If there’s anything I’ve realized about all of the technology that’s come out over the decade, it’s that we, as humans, are very spoiled. From a home appliance that magically whips up meals with pressure to a car that drives for you, it’s tough to say any of us are truly self-sufficient anymore.
But, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing.
We’ve come a long way these past ten years and it was tough to narrow down all of the best tech products to a short list. But, in the end, we chose the ones that made the biggest impact on the way we live.
Let’s just say, it’s been a pretty wild ride. So, buckle up, because we’re about to take a trip through the best tech of the decade.
1. Apple iPhone 4
It’s been nearly ten years since the iPhone 4 came out and I’d still gladly rock it in 2020. As the successor to the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone 4 brought with it a lot of upgrades. For starters, it came complete with an LED light for notifications on its face, as well as a 5-megapixel rear camera, and a front-facing camera for both selfies and FaceTime calls.
Then, consider its design: With a stainless-steel frame and a more defined, square build (in comparison to the rounded edges on the iPhone 3GS), it set the stage for what smartphones would look like for years to come.
There’s also the fact that it was the perfect size for a smartphone; it just felt so damn comfortable in the palm of your hands. In a world where large smartphones feel like the norm — specifically, the iPhone XS Max or the iPhone 11 Pro — the iPhone 4 reminds us all that smaller can sometimes actually be better.
Now, let’s hope the iPhone SE 2 isn’t just a rumor.
Thanks to the Google Assistant, I often find myself randomly wanting to say “Hey, Google” even when there isn’t a Pixel or Google Home in sight. While the company’s voice assistant is only three years old — it launched in 2016 — it’s since transformed the lifestyles of many, both at home and on the go.
And, sure, the Google Assistant is always there to answer your questions, help you with your schedule, and inform you of the latest news. But, it’s also there to make sure you never have to get off your couch. With integration into tons of smart home products, it’s tough to name a device that doesn’t already come Google Assistant-ready. From TVs and smart speakers to washing machines and robot vacuums, a few simple voice commands can get the job done.
Even the electronics in my tiny room, where I can technically reach everything from my bed, are set up to a smart power strip. That way, I literally don’t have to lift a finger to turn on my lamp, space heater, TV … well, you get the point.
When AirPods first came out in 2016, I thought they were the dumbest looking earbuds I’d ever seen. Then I tried them. And now, I can’t live without them.
While I’m still angry at Apple for removing the iPhone’s headphone jack, I don’t miss being tethered to my phone. With a pair of these sitting in my ears, the possibilities of things I can do are endless. I can cook, fold laundry, go for a run, or talk on the phone while walking around my apartment, all hands-free.
There’s also the fact that they’re just so damn easy to use. Pairing AirPods to your iPhone is as simple as opening the case. And, speaking of the case, it has a built-in battery that quickly charges them so you don’t have to worry that your earbuds are going to die with no outlet in sight.
4. Amazon Alexa
Sure, Apple’s Siri came out in 2011, but it’s been nine years and it still needs a lot of improvement. That being said, there’s no doubt that Amazon truly set the tone for smart assistants everywhere with the debut of the Amazon Echo smart speaker in 2014. With a simple voice command, Alexa, as Amazon’s assistant is called, turned off the lights, told you the weather, added items to your shopping list, played music, and set timers.
From there, Google swooped in with its very own Google Assistant and Google Home smart speaker in 2016. Meanwhile, Apple played catch up with the Siri-powered HomePod in 2018. All of which operate very similarly to both Alexa and the Amazon Echo.
But, while Amazon’s lineup of smart speakers have since expanded their capabilities, the one thing I’ll always be most impressed by is Alexa’s ability to order products via your Amazon account. There’s just something about ordering useless stuff via voice command, where you can’t see the price, that makes you feel less guilty about shopping.
While the Apple Watch was already on plenty of wrists prior to the release of the Series 4 in 2018, this model truly set the tone for the future of smartwatches. Activity tracking and smartphone notifications? That’s child’s play. Apple managed to pack an ECG sensor into its smartwatch, giving it the ability to take electrocardiograms and identify signs of atrial fibrillation.
To add to its list of medical capabilities, it also comes with fall detection. So, whenever the watch detects that you’ve fallen and can’t get up (yes, we went there), it sends an alert to your emergency contacts and dials emergency services.
From there, other brands followed suit: Only a few months later, Withings launched its Move ECG hybrid smartwatch. Meanwhile, Samsung also added fall detection and an ECG monitor to its second-generation Galaxy Watch Active 2. (Although, that sensor has yet to actually work. But that’s another story for another time.)
Regardless, Apple managed to set new the tone for smartwatches with the Series 4; one that digs deeper into our health metrics than mere heart rate and calories burned. Now, if it could only track sleep next.
The Nintendo Switch came out in 2017 and, two years later, is one of the top-selling video game consoles in the U.S., with 41.67 million units sold as of Sept. 30. Considering Nintendo’s previous console, the Wii U, only sold about 13 million units in its lifetime, let’s just say people’s expectations for the Switch weren’t very high.
With this bad boy, you can take your pick from recent critical hits starring the likes of Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong — the list goes on. Or, you can opt for something a little more fresh.
Its portability also truly embodies the lifestyle of the late 2000’s, you know, since no one knows how to sit still nowadays. With the Switch, you can swap back and forth between playing on the portable screen or on your TV thanks to the included dock. That way, you can easily pick up where you left off.
7. Instant Pot
The Instant Pot has developed somewhat of a cult following since its debut in 2010 and I couldn’t understand why until I used one myself. Let me tell you: This thing is magical. The same way Instagram turned everyone into a photographer, Instant Pot turned everyone into a chef — including me.
For starters, it’s literally a bunch of appliances morphed into one device that sits on your countertop. It’s also super easy to use. Throw a bunch of ingredients into it, wait a little while, release that steam, and you have yourself an entire meal.
There’s really nothing the Instant Pot can’t cook: soup, chili, porridge, rice, stew, poultry, etc. I mean, this thing can even make cake and yogurt! And, speaking from personal experience, it makes a delicious chicken tikka masala.
Plug a Google Chromecast into your TV’s HDMI port and you’re ready to stream — it’s that simple. To me, it’s just as magical a gadget as the Instant Pot. Especially, if you watch as much TV as I do. Rather than going out of your way to purchase an expensive smart TV, Chromecast lets you stream all the content you want from Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, HBO Go, and more.
Since its debut in 2013, Chromecast has been through three revisions, each making it a faster and better streaming dongle. But for the most part, this precious little device has remained the same in terms of both look and features. And, for those of you in the market for a new TV, you also have the option to purchase a set with Chromecast built-in. That way, it’s all set up for you right out of the box.
I never truly appreciated Apple CarPlay until I realized how outdated my car’s Bluetooth speaker was. The feature, which first came out in 2014, essentially turns the display in your car into a second iPhone screen.
With CarPlay, you can read and answer text messages, play music, view your calendar, and more, all without actually touching or looking at your actual phone. (That’ something we all know we shouldn’t do while driving anyways. But hey, no one’s perfect.)
10. Tesla Autopilot
Tesla’s Autopilot truly raised the bar for autonomous driving systems. Originally released in 2014, it’s come a long way in the last five years despite some issues. The feature comes with multiple capabilities including adaptive cruise control, auto-steer, speed assist, and autopark. The newest Teslas even have the ability to look at your calendar and take you where you need to go. If my next car can’t do this, then I don’t want it.
And I know not everyone will agree with this statement but, you guys, driving can be tough. Then again, this is coming from the person who failed her driver’s test on the first try (and also recently drove the wrong direction into a one-way street). So, I’ll gladly welcome Autopilot into my life with open arms.