Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

one small step towards simplification

I sold my iPad recently, and I don’t expect to buy another one. (By the way, I love the Amazon buy-back program: I got $150 for a device I had used for more than two years. I’ve already spent most of the money on books.) In general I find navigating the iPad cumbersome, though it’s great for reading PDFs and comics. And those experiences were good enough, and frequent enough, that I’m not saying anything stronger than “I don’t expect to buy another one.” I could weaken.

But so far I am really happy with the decision, because I now spend less time asking myself, for example, whether I want to take my laptop or my iPad to the coffeeshop. I also don’t have to make software choices based on cross-platform compatibility. Indeed, this simplification of my life has been sufficiently pleasant that I’d like to extend it. I have thought a lot about Boone Gorges’ decision to ditch his smartphone and his recent re-endorsement of that decision — as I say, I have thought about it — I have given it serious consideration — and I still have an old phone around the house — but no. I don’t think I can.

And the chief reason is not that my iPhone has tons of cool apps; in fact, I’d like to get away from those apps. Rather, I’m attached to my iPhone because I think it’s an exceptionally elegant and beautiful device. I like holding it and even just looking at it. So what I’d love to see — what would take me away from the iPhone — is a really beautifully designed and engineered cellphone that does nothing but make phone calls, send texts, and take photographs.

When I first decided that I want that kind of phone, I immediately thought Why hasn’t Apple made one of those? But then two seconds later I realized that it would make absolutely no financial sense for Apple to sell us phones that are disconnected from the company’s enormous app ecosystem. And the same logic holds true for Android and Windows phones.

But surely there’s a market here for a new (or maybe an old) company to exploit? An elegant and utterly simple phone that, freed from the need to support apps, could have the bonus of greatly extended battery life. I’d buy one of those in a minute — and sell my iPhone to Amazon.

2 comments:

  • I knew before I started that I didn't want any portable, handheld distraction devices to interfere with my being present at whatever I was doing. So my phone has a data block on it. Makes calls and sends texts. I don't own a laptop or any tablet/reader. I'm happy to read print on paper.

    Whenever I see people diving into their phones for some inane question demanding instant gratification but that doesn't really need answering, I wonder who is the bigger tool, the person or the smartphone? Similarly, all those cool apps come at a cost to privacy and mental function, and worse, serve to make the user a sales mark. No, thanks.

  • Totally agree with you on the phone. Will keep my flip phone till then.

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