Apps Gone Wild: Is There Anything They Can’t Do?

Once upon a time, I was known as Inspector Gadget. Why? Because I wore on my belt three different devices — a mobile phone, an iPod, and a Palm Pilot. The phone was only good for calls, the iPod could only play music, and the non-wireless Palm Pilot was simply a calendaring assistant.

I wondered then whether there could ever be convergence, such that at some point I only would need to carry around one device. Of course, that did happen, but the convergence occurred beyond my wildest dreams.

Sure, on one device the size of a deck of cards, I can make calls, play music, and I can organize my calendar. But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

I can exchange emails and texts, I can take and receive photos and videos, I can watch television shows and movies, I can search the Internet, I can talk to my daughter while seeing her live in Europe by videoconferencing, I can work on documents, I can engage in social networking, I can perform financial calculations, and more.

Indeed, there now are hundreds of all sorts of apps that can be downloaded and implemented on a smart phone. Some of the apps are very useful, others are extremely creative, and some are just plain fun.

There are apps for flashlights, GPS mapping/tracking, weather forecasting, and all sorts of games. There are also apps for a wide variety of business, education, entertainment, finance, health and fitness, news, traffic and many other functions. The list just goes on and on. Indeed, there are even apps for the current NCAA March Madness basketball tournament.

I truly have the world at my fingertips within a small handheld device. Amazingly, a tiny smartphone has much more functionality than the massive yet ancient computers I tried to handle decades ago while in college in the library’s basement computer room. Remember computer punch cards?

The phenomenal capabilities of smartphones now are so alluring and still developing that the main challenge is to look up once in a while and stay present in the real world.

Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod’s columns, please email him at ejsinrod@duanemorris.com with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s law firm or its individual partners.