Are We Living In The Paleolithic Era of The Information Age? or Why Is My Smart Phone So Dumb?

It’s not easy staying connected these days. In fact it’s a lot of work. And it takes up a lot of valuable time.

Apple’s iPhone, RIM’s Blackberry, and Google’s Android devices have brought connectivity into the palm of our hands.  But they have also made it nearly mandatory to stay connected.  It’s assumed these days—by my family, friends, colleagues, boss—that I am available at any time, and any message will reach me somehow, someway.  How many times have we sent an email, text, sms, mms, or bbm then wondered why the recipient isn’t responding.  We know they are online—the little green dot on Facebook says so. You know they always have their phone.  So why aren’t they responding?

I find staying connected and responsive a complicated and somewhat exhaustive process. These are the steps I have to take several times a day on my so called “smart” phone, to minimize the anxiety of friends, family and colleagues who need to reach me urgently:

  1. Check work email via the web browser
  2. Check texts, sms, and MMS
  3. Check Gmail
  4. Check AOL -IM
  5. Login to Facebook and check messages, alerts, chats, requests, etc, and, set my status and identify my location.
  6. Log onto TweetDeck and check for any DMs or mentions
  7. And let’s not forget listening to voicemails.

That doesn’t sound so smart to me.

I value the connectivity these platforms provide—that’s why I do all that work to try to keep in touch. But I can’t help feeling like I am living in the Paleolithic era of the Information Age.

There are plenty of apps that will help me manage all of this communication and connectivity–I have test driven a few.

But I don’t want an app for that.  I just want a really smart phone.

I want a smart phone that

  1. Seamlessly allows me to view all of my contacts and their availability, on my home screen
  2. Tracks my whereabouts, and automatically updates my contacts (no more check-ins)
  3. Includes a one-click, easy ‘vacation mode’.  This will make it clear to all my contacts that I am not checking in regularly
  4. More than 8-10 hours of battery life/use time with wireless charging

I believe this kind of integration would open a whole new world of opportunities for users, and consumers as well as for brands looking to engage with and connect with their customers in a meaningful way.  More on that to come in part 2…


3 thoughts on “Are We Living In The Paleolithic Era of The Information Age? or Why Is My Smart Phone So Dumb?

  1. While I can sympathise with the plea, I think you’re missing the point, at least as far as the manufacturers of the phones are concerned.

    They provide a platform on which all these things can be done individually, save #4 as yet, and access to the tools to allow people to integrate them into an app. I personally don’t want any of those things on my smart phone, but have a different list. Being definitely in the post-Fb and post-Twitter phase of my online life, checking either or both of those is of no interest to me. The next person to read this probably has another different list, both of what makes the smartphone smart (or dumb) and the particularly places they want to be able to check.

    That’s the beauty of “there’s an app for that” on both sides. You find or make an app that does what you want, and if you think it’s normal enough you can even put it up for others to use via the app store, the android marketplace etc. Meanwhile I look at your app and think, no way, and find or write one that does what I want.

    You’re thinking of your phone as primarily a communications tool still. Would you turn around and say how dumb this computer is, I have to install software to open a spreadsheet, manipulate an image, word process beyond the minimum? Possibly, but it’s unlikely. What makes your smart phone smart is the fact that it’s a lower-powered roaming computer, not that it’s an always on communications device.

    Your final paragraph is probably right, just from the wrong starting premise. You want the phone to essentially have an app to make everyone use it your way. I want to have the choice to use it how I want thanks. It can still be integrated and allow better communication, but never at the expense of my choice when it’s different to yours thanks.

  2. I’m sure that a smarter smart phone is a good thing. I share the frustration, and it’s great to hear someone articulate it.
    But I would also like to be smarter myself – smarter to not be driven by someone else’s timetable when it’s not really necessary; smart enough to prioritize what’s important and attend to that; smart enough to know that multi-tasking, and multi-checking, is not making my life more enjoyable, or my weeks more productive; smart enough to sink into an experience (for work or pleasure) and not feel like I should keep looking over my electronic shoulder for what’s coming up next. Maybe I need an app for that 😉

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