15 Inventions From the 2010s We Can't Live Without
From Uber to Apple Pay, these are the innovations from the past decade we use every day.
It's hard to believe life in 2010 was that much different from life today. But if you really went back in time 10 years, you'd be surprised by the culture shock. You couldn't pull out your iPhone 11 to order an Uber, much less break out Apple Pay whenever you wanted to buy something. You couldn't Postmates dinner to eat while watching a Netflix original series. To be clear, those of us who use these services know we don't exactly need them to survive, and that we're lucky to have them at our disposal. But when you've come to rely on these things—as many of us have over the past decade—it can be hard to imagine life without them. To help you see how far we've come come, we've rounded up all the groundbreaking 2010s inventions that have become ingrained in our everyday lives.
You can't always count on finding a cab, and public transportation can be inconvenient or unreliable. But getting to your destination is almost too easy with rideshare apps like Uber. As common as it is now, Uber wasn't actually an option until 2010. The brainchild of Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp, the app was developed in 2009; after being unveiled in San Francisco, the first ever Uber trip was taken in July 2010. Flash forward to 2019, and Uber is now an international venture available in more than 700 cities.
People who rely on Postmates can't remember what the world was like without it, but the platform wasn't created until 2011. And while food delivery apps like GrubHub were around before then, Postmates' invention was unique in that it was the first to deliver not only food, but also anything from dry cleaning to groceries. Postmates has given us a new conception of what can be delivered—and how quickly it can get to us.
In 2019, chances are you're hooked on at least one Netflix original series. From massive hits like Stranger Things and Orange Is the New Black to more under-the-radar series, Netflix has produced hours and hours of content for anyone and everyone to binge-watch. It all started in 2013 when Netflix released its first original series, House of Cards. Since then they've branched out to films, earning a heap of accolades in the process, and given us more content than any of us could possibly keep up with.
When you take a good selfie these days, it goes straight to the Instagram feed. But before 2010, there wasn't a social media platform purely dedicated to uploading and sharing photos. Kevin Systrom built Instagram in 2010, and according to Forbes, the app had 500,000 people signing up every week within a year.
Now there are nearly one billion active monthly users on Instagram worldwide, and people are still joining every day. (We're looking at you, Jennifer Aniston!)
If you've sent a text from an Apple device to someone else with an Apple device, you know the comfort of the familiar blue bubbles that let you know you're using Apple's built-in instant messaging service, iMessage. Apple launched iMessage—which allows Apple users to send an unlimited number of messages for free—in 2011, a time when most people still had wireless carriers that charged for every text sent and received. Could you imagine spending 20 cents every time you sent or received a text? No, thank you!
Over the last decade, we've gotten Apple Watches, AirPods, and, most recently, the iPhone 11. And then there's the iPad, which feels like a mainstay, but didn't come into our lives until 2010. In January of that year, Steve Jobs released Apple's newest creation, and more than 300,000 iPads sold on the first day. Today, 20 additional models have been released. The idea of a convenient portable tablet once seemed like science fiction, but by 2018, more than 350 million iPads had sold worldwide.
Browsing your Facebook feed, you've surely come across more than one GoFundMe request urging you to donate money. However, this form of crowdfunding, where users create campaigns to raise money online, didn't really take off until 2010. Kickstarter launched in 2009 and was subsequently named one of the "50 Best Inventions of 2010" by Time. GoFundMe arrived shortly thereafter, in 2010. These services have made it easier for people to raise money for everything from pursuing creative endeavors to paying off expensive medical bills—with billions of dollars raised between them.
Endless ways to pay
Before 2010, your payment options were pretty much limited to card or cash. These days, you can branch out. Don't have your card on you? Apple Pay was introduced in 2014, allowing people to pay with their phone. And the 2010 invention of Square—another of Time's "50 Best Inventions" that year—gave anyone the power to process credit card payments.
Whether it's splitting the bill for a meal or giving somebody gas money, the phrase "I'll Venmo you" has become a constant in our daily conversations. Founded in 2009, and launched publicly in 2012, Venmo has brought about a new age of paying people back (and making sure you get what you're owed). By the end of 2018, the app had become so widely used that it had processed around $62 billion in payments for the year.
Before 2010, you couldn't ask Siri to send a text, look up a song, or set an alarm. Now if you have an iPhone, you've got your own personal assistant—they just happen to be virtual. Siri was released as an app for Apple devices in 2010 before it became integrated into Apple devices in 2011. And now, simply saying "Hey, Siri" opens up a world of possibilities for using your phone with just your voice.
Smart home assistants
It wasn't only Siri we were lacking: Before this decade, we didn't have smart home assistants like Alexa and Google Home either. Amazon released Alexa in 2014 and Google followed with Google Home in 2016, allowing for an easier way to control the electronics in your home. Who could have imagined that by the end of the 2010s you'd be able to do so much simply by using your voice?
The ability to track your location and get directions to just about anywhere with your phone has certainly been a game changer over the past decade. And while Google Maps launched first, the creation of Apple Maps in 2012 was an important step in having a GPS automatically synced and defaulted to your phone on purchase. Whichever you're using, chances are you haven't consulted a paper map in years. Sure you can get around without Apple Maps, but sometimes you keep it open anyway—you know, just in case.
Many of us are so conditioned to wireless coverage and high speeds that we take both for granted. Imagine waiting minutes for something to load on your phone. Before 2010, however, that was the reality for many of us. Rolling out in 2010, 4G coverage was the first major invention to give smartphones the upper hand in data speed, matching that of a personal computer. And while it was momentous at its time, 4G is now being traded up for an even faster connection with 5G.
In 2010, Philips released the very first Airfryer—an invention that has now taken over kitchens worldwide. Despite the name, an air fryer cooks (as opposed to frying) a multitude of foods from chicken tenders to baked potatoes. It's convenient, it's healthier, and it's everywhere. Since the first Airfryer, other brands like Ninja and Farberware have gone on to release their own versions of what may be this decade's greatest kitchen innovation.
You can get a lot sent right to your door these days, and that includes a new mattress. The revolution of boxed mattresses started with the 2014 invention of Casper, a brand dedicated to selling memory foam mattresses online. These would then be shipped to your home in a box. So compact! So luxurious! So easy! Since then, various brands—from Allswell to Purple—have shown up on the scene with their own boxed mattresses, making another part of life all the more convenient.