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How the iPhone has changed the way we shop

Marco Tabini | Aug. 1, 2013
The iPhone can be a valuable ally in making shopping slightly less agonizing.

In the span of a few short years, I've learned that my iPhone, among its many virtues, can be a valuable ally in making an agonizing experience slightly less agonizing. Take shopping, for example.

At the risk of perpetuating a stereotype, I confess that I don't love shopping. I hold no grudge against those who do; it's just that the idea of wandering aimlessly through aisle after aisle or waiting in line at the till while others fumble with their wallets is not how I like to spend my spare time.

Even though frequent trips to some store or other cannot be avoided, I've noticed that having Apple's handset with me has subtly changed the way I--and, I suspect, many others--shop.

Remember, remember...
One of the hardest aspects of shopping is remembering everything you wanted to buy, particularly when you're dealing with a long list of mundane items (think weekly grocery shopping). Using pen and paper to keep track of the products you need to buyrequires patience and discipline, and often results in forgotten purchases and repeated trips to the store. Computers, on the other hand, are good at this task, which explains the plethora of apps dedicated to to-do and grocery lists in the App Store.

You don't need to buy fancy software to get effective shopping reminders, however; the humble Reminders app makes the process of tracking your needs easy, particularly now that you can share lists between users and add items to them using Siri: Whenever inspiration strikes (or supplies run out), you need only reach for your iOS device or Mac and either type or dictate the items that need buying; later on, the list will be neatly available as you navigate the store aisles. Partners, spouses, and roommates can even add items to the list when they think of them, heading off arguments about whose fault it is that you're out of milk.

Of course, even with technology, things don't always go smoothly. But Reminders still offers a vast improvement over the old-school alternatives, particularly when you consider that its functionality is baked right into Apple's operating systems and integrates well with so many other technologies that we already use every day.

Find, compare, shop
To the chagrin of many a traditional retailer, the Internet has made comparison shopping extremely easy: A bit of planning and a couple of Google searches will quickly point you in the direction of a store that has the best price in your area; plus, because many retail chains now make their inventory available on the Web, you can actually be sure that your trip will not be in vain.


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