The minimalist smartphones aren’t the problem, you are.

From The Verge, There’s no perfect minimalist phone — yet:

The Jelly’s other big drawback is battery life: there is none. The phone lost almost 20 percent of its juice within 15 minutes as I downloaded four apps. At an 83 percent charge, the phone told me that I has just over four hours of life left, and even that turned out to be overly-optimistic. Eventually, I learned to carry around an external battery pack with me just to make it through the day. I’d never felt less minimalist.

None of these minimalist phones are the problem. Michael Zelenko's mindset is the problem. He's downloading multiple apps to his baby phone. You haven't quit your drug, Zelenko. The point is not to use apps. I believe there is market for phones like these but this isn't the review they deserve.

Then he gives the Nokia 3310 a try:

Open these up and you’ll be banished to the mid-2000s, moving a clunky mouse cursor up and down with an old school direction pad. It took me 10 minutes to pull up Twitter and complete my two-factor authentication, only to accidentally leave the web client and be faced with embarking on the process all over again. I gave up. The apps are so hard to use they may as well be nonexistent, which suited my purposes just fine.

Hey guess what? They have these things called smartphones with big, super-high resolution screens and predictive QWERTY keyboards, and apps, and bigger batteries. Stop trying to put a Toyota Corolla on the racetrack.

I deleted my Facebook account back in March. What I didn't do after deleting my account was go out and look for a Facebook replacement. I deleted it because it was creating unnecessary noise in my life. I immediately felt lighter without my Facebook account.

I will agree with Zelenko that all these phones have usability issues, but those issues are fixable.

If you're debating whether to ditch your iPhone or Android phone, I'd first recommend what I've done as a first step and see how much it helps. I've turned off the majority of notifications on my iPhone. Email and Messages are the only apps that have the badge app icon enabled for unread message counts. My calendar app (I use Timepage) is the only app allowed to use pop-up banners for upcoming events. I've muted Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Waze, and every other app on my phone bothering me.

I've taught my smartphone baby not to interrupt daddy when he's in the middle of doing shit and it's been working out great for the last 3-4 years.

Blloc

Blloc is a plain and minimalistic smartphone combining a power saving operating system with efficient hardware and an easy to use messaging platform, it’s built to be the perfect communication and productivity tool that you can rely on every day.

Blloc is one of those products that seems like an awesome idea in the brainstorming room, but once executed finds very few actual customers who are willing to drop cash on it. The last phone I said this about was Google's Project Ara back in 2014. Two years later Project Ara was scrapped.

I might be wrong. Blloc might find a niche, but the platform war is over. Google and Apple won and I see no way Microsoft can get back in the game.

Oh yeah, one more thing: no demonstration video? Suspect.

Categories:

Mobility, Product

The Mature Smartphone Market

The end of smartphone innovation:

This autumn Apple will release a new iPhone design, and the fact that it postponed a new design and kept the 6 design for three years instead of two suggests it has something that will attract attention. However, it will really still 'just' be another iPhone. Meanwhile, we have some indications that Apple is working on AR glasses (of which more later) and certainly was working on a car project - but neither of these is likely to see a mass-market consumer release for a year or two at the least (cars perhaps longer). So, expect a lot more 'innovation dead at Apple!' stories.

This is paralleled at Android, I think: the new developer release of version 'O' has lots of good work and solid worthy stuff, but nothing world changing. Again, the cry will go up, "innovation is dead!"

Evans is skeptical on voice being the next hot tech. He's more bullish on augmented reality (AR).

It seems like only yesterday the iPhone was released, but in reality it debuted 10 years ago this past January. The smartphone market is mature, so everyone is anxious about what comes next.

Like every other tech company, Apple's goal now is not to predict the post-iPhone future, but to invent it.

Categories:

Product, Technology

I am in charge of my device, my device is not in charge of me.

Steven Levy on the problem with his ever-increasing notifications:

But it's hard to do this right when every single app wants to send you notifications. Even given that the system will limit itself to notices worthy of instant notice -- and The Melvin Renaming is evidence to the contrary -- there are just too many notifications elbowing their way into what should be a narrow passage labeled, "Stuff I absolutely need to see."

This decreases the value of all notifications. If you want an example of another realm, consider the situation of "alarm fatigue" in hospitals, as recently exposed in a book by Dr. Robert Wachter, excerpted here on Backchannel recently. Of the 350,000 drug prescriptions a month that Wachter's hospital issues, pharmacists get alerts on nearly half of those. In the hospital's five Intensive Care Units, bedside cardiac units alerts go off 187 times -- per patient, per day. That's 381,560 a month. If you weren't inured, you'd go crazy. But what about the really serious ones?

We aren't at that level of desperation yet with online notifications. But the Age of Notifications is about to face its biggest mess yet, as alerts move from phone screens to watch faces. Notifications are just about the entire point of a smart watch -- you're not going to be reading books, watching movies or doing spreadsheets on them. And a tilt of the wrist is the perfect delivery system for those little blips.

I say these are his ever-increasing notifications because I don't have this problem. Because I turn off most notifications on my iPhone. The only time my phone vibrates is when I receive a phone call. You know, that old-timey medium were you hear a voice and you talk into your device and they can hear you.

I understand I'm an outlier in how I handle my notifications, but I still don't have any sympathy for these self-made "victims" of notifications. I am in charge of my device, my device is not in charge of me. As George Carlin said, I have this real moron thing I do, it's called thinking. When I install a new app, and that app asks permission to send me notifications, I think for a minute if really makes sense for Flappy Bird or Instagram to send me notifications. The answer is usually no.

I have some advice for anyone who feels their device is running and ruining his or her life:

  • Delete Facebook from your device

Now those hours you'd normally be wasting following the lives of other people? Use a small fraction of that time in the settings area of your iPhone or Android phone. Familiarize yourself with how notifications are handled and turn off the unimportant ones.

I'm normally a big fan of Steven Levy, but shame on him for writing that piece.

Categories:

Human Experience

R.I.P. Palm Treo, 2005-2008

treo_650_big.jpg

Last month marked the retirement of my Palm Treo 650. This phone, combined with my Treo 600 before it, lasted me for over 3 years - and it did it's job very well. Its top selling point for me was the Hot Sync ability. The fact that if I ever lost or broke my phone, I could just sync my new phone with my computer and all my contacts would be back. In fact, the information on my Treo(s) was actually legacy information from my Samsung SPH-300 (Palm OS) and my Palm Vx before it. So you can see, syncing is very important for me. The idea of having to re-enter info into a phone annoys me to no end.

In January of 2007, I was almost ready to renew my contract with Cingular and get a new Treo 680 - but then Apple dropped the iPhone and that changed the whole game. Suddenly the Treo looked dated. Ok, fine, most mobile phones still look dated, but before the iPhone, the Treo had no foil, nothing innovative and modern to contrast its dated operating system. Looking at the Palm Treo now next to the iPhone is like looking at the original 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System next to a Playstation 3.

...and like the NES, I still love my Treo, but it's day has passed. I might occasionally pick it up to look nostalgically at the antiquated OS.

...or to play Dope Wars.

Categories:

Art, Technology