About 30 years ago, Apple Computer's founder Steve Jobs envisioned the Newton as a personal digital assistant that will be able to give you information at your fingertip. It was essentially a hand held, portable computer. The product did not catch on due to the infancy of the technology, but the word PDA (for personal digital assistant) lived on and for a while became a popular commercial product sold by other companies. That was until mobile phones got smarter and moved out of the role of a phone and into the role of a PDA. So now we have "smartphones", of which the iPhone is currently the most popular one. With the iPhone, one can download an endless number of apps (small applications), some for just a small fee. The apps turn the phone into a store house of features. Unlike a computer program, the apps are usually simple to use and their portability makes it very handy for people constantly on the move.
I do not have an iPhone but I have a Symbian phone that essentially does the same thing. After some time, I found that I do not really need many of the apps I have installed. After all, there is a time for everything. If I want to look up a restaurant, I find it better to sit in front of my computer before setting out, rather than drive out unprepared and start seeking out a restaurant on my phone. If I want to go somewhere unfamiliar, I would google it on my computer before leaving the house, rather than having to rely on a GPS.
Having said that, it is handy to have certain apps to carry around with you. I love being able to look up the dictionary just about any time when I need to. I love having the calculator handy. I love being able to take notes on my voice recorder. I love being able to read an electronic book or play some games when I have some time to kill. All these functions exist simply as apps in my smartphone. I think smartphones are here to stay for those who are tuned in to this technology. For those who are not, here's a tip: you can get a perfectly decent mobile phone for anything between AUD$40-80, instead of shelling out more than AUD$200 for a smartphone that will only confuse you with all kinds of unnecessary features.