What Happens When We Reach Peak Smartphone

We'll Have a New iPhone Tomorrow! (Yawn)

Tomorrow, Apple will be holding it's annual iPhone-palooza. Announcing what is new about the forthcoming iPhone 7 and why you will need to immediately dislodge money from your wallet to get one.
We already know the basics.

  1. It will be thinner, lighter, faster, better.  
  2. It will probably have a fancy two lens camera, giving it DSLR-like capabilities.
  3. It probably won't have a headphone jack.

I'm sure there will be other bells and whistles, but for the most part this all-new device will feel more or less the same. Rumor mills are already starting about next year's iPhone, it will be the 10th anniversary of the device and apparently Apple's goal is the the device feels like it isn't even there, just a slab of glass in your hand your software floating in front of you. We'll see.

All of this has me thinking about when we will hit peak-smartphone. The last major innovation barrier is battery life. Something Apple and Samsung have yet to been able to really address. While it keeps improving, the improvement is nowhere near the pace of processor or display improvement which is demonstrable. Let's say that the secret mad scientists at Apple have sourced a new incredible battery that will improve life 10x and truly change the game, not only that - they've managed to sneak it into the glass-only slab form factor they've dreamed up.

In Other Words, Next Year's iPhone is Perfect.

I know we're a long way away from that, but go with me on this. We now have the perfect smartphone. Samsung copies it a year or so later. Then what? Where does tech go from there?

Well tech writers are doing everything they can to convince you that wearables are most definitely, for sure, absolutely coming and we will all love them. I have no doubt that everything from smart watches to VR helmets will get better, cheaper and more ubiquitous. But, I don't think we're going to see the majority of people need all of these things. I don't know that everyone is going to want to go home, get out of their work clothes and strap a VR helmet to their head. They might want to track their workouts and activity, but hasn't the Fitbit already nailed that?

If not wearables, then personal assistance and in-the-cloud-everything are next, right? People rave about Alexa from Amazon. Personally, Siri has two modes for me, stunning piece of the future in my pocket and drunk girl at the party who should really just go home. My issue with all of these platforms is that they are built on top of poorly constructed under pinnings. Our calendar, email, and task management protocols and platforms are dinosaurs. They don't work well and they sync poorly. No virtual assistant, no matter how well she understands my voice, can really help me if the data in my calendar is flawed or if the data in my email is inaccurate.

Some for instances?

  • How is it that I still get calendar invites in the wrong time zone?
  • How is it that all of my new contacts phone numbers are all saved as home numbers? Prompting exchanges like this:

"Hey Siri, call Jane Doe."

"Which phone number for Jane Doe, home, home, home or work fax?"

"Fuck if I know Siri."

  • How is it that tasks haven't been universalized as pieces of data? How come I can't save a reminder in my iPhone and it actually shows up properly on my Office 365 account?
  • Or the million other things that suck about how the most basic data that we move around day-to-day aren't created, saved or recalled easily.

OK, then Smart Guy? So what's next?

I don't think it will be hardware. Because here's the thing, today, right at this very moment, we have smart TVs and phones, tablets, laptops, connected cars, and a plethora of connected devices that can tell us everything right down to when the basement has flooded. The physical devices aren't the issue. The issue today is that the software isn't radically changing the way we live beyond inundating us with useless notifications and addictive pop sugar content. Accessing software in your hand, on the move, is indeed sometimes an improvement over having to sit at a computer. Maps are obviously much more useful when tethered to the device moving around in the car than to the one sitting on your desk. But the mobile experience has reached a plateau.

For all the promise of mobile purchasing, mobile commerce is largely not happening. I am the only jackass at dunkin donuts using my apple watch to buy coffee. I have literally never seen anyone at my local grocery store, mall, or home depot ask if they can pay for something with their phone. Does that mean it will never happen? No, of course not. But if these devices are going to matter, then it isn't going to the hardware that changes things any more. We're long past the days of smartphones being too bulky.

We're about to hit peak iPhone and Apple knows it. The race of the next decade won't be hardware. It'll be software.

Let's see who wins.




Women and Headphones

Possibly the dumbest most sexist thing I've read in 2016 is up online. Titled How to Talk to a Woman Wearing Headphones it's classic misogynist bullshit.

 She doesn't want to talk to you, bro.

She doesn't want to talk to you, bro.

Let's start from the beginning:

These days, many women walk around playing with a smartphone or tablet device and are often wearing headphones and listening to music at the same time.
Yet, that doesn’t mean you can’t talk to them.

Let me stop you right there chief. Why do you want to talk to her? Is it because she's pretty? Excellent. You've identified a pretty woman. That must mean she wants to talk to you. Because I know for myself, when I'm wearing headphones, I am begging for random people to come and talk to me. They are in no way a non-verbal signal to everyone around to leave me the fuck alone.

But having identified a woman you're attracted to, it is time to assert your will, whether she's signaling she wants to be chatted with or not.

Here's some more sage advice:

1. Stand in front of her (with 1 to 1.5 meters between you). (Invade her space)

2. Have a confident, easy-going smile. (Because of course, she wants to talk to you, hence the headphones)

3. If she hasn’t already looked up at you, simply get her attention with a wave of your hand. Wave your hand in her direct line of vision so she can see it and say, “Hey, how’s it going?” She most likely won’t hear you say that, but it’s just a way of showing her that you’re trying to talk to her. (Annoy her by deliberately getting in her line of sight.)

4. When she looks at you and gives you her attention, smile, point to her headphones and confidently ask, “Can you take off your headphones for a minute?” as you pretend to be taking headphones off your head, so she fully understands what you mean. (Interrupt her)

Articles like this are stone-age advice columns on how to "pull" women. They assume that a woman's time and attention are yours to be demanded. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's never OK to approach a woman. What I'm saying is that women hanging out at a bar or club have made a decision to go to an open social environment known for spurring conversation. A woman sitting at a little Starbucks table listening to music didn't come to talk to you.

It makes the basic assumption that women are for men. That no matter what social clues she's given, she secretly wants men to talk to her, to seduce her. It assumes women are stupid targets ready to be hunted. 

I can't believe stuff like this get's written in 2016.


Starting Uninformed Opinions

Why I'm Starting My Own Platform

When I started writing on Medium it was an experiment. I have always enjoyed writing for myself, but never knew if I could or should share my work publicly. What started as a couple of short stories blossomed into a love of writing and a need to do it everyday. Medium gave me a place to share my work and meet other great readers and writers.

In short, Medium has been good to me and I have no intention of leaving it.

OK, so then why am I starting my own website?

I recently came across the story of writer Dennis Cooper's blog. For the last 14 years he wrote a blog that was passionately followed by thousands of readers. He wrote about death, sex and countless other topics. Then suddenly, and without explanation, Google shut his account down. Poof. It disappeared. He was given a vague explanation that his content had violated the Terms of Service agreement, but no further explanation of what happened to his content and if he could get it back. From a recent NY Times piece:

Thus far, these efforts [to recover Cooper's blog] have been in vain. Google has not responded beyond saying there was a violation of the Terms of Service agreement. It has neither identified the specific violation nor indicated why it also deleted Mr. Cooper’s email account. It has not provided Mr. Cooper with the ability to download his personal information so he might rebuild his blog and email account elsewhere. In one interview, Mr. Cooper said he thought that the male escort ads might have led to his account’s being deactivated, but this has not been confirmed by the company...
I am all for conversations about art and its limits, but I do not want a corporation to be the arbiter of those limits. Google, as a private entity, is allowed to dictate how people use its services. It is allowed to dictate the consequences when people use its services in ways it doesn’t approve. Such protocols are outlined in Terms of Service. “By using our services, you are agreeing to these terms,” they state. Access is acquiescence. We are invited to use “free” services, and in exchange, Google puts ads in front of us and mines our online habits for data.

Medium is currently a fairly free and open place. It's been a wonderful platform for writing and experimentation. However, there is nothing saying that it might not change. For instance what happens if:

  • Medium decided to stop hosting erotica?
  • Decided stories must host advertising?
  • Decided all stories must be part of publications?

Those are all guesses, I have no idea how Medium will change over the coming years. What I do know is that platforms tend to move toward closure, not toward openness. Think about the beginnings of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogger and Livejournal. Think about them now, they are all radically different. Whether they've ascended to algorithm driven bland lands (looking at your Facebook), the land of the troll (yep, twitter) or totally irrelevant (sorry Livejournal), they've all dramatically changed.

I was willing to live with this risk when writing was an experiment. However, I've grown to love this form of expression and I want a place where I can share whatever fiction or essay I like without fear of corporate censorship or service changes. And if services do change, at least this is a site I pay for and I (theoretically) have some recourse for my content to move elsewhere. When you don't pay for a product, you are the product.

OK, so what about Medium?

Medium has a import function which allows me to pull posts from this site. So, I'll still be around, sharing my content with the wonderful folks there. I will also be reading and writing responses, because I love good discussion. I'm not going anywhere.

More soon.