The phones of today are inaccurately named. Sure they can make calls if you really want them to, but they can also send and receive emails, send and receive text messages, run Facebook or Twitter, play Angry Birds and do just about anything else.
Brian X. Chen is a writer for Wired and the author of the new book, Always On: How the iPhone Unlocked the Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Future -- and Locked Us In. As the title indicates, he traces the era of the inescapable device to the iPhone and specifically the opening of Apple's wildly successful app store, which contains some 400,000 at last estimate (or wild guess). The idea of there being an app for almost anything you'd want to do really caught on.
Now, says Chen, we're seeing the emergence of apps in a lot more places. Sure, the Android marketplace for Android phones and tablets as well as smaller app stores for Microsoft, Blackberry, and Palm devices. But beyond that, Chen points to app stores being built for televisions and cars. Once you put app stores in places like that, you're compelling people to interact, to be online, to be part of the Always On world he's describing.
Chen points to new apps being used by law enforcement to read a suspect's fingerprints or scan their eyeball and return data in 15 minutes that used to take several hours to process.
Also in this program, we hear about Internet Shame Insurance. It's a browser extension for Google Chrome that forces you to think about what you're about to email, tweet or Facebook before sending out to recipients who maybe shouldn't be seeing it.