It's Christmas, and Ala Moana is bristling with new smartphones with the best consumer technology ever devised. Should you step up or put it off?
The iPhone is only 6 years old, but the new apps and sensors have given it functionality beyond even what
The real news is how much the smartphone has changed the world. We can't even remember how things were before the iPhone, and we can't imagine how much better they will be in the years to come. Today's youth have lived with computers for most of their lives. They are completely comfortable with smartphones. Ever see how fast their fingers move over the touchscreen? They will drive the market.
Hundreds of millions of smartphones have been sold around the world, changing the way we live, work, think, learn and play. It's irreversible. We couldn't go back even if we wanted to, which we don't.
Our world is being redefined by the smartphone: the music industry, radio, TV, news, social media, retail, finance, politics, global telecom and the Web itself. The device is no longer optional; now it's essential. Every self-respecting business needs to have an app, and many businesses can operate on that app alone. The barriers to writing apps have come down. Note all the apps developers they have in Blue Startups.
But we haven't yet fully understood the personal effects of smartphone use. We're captive, dazzled in the headlights. We hunger for more functionality without recognizing the social consequences.
Some users have an obsessive-compulsive disorder about smartphones. They need to repeatedly check things, like email and messages. The interaction preoccupies them and leads to an addiction.
The term "zombie" takes a page from
Turning your phone off for a while can help loosen its grip on your life. How about a timer, or an app that tells you when you're acting like a zombie? If you don't turn the phone off, it turns it off for you.
Or an app that decides whether an incoming caller should rather be sent to voicemail. Or one that says, "I'm a recovering zombie, so don't leave a message."
Heavy users have an extreme fear of being without their phones. It's called nomophobia ("no mobile-phone phobia") and it's spreading. It comes from solitude, boredom and insecurity. Some people go to bed with their phones, like Linus' blanket.
A spate of surveys report that many people could not go one day without their phones; they can't go for an hour without checking messages; they check them during meals with family or friends, in the bathroom or in bed or while driving, legal or not; many would rather stop brushing their teeth or having sex than go without their phones. Now that's nomophobia.
The more powerful these phones get, the more we use and depend on them, and the more compulsive and nomophobic we become. It's a continuum.
Predictions for the future:
-- Smartphones will be faster with more storage and battery life, bendable with the new Li-Fi reception. Some will be larger, as in "phablets." Others will be smaller, as in
-- The smartphone will become ubiquitous but will ultimately be eclipsed by technology that provides even more superhuman powers. Robots, maybe?
-- The biometric scanner is only the beginning. New sensors will be developed, and smartphones will become scientific or medical instruments. They will be accompanied by even more amazing apps.
-- Their interfaces will be more intuitive. New apps will secure them, warn you when you forget them and find them for you when you lose them.
-- Call plans will be more innovative for multiple users and will allow upgrades sooner. They will also let you call from anywhere to anywhere.
-- More phones will be sold from retail stores. The harbingers are the Apple, AT&T,
All things considered, there are some amazing new phones out there, so why not get one you like and enjoy some new leverage in your electronic life? If you can, get a plan that will let you trade up when the next one comes out. If you expect to take it with you into the bathroom, get the extra insurance.
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