I'm a victim of inconspicuous consumption ...
This has happened to me before. Way back when I was in college I learned to program on an IBM 360 mainframe computer that ate punch cards, recorded its memories on reels of magnetic tape, and spat out reams of text on multipart green-bar paper. The room-sized beast had a face full of glittering lights and no video screen. It had less computing power than what is contained now in my watch.
Bartleby, the Scrivener." Just as Melville's quirky clerk, with his job (scrivening?) of copying documents in longhand, has vanished like a covered wagon heading West, so too this "modern" technology quickly passed into history almost while we watched. The next time I saw an IBM 360 it was behind glass in the Computer History Museum in Boston. The curators had recreated a programmer's office, circa 1965, including a scribbled note that said, "Bob - I can get you an hour on the machine between 3 and 4 AM tomorrow."
With all that in mind, let me tell you about my new phone (an HTC Aria running Android). One of the nice things about arriving late to a party like the smart phone revolution is the delightful experience of the "how long has this been going on?" feeling. Of course I've been reading about the developments all along, watching coworkers check their email on their phones, even listen to music and browse the Internet. And my own last two phones have at least had cameras built in and a way to send pictures out into the world. And yes, I even experienced some envy for the first iPhone adopters and their endless fascination with flipping through screens with their bare fingertips.
Naturally it has a camera, both photo and video, now standard equipment on any self respecting phone, as well as the ability to play music, and even a built in FM radio to tie me into NPR. (Hey, Apple - when will you let people play with the deactivated radios in YOUR phones? Oh, never mind - I realize that will not happen until there's a way to make them pay for it.)
But the thing that really brought me up short was pushing the little icon that said "Voice Dialing." A window opened up that said "Listening ..." like the ship computer on Star Trek used to say. I assumed I would have to record the sound of my voice saying a name and then train the phone to identify this with an entry in my address book. But when I said my wife's name a moment later her phone number appeared on screen ready to dial. The phone understood me!
Like I said. The "how long has this been going on" feeling. Last time I paid any attention to voice recognition software it was an expensive application that demanded a desktop computer with plenty of horsepower and didn't work very well even then. Apparently now a phone has all the horsepower needed for this, and it works pretty well. I guess I should have caught on from all the recent conversations I've had with phone answering robots when I call the phone company.
So, for you in the future, to whom Implanted Direct Cerebral Communication (or IDCC) is commonplace, and to whom the very idea of a "phone" is so arcane that it requires explanation, just remember where you came from. And remember too, that even your wonderful toys will someday become laughable.