The 2010s, like pretty much every decade in the last 150 or so years, has been really transformational. We started the decade thinking how cool we were streaming blocky Netflix videos on our tiny cell phone screens and we ended the decade watching Disney+ in 4K on 7″ screens. We started by paying $1500 for a 40″ TV and ended by paying $300 for a 55″ TV. And we started the decade thinking the Prius was the car of the future and ended thinking the Tesla was.
But what trend really embodied the 2010s to me? Here are the best and worst trends I could think of.
Best trend: smart home technology
Here’s something you couldn’t do in 2010: talk to your stuff. People do it all the time now but on January 1, 2010 it still seemed like science fiction. Today it’s so common we take it for granted.
Siri, Apple’s digital assistant, was released in 2011. It became a good party trick although it didn’t really do much. It was followed in 2014 by Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant, and the prosaically named Google Assistant in 2016. By mid-decade, a voice command was all you needed in order to get information anywhere.
More importantly, toward the end of the decade you started seeing devices that worked with Alexa and Google Assistant. You could turn on lights, play music, even do household tasks.
Internet-connected appliances let you leave the house knowing the garage door was closed and the oven was off. You could even get a live shot of what’s in the fridge so you’ll know what you need from the store. Smart thermostats learned your routine, and smart doorbells let you see who was calling, from anywhere in the world.
Smart home tech hasn’t taken off as much as I thought it would, but it’s still growing. We’re slowly seeing internet connections being built into practically everything. We’re still learning how to use this awesome power and I expect that the ’20s will totally belong to the smart home.
Worst trend: smart home technology
That’s right, I think smart home tech is also the worst trend of the 2010s. The big reasons: competing technologies and immature people.
While Apple may have started the voice assistant craze, it’s long been overtaken by Amazon and Google. Pretty much every smart outlet or smart device works with Alexa, Google Assistant, or both. Apple’s own entry, HomeKit, is largely forgotten except by the diehards.
Luckily it’s easy to build both Alexa and Google Assistant into things, so at least you aren’t tossing hardware if you decide to change from one to the other. But you’ll still have to reprogram things, and that means you’re going to have to pledge allegiance to one or the other. You won’t mix the two. Amazon is pretty much the only source for Echo (the technology that listens for your voice), and Google sells the only Google Assistant voice systems.
The other reason smart home is so bad is that we don’t know what to do with it. I guarantee you that the first month you had an Echo dot (or other voice assistant hardware) you asked a huge number of dumb questions. Some of them you probably wouldn’t want your mother to know about. Then you figured out that Amazon keeps all that data and that it could be listening a lot more than you realized.
Smart home systems don’t have the level of security and privacy they should, not yet anyway. It won’t be long before we hear of the first massive hacks of this tech and it could be truly scary. Amazon, Google, and Apple are working hard to make sure that doesn’t happen. Let’s hope they get there before the bad guys.
Smart home has its good and bad. It’s got tons of potential, but it’s not quite there yet. However, it’s getting to be an excellent time to get into the technology because costs have been dropping like a stone. If you need smart home devices, shop the great selection at Solid Signal.