generally for hanging purposes. It sounds like something your drunk cousin would tell you, but the iPhone really has a built-in metal detector accessible with apps like Stud Find, that can competently fill in for a standard stud finder. Now keep in mind this app only detects metal studs, but I assure you IT DOES WORK. Download it (fo' free) and put the top of your phone up to any magnetic metal. Wow your friends. Impress the ladies. Ride into the sunset.
With brilliant apps like the Genius PDF Scanner, you can use your phone's HD camera to scan receipts and important docs, or candidly steal the identities of your friends and enemies. Copy anything you want and save it in convenient PDF form—easily sharable, printable, or transferable.
6. Alarm clock
With a bounty of customization options and no limits on frequency or amount of alarms, your phone's built-in alarm clock app easily tops any other option out there. But remember, hit snooze at your own risk, people.
7. Music players and CDs
Walkmans, Discmans, and even iPods have been rendered obsolete by the all-powerful iPhone—with its streaming and iTunes combo replacing most people's physical collections. Though I love my vinyl (and it's making a comeback), I couldn't be happier with the infinite music supply at my literal fingertips, 24/7.
8. Address books
Like disco, bell-bottoms, and rampant sexism, "the little black book" is something that pops up in old movies and television that resonates as comically antiquated in the 21st century. Though it seems silly, think of it this way: before your digital contact list, how would you keep track of your friends/family/Tinder hookups? The little black book was a bachelor's bible, now it's as tired as John Travolta in his last 10 movies.
Print isn't fully dead, but it's not exactly thriving at the moment. The publications that have managed to survive have figured out people today would rather scan the news on their phones, rather than unfold the Origami-like sections of the Journal and Times, and have adjusted accordingly—effectively bringing news into the digital realm, where most people consume it.
If you've bought a pocket calculator in the last five years, you may not be fit to manage your own finances—unless you are just trying to spell "8008135," which is still hilarious.
11. Personal libraries
Though about half of readers still prefer physical books to their digital brethren, e-books are booming, and you can store a veritable personal library of 'em in that little machine of yours. Having a folder full of novels is certainly not as sexy as a wall full of books in your pad (though it certainly leaves you with more room for activities), and half the fun of public reading is showing strangers how smart you are, while e-books remain anonymous to others. If you pretend to read Infinite Jest on a crowded subway train and no one sees you doing so, is it even worth pretending to read it at all?
12. Portable games
As the hardcore gamer might attest, with even the mighty Nintendo joining the smartphone revolution, it's time people pay these seriously amazing iPhone games the respect they deserve. Just give me $9.99, or share this list with 20 of your Facebook friends to pay your respects. Or, you can pay them a bulk of respect for the low price of $99.99. Or you can wait 24 hours.
Physical, paper-based calendars have but two uses in our smartphone-enabled world: an outlet for shirtless firemen to show off their goods and raise some dough for a new engine, and a way for your grandparents to keep track of your birthday.
Again, while professional photogs may scoff at using the iPhone camera as a replacement for their DSLR, the layman can (and does) use their lil' iPhone camera as a suitable alternative with some major potential for greatness. With stellar HD, and ridiculously easy ways to upload and share photos, unless you are a real stickler for the specifics, your iPhone camera should be just fine for everyday use.
15. Maps and atlases
The next time you are planning the trip around the world that you will never end up taking, or need to cheat on geography trivia, be thankful you have full access to every map possible, and a vantage point for every spot in the world, through any number of apps, my favorite being Google Earth—mainly because I like to zoom in really fast and pretend I'm skydiving.
16. DVD players and collections
Netflix. iTunes. 'Nuff said.
The flashlight included free of charge with your iPhone won't fill your entire home with watts, but it will definitely help you find whatever you dropped underneath your coach. Unless it's your iPhone, in which case you're f*cked.
18. Portable hard drive
The lower-gig iPhones may lack the beefy storage space needed to make an ostensible replacement for a true, everyday external hard drive, but your phone can be used, for all intents and purposes, as a portable hard drive in many similar situations, and particularly in a pinch. For storing and transporting files temporarily, it should be your go-to. The iPhone is a hard drive that is in your pocket at all times—and that's pretty damn convenient.
19. Post-It notes
Even pen and paper stalwarts like myself are gradually turning into digital note-takers. Do I have a pen and Post-Its on me at 3 a.m. on the subway when I have a killer idea for Crocodile Dundee-inspired sitcom? Nope. But I do have my iPhone. And I can set a note to buzz a reminder to myself in my phone, while most of my droopy Post-Its usually end up on the bottom of someone's shoe. Ease of use and constant accessibility win this round.
I literally never used a compass in my life till I got my first iPhone. Now, I no longer have to search for the North Star, or try to find a mossy rock formation in order to meet my friends at that new bar, due south from my apartment. The only problem is looking like an idiot while you try to calibrate the thing, which can't be avoided.
21. Mobile hotspot
It will burn your data plan, but the ability to turn your iPhone into a mobile hotspot, effectively giving you Wi-Fi anywhere you go, is one of the slickest things you can do on your smartphone. Pro tip: get your employer to pay for your phone/data plan and never pay for internet again.
Even aside from the plethora of stellar TV shows on streaming services like Netflix and HULU, most major television networks have mobile apps available free of charge for those with cable subscriptions. The WatchESPN app alone lets me catch hours upon hours of SportsCenter while I'm supposed to be working. (Note to my editors: please disregard that last sentence.)
23. White noise machines
If you need some filler sounds to soothe you to sleep, opt for the $2 aptly named White Noise app (or its free "lite" cousin) for audible delights like "Running stream," "Oscillating fan," or "Monkey orgy." (Just kidding on that last one.)
One of the most recent additions on this list, the Remote Mouse app, turns your smartphone into an effective wireless mouse. Controlling your Mac via your iPhone? What a time to be alive and have hands.
With accurate and well-reviewed apps like the free but lazily-titled Speedometer, you can confidently tell any police officer that you do indeed know exactly how fast you were going. Even if you are just walking around.
27. Tape recorder
Whether you are a reporter on the beat, or the kind of guy who likes to listen to himself recite A Tale of Two Cities in a horrible British accent, a tape recorder is an essential. Thankfully your iPhone comes fully-equipped with a high-quality audio recorder, with more than enough space available to prove that you sound really weird in real life.
28. Universal remote
If there is one app on this list I am truly thankful for, it's the Roomie Remote universal remote app. Though it costs a semi-steep (for this list anyway) $10 price tag, it's worth its weight in AA battery-free gold. The app uses Wi-Fi to synch all of your devices (from Satellite TV, to your Apple TV, to your Thermostat) to one beautifully displayed app, acting as a true universal remote. There are free options out there, but this one might be worth the extra shekels.
29. Thermometers (and listening to weathermen)
Gone are the days of leaning outside to check the thermometer on your porch, or tuning in to see Al Roker wax poetic about snow flurries. With the built-in weather app Apple so kindly provides iPhone users, you can see what the weather has in store for you for weeks to come. It's the next best thing to actually looking up from your phone and going outside...which is just way too complicated.
Through apps like Simple Radio by Streemer, you can listen to your favorite AM/FM radio stations on your phone (though it will cost you data if you aren't on Wi-Fi). You can also access a bevy of Podcasts for the low, low price of zero dollars.
31. Personal organizers
Like "Little Black Books," personal organizers are almost embarrassingly trapped in the past, but at one time, they were absolutely vital to those who wanted to stay ahead of their schedule in the most convenient way possible. Now, you can set push notifications to stay on top of every important meeting you plan to skip anyway, all with the flick of an index finger.
32. GPS navigation
GPS systems had a brief but bright reign on our dashboards, till iPhones came along (with Google Maps) and rendered them completely useless. Why spend extra on a Garmin when Siri can get you where you are going, with only moderate levels of monotone condescension?
33. All other phones (and answering machines, and caller ID)
Duh. The most obvious entry on the list is also the most useful. It wasn't too long ago that we had to fork over extra money for caller ID, or constantly remember to switch out our answering machine tape, or search for a pay phone (and the quarters to pay for a call). Thankfully, the guys at Cupertino made sure we would never be without a phone in our hands for the rest of our lives. Which is a good thing....I guess.