Do a better job of parenting. Have some self discipline.
There are so many products in this world that take advantage of our biology. The iPhone is just one. And it's currently being obsessed over by media outlets. What about all the processed foods making people fat and unhealthy? What about Starbucks selling addictive drugs on every corner and getting away with it? Same with Coca-Cola, why is adding addictive chemicals to a soda that is sold to everyone including children okay? What about television? All of these TV shows coming out are designed to hook you in. Walking my dog every night, I can see everyone just sitting in front of their televisions, wasting time.
If you are going to force a company to help people ween themselves from addiction, don't be a hypocrite. You have your own addictions and vices, what makes yours more valid than someone else's. If we are going to make products provide tools to limit their own use, lets do that with all of the addictive products out there, and not single out one company because it's trendy to not be on your phone.
Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, Sir”.
The old man chuckled aloud, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”
The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!”
I get what you are saying though, and I don't think that it's dumb to try to make progress and help people. I am just pointing out how irrational the world is and how many other problems there are that people turn a blind eye to.
I have no doubt that some people are addicted to their phones...but just as some people are addicted to Siracha sauce
The media needs to chill the fuck out and move on to the next hype cycle...or better (but unrealistic): stop the hype around anything and just go back to reporting actual news
I don't think _anyone_ is addicted to sriracha in the same way people are addicted to their personal devices. Downplaying this problem is the last thing that should be done.
Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences. Despite the involvement of a number of psychosocial factors, a biological process – one which is induced by repeated exposure to an addictive stimulus – is the core pathology that drives the development and maintenance of an addiction. The two properties that characterize all addictive stimuli are that they are reinforcing (i.e., they increase the likelihood that a person will seek repeated exposure to them) and intrinsically rewarding (i.e., they are perceived as being inherently positive, desirable, and pleasurable).
And now go and google Sriracha addiction
Apple could do more to alleviate addictions, however. You could argue that they first introduced these addictions in the first place. Red circles in the corners of apps have become a corner stone in computer interaction. "Do not disturb" and "Notifications" go someway to manage and alleviate this, but ultimately it's not in Apple's interest to provide mechanisms for users to escape their platform.
If apps don't see engagement, developers won't make apps, which means Apple loses money.
If users aren't bullied into updating their devices, the large majority won't update, which means Apple loses control of their platform.
I hope Apple take a stand against this established model. It's gone far enough and it's extremely mentally wearing.
I don't have a citable source handy here, so it's just my word, but when I interned with Apple last year there were a few "town hall" events where interns could ask questions of senior management (Cook, Ahrendts, Cue, Maestri, etc). At one of them (I think the Tim Cook one but I'm not 100% certain) someone asked about smartphone addiction. He pointed out that the Apple Watch actually plays a role. It gives you a tap when you get a notification, but the tap isn't too intense and doesn't go for more than a moment. In user studies, they found that people were much more likely to simply dismiss notifications from the Watch than if they weren't wearing one.
The effect of this was that people weren't unlocking their phones as often, and by merely avoiding unlocking the phone people were not as tied to using it. It used to be the case for me that I would get a notification, unlock my phone and attend to the notification, and then immediately afterwards open Reddit or Facebook or something because, well, I was already on my phone so why not?
Since getting an Apple Watch, I've noticed I do this much less. Maybe part of it is that I'm more cognizant of the problem, but another part is that it's much easier to simply disregard the notifications since they're more fleeting now.
I'm sure this sounds like a sales pitch for the Watch to some people, but I don't mean it that way. I just thought it was very interesting when Cook (I think) pointed out that this was a deliberate consideration with the Watch and then I was able to anecdotally confirm its effectiveness myself. I wish I had an actual source to cite for this, but notes are forbidden in the town hall events.
I get my messages, my calls, and my emails. I can get directions if necessary. I even get my wallet, my weather, my reminders/schedule AND my music. What else do I need?
EDIT: Did I mention it also tells time?
I currently carry a Nikon FE film camera around when I want a camera small enough to forget about, but I am itching to get an X100F in particular.
I traded it all in for a fuji, and 2 small primes, and I bring that camera everywhere.
If you need reach and magnification, for example at an airshow, then you need a long lens with a lot of glass. At that point the weight of the camera becomes irrelevant.
If you just need a couple of primes for street shooting then just about any camera manufacturer will sell you something small and lightweight. Fuji don't have any particular light-attracting or gravity-defeating magic.
Also can't wait till all apps are phone independent. Right now most third party apps stop working without a phone.
The apps I'm waiting for are Car2Go or Uber that work totally independently. Also, unfortunately, Google Hangout for work.
While I'm making wishes, it'd be amazing if I could sync with my MBP instead of my iPhone.
Sony's current compact line seems OK, though I haven't used them--the DSCWX cameras. They've got Exmor sensors (their mirrorlesses all use Exmor sensors) and reasonable lenses. You won't get mirrorless performance, but you're not expecting to, so, yeah.
Well, a distant third reason is that voice recognition is finally good enough for basic text messaging.
"In order to live free and happily, you must sacrifice boredom. It is not always an easy sacrifice."
I think about that a lot when I notice things like what you mention, where everybody is distracted and cell phones are ruling our lives.
I understand if you're not sold on it, and maybe phone distraction isn't a problem that you have anyway, but I think that there is certainly anecdotal evidence that the Apple Watch can be more helpful than harmful in these situations.
I don't think the town hall events were confidential. My understanding was that they asked us not to take notes or use electronic devices to be polite to the speakers. They explicitly told us when certain information was meant to be kept secret.
Just bought a smart watch over the weekend, I'll keep you posted ;)
So that's the key: the Watch frees me from the trap of "Well I'm already on my phone, so I may as well open up Instagram/Twitter and scroll through my feed again."
The difference is that now I can dismiss notifications from my wrist and I am less tempted to actually unlock my phone directly, which is what was causing me to get distracted before.
Phone notificaions, on the other hand, clog up the unlock screen, and seem to demand action when I pull down notification center and see old ones.
I still keep notifications low, mind you. Watch ones are still a distraction. But on balance I find it much less.
When I first learned what a smartphone was, I knew immediately that I would become addicted to it if I let myself.
I simply chose not to get addicted to smartphones by never purchasing one, and it's working out quite well so far.
I know they're awesome little nuggets of technology, but I just don't want to be that connected... so I don't own one.
For the same reasons that I choose not to continually purchase the latest gaming console.
Spending $1,000 on something every 6 months (amortized cost of the smartphone + connectivity charges) that eventually becomes worthless isn't far off from a serious drug or alcohol addiction financially speaking...
And now all of my "straight laced" friends can hardly even carry on a casual conversation without looking at their smartphones every few minutes has only reinforced my way of thinking.
They use smartphones as passive babysitters for their children when they're on short car rides without hesitation.
The look on a 3 year old's mesmerized face as they stare into a tablet disgusts me to no end.
I now choose to never own a smartphone.
I know they're a detriment to society.
Perhaps when I am old, dying, and actually in desperate need of "contact", I'll splurge on one.
But until then, I'm perfectly content receiving and composing emails from a full-blown computer with a keyboard... and sending the odd text message through my dumbphone.
I work in the tech industry, and refusing to own a smartphone hasn't slowed me down yet!
EDIT: I suppose the most widespread addiction is coffee. Still king.
(I think I would draw the line between dependence and addiction when it starts affecting your normal life, but again that description is pretty subjective).
> What does a healthy, moderate digital life look like? I think that manufacturers and app developers need to take on this responsibility, before government regulators decide to step in
As a bicyclist and driver I believe one of the best ways to enact this would be add a feature that allows investigators / insurers to answer the question of “whether the device was I use at the time of an accident”.
I’ve taken to yelling “get of your effing phone” at drivers obviously looking down at devices while I’m driving, walking or cycling around; I think the phone doing that would be more efficient.
My iPhone does do that. If it thinks I'm driving, it makes me tap a button that says "I'm not driving." in order to continue.
A driver on her phone strikes a cyclist stopped for a light because the driver cuts the corner and enters the wrong lane. The cyclist is wearing high-viz clothing and uses a very loud horn to alert they driver but the driver just wasn't paying looking.
As a black box type device, in this case, the logs should be undeletable by the user. Perhaps a rolling log that wipes itself every week or month (minimal data impact, maximal utility to authorities in cases of accidents and such).
By keeping it on the device the privacy concern is partly dealt with. The information is still collected, but no 3rd party has access to it until the user (voluntarily or by court order) provides access to it.
It's a great distinction, the way you phrased it "utility vs discovery". I think it would be even better for their branding than their current strategy which is pitching 'minimalism'.
There's the Light Phone, but I haven't seen many reviews on it. And its successor, the Light Phone 2, isn't coming out until next year (and it's crowdfunded, so expect more delays).
But if you only wanted a phone for utility, buy an old iPhone 5s, or SE, install just the basics and leave it at that. If you have self-control problems, create a new Apple account and write and put its password in safe so you can't install new apps on a whim. The smaller screen of the 5s will also force you to wait until you're at your computer to do anything lengthy. Or change it to greyscale mode to make the other tasks more unattractive.
I personally use a red color filter with this setting. Reduces nightime blue light exposure. But one bonus is that the red phone is also way less compelling.
Wikpedia(1) says in the US its actually: Facebook, Facebook Messenger, YoutTube, Google Maps, Google Search, Google Play, Gmail, Instagram, Apple Music and Amazon
For other countries you just have to swap out Messenger for Whatsapp and such...but otherwise its basically the same.
Mind you this includes preinstalled apps!
So I'd say if anything, someone should build a Facebook phone, without all the other crap like phone, email and sms apps :)
I can guarantee that the browser is more used for googling than the Google Search app, for example.
Maybe you are overestimating how much people use the browser at scale?
1) Google maps. This is so much better than using a built-in or dashboard-mount GPS that it would be hard to go back.
2) Podcasts. I listen to these in the car and having a good app for them is nice.
Ultimately, I decided to delete the apps on my phone that were sucking up my time, but it takes a good amount of self control not to install some of the new ones, and I still succumb to checking my notifications more than I'd like.
I would love the product you are describing though. In particular, I remember my old Nokia had like a week of battery life and I'd be willing to give up a bunch of functionality for that alone.
1) Maps - I try to look at an online map before I leave for a place. If the directions are just too complicated I'll print the last leg or so. This has gotten me temporarily lost before, but figuring it out on my own makes for an adventure (definitely not for everybody) and significantly increases my retention of the geography of the area. I do miss real-time traffic-informed routing, though (i.e., Waze).
2) Podcasts - My dumb-phone has an MP3 player, but the UI was so bad (especially for longer tracks like podcasts) that I ended up buying a used iPod Nano. Works great for me.
Downside is the phone is thick ("is that a flip-phone in your pocket, or...") and the UI is clunky, and sometimes it crashes when family send me large files over MMS. I'm seriously considering that Light Phone 2 someone linked above. Seems about perfect.
What I'm going to try is:
1. Have phone forget home and office wifi
2. Turn cellular off for some distracting apps. (Including stuff like email which doesn't require a fast response)
3. Put those apps on their own internet app page
Then, go somewhere with wifi and only use those apps there. I have enough data that my regular use of other apps won't be an issue.
In Cuba, I could only get internet at wifi parks. Apart from that my phone was a wonderful non distracting device which let me set timers, take notes, voice recordings, photos, view offline maps, translate things, played saved podcasts etc
It felt good to have my phone with me at all times, like it augmented things. At home it feels like something I have to keep away.
This may not work, as I can just flip on cell data for those apps. If it doesn't work I'll search for a different solution. But I'm hoping the physical segregation of apps will be enough as a cue.
Alter Ego's concept is one I've run across:
So I'm screwed either way.
The onus should not be on the manufacturer to address addiction. But instead, provide means to combat addiction. Apple has that notification toggle. What more do we want, auto lock after X hours of usage. This will probably be harsh but how about learn some self-discipline. If a stepping program is needed, then implement that. Like to ween people off. But it shouldn't be a constant. Why are you checking your phone so much? Why aren't you out doing something, or talking to someone? If you don't want to do that, why are you complaining about checking your phone so much.
That is to say some people are introverts. They don't want to talk much. The smartphone allows them to better socialize, and keep to their habits.
I've noticed since I upgraded to a pixel. I find myself subconsciously pressing the fingerprint authentication while it's in my pocket. Not looking at it, but just pressing it feeling it unlock. I came to this realization the other day. I was reminded of some of my other addictive behaviors. I'm looking at dumber phones now actually.
I've recently downgraded in a way. My biggest use of my phone was for music. I grabbed an old iPod nano and put Rockbox on it. Largely leaving my phone in my backpack. I've also eyed the recent Nokia phones.
I can relate to your iPod story. For me, smartphone has been mostly for reading. I used Kindle among other apps on my phone. Having recently bought a Kindle my iPhone sits untouched in my pocket.
I turned my screen black and white, which supposedly lessens the addictiveness. You can also invert the colors for cool matrix like effect... if you are into 90's Winamp Themes.
You mentioned Night Shift and I think it actually is a great compromise.
The addictiveness of smartphones isn't a "byproduct" of these devices. It is the product.
I've been using my Apple Watch as my sole form of communication for 3 months now, it's great.
What do you do for taking notes? Do you have a system for processing later on a phone or a computer?
Any apps like whatsapp where you can't initiate a message? How do you get around it?
Do you carry a phone? If not, do you carry a camera?
I'm interested in doing the same myself.
And then this:
"You should be able to see exactly how you spend your time and, if you wish, moderate your behaviour accordingly."
If anyone needs to use an app to check whether they're spending too much time looking at apps, then it's game over. If we need to regularly consult a computer to determine how to live our lives without consulting the computer too much, it's game over.
Is society really in this much trouble, that people are writing articles asking for tech giants to save us from tech products? In so many ways that is like giving up as a thoughtful being, formerly in control of your own life and decisions, but now admitting you are merely a fish. Worse than a fish because of what you've lost. You once had organic direction and intuition, but now have an app for that.
> I think that manufacturers and app developers need to take on this responsibility, before government regulators decide to step in.
Tim Cook recently said, "I think the best regulation is no regulation, is self-regulation". And Tony Fadell expresses a similar idea here. That no regulation is the best idea and that companies should "behave" so that the status quo of no regulation continues.
But how do they keep these opinions in the face of all the enormous evidence that companies are very specifically designed to be unable to self-regulate? The very structure of a corporation today means it is incentivized to sneak by and almost break as many laws as possible to be short-term profitable. This is incongruent with long-term health, growth, capitalism, and everything else, because it is a strong forcing factor towards very bad corporate behaviour. Constantly lobbying for "no regulation" or to act quickly before those big-bad-regulators come in to protect consumers from poison and addiction makes no sense.
Companies will behave badly as long as the law allows it. Suggesting that the companies should behave better while suggesting that there should be absolutely no consequence for bad behaviour legally is a bizarre doubethink. I don't get it.
This quote was made with regard specifically to Facebook's recent problems with privacy, and Cook then immediately said: “However, I think we’re beyond that here.” Clearly he thinks regulation can be necessary sometimes, and specifically he has been an advocate for user privacy. I don't know that he intended these words to be applied generally to all companies for all issues.
> But how do they keep these opinions in the face of all the enormous evidence that companies are very specifically designed to be unable to self-regulate?
1. I don't think companies are "specifically designed to be unable to self-regulate." Where did you get that from? While it may be true that this is often the case, it seems odd to suggest that this is a specific part of the design of a corporation.
2. Apple has self-regulated with regards to user privacy and security, in ways that other companies have not. They have deliberately made themselves known for not selling user data, and have drawn direct comparisons between themselves and other companies for not collecting significant amounts of user data to be used for any purpose.
I dunno, your points don't really seem very well researched. You said "Companies will behave badly as long as the law allows it" and I certainly agree with this to an extent (and this seems to be your main point), but your overly strong statements ("corporations ... break as many laws as possible") reduce the effectiveness of your thesis.
If there is even a slightest chance of a hundred-billion dollar corporation ignoring morals and helping foreign powers install a dictator and destroy truth in publishing and trust in America, then it should be clear that Regulation was required from the start. There is no "oops now we get it we should have had regulation for this particular instance". You can't do that, it's too late. Regulation was required from the beginning. It always is.
> 1. I don't think companies are "specifically designed to be unable to self-regulate." Where did you get that from? While it may be true that this is often the case, it seems odd to suggest that this is a specific part of the design of a corporation.
There's another reply to me asking this, but I'm not sure how to respond. It just seems obvious to me that the tragedy of the commons situation that results from raw competition (and enshrined in corporate structure, tax law, etc) results in corporations being incentivized to find ways "around the rules" to get a competitive "advantage" over others.
> Apple has self-regulated with regards to user privacy and security, in ways that other companies have not.
You don't know this, though. You can't know, because you can by definition never know what "self-regulation" a company might be doing. From the outside, all Apple is doing here is marketing material. You can't know what their self-regulation means.
By the way, when Facebook was new nobody would have guessed that it might be involved in a Russian plot to influence a presidential election more than a decade in the future, so regulation would not have been proposed anyway.
And back in the 90s, the Justice Department claimed Microsoft was a monopoly that could only be stopped by government action. And then over the next few decades, Microsoft was knocked off its pedestal by companies and market trends that nobody anticipated. If it really had been a monopoly, that wouldn't have been possible.
Governments have a pretty bad track record of predicting the future, especially regarding the interaction between technology and culture.
> You can't know what their self-regulation means.
You also can't know what internal steps a company like Facebook has taken to deal with government regulations like GDPR. But you can measure outcomes. Given that regulations are intended to produce outcomes, that's what you ought to be measuring anyway.
My first point was that you conveniently left off the part of the quote where Tim Cook says that he thinks regulation is necessary sometimes. You only included the part that indicated that he felt that "the best regulation is no regulation", which supports your agenda much better than the part where he effectively says "but sometimes we should have regulation because it can be necessary." I'm with you that regulation is always necessary to some extent, but I think you misrepresented Cook's statement to further your points, which is disingenuous.
> It just seems obvious to me
This is not a valid justification for claiming that something was "designed" in a particular way. I could just as well say: "It just seems obvious to me that cars are specifically designed to be able to kill people with great efficiency". Are they good at killing people? Yes. Is that their "design"? Well... no. To claim so would be silly, would it not?
My analogy is somewhat incorrect, of course: cars cannot regulate themselves, cars are not organizations of people, yadda yadda. The point of this analogy was merely that you cannot claim that something was "designed" in a particular way and justify it by saying "well it seems obvious".
I think companies are designed to make money, through whichever means is most profitable. I think they often choose not to self-regulate in the interest of making money. But I do not think that companies, as an abstract concept, were "very specifically designed to be unable to self-regulate". It is completely possible for a company to self-regulate. They just usually don't. It's a different thing.
> You don't know this, though. You can't know, because you can by definition never know what "self-regulation" a company might be doing.
(This is nitpicky of me, but your statement implies that it is impossible to know the self-regulation of any company regardless of circumstances. This is not true, because the people inside the company who deal with the regulation would know about it. You also assumed that I could not have knowledge of such regulation at Apple, which you will see is also not the case.)
I think what you mean is that it is impossible for someone who is separate from the company to know the company's self-regulation, because such regulation is internal and is only upheld by the company itself from the inside, and that therefore an outside observer without direct internal knowledge of the subject matter cannot know whether they are being shown true self-regulation or marketing material.
This is correct in general, I think, although it is a rather cynical view of things.
There are exceptions, though. Consider the case of Siri.
Siri is, as I'm sure you know, meant to be a personal assistant able to help users with anything they may need to do on their phone. Siri has competitors, such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
Siri was the first widespread personal assistant that kind-of worked, but she was quickly surpassed by Google. Why? Simple: data and privacy.
Google collects significant amounts of data from its users. Most of this collection is automatically collected and automatically tagged. Google defends such actions because "No human sees it" or something. (I'm fuzzy on the specific details, but please note that I am not making any claim about the ethicality of Google's actions here.)
This data is funneled into the Google Assistant, which made the Assistant significantly better than Siri in a short time. How did Siri get passed up so quickly?
Because Apple refuses to collect such significant amounts of data from its users. There are tons of internal documents governing the collection and storage of user data, and Apple uses a very broad definition of "sensitive" with regards to "sensitive user data". I know this because I worked at Apple last year (briefly, as an intern), and for part of a project I had to browse through some of these documents to ensure I was adhering to the correct guidelines. They take user privacy very seriously.
The fact that Siri — which was originally the most advanced personal assistant — was so quickly passed by Google is evidence of Apple's self-regulation. The continued stunted growth of Siri is further evidence that Apple did not relent in its self-regulation of user privacy. If Apple had wanted to, they could have collected copious amounts of user data in short order, and this data could have been used to greatly impact the development of Siri. But that didn't happen, because such data is not collected by Apple as a rule.
In general, I think you're right: self-regulation is nearly impossible to detect from the outside. But there are cases, such as this one, where there is user-visible evidence to the existence of self-regulation. All such evidence would stem from negative results for the company (e.g. Siri's poor performance, in this example), but we can assume the evidence is genuine because companies are incentivized to project themselves in a positive light wherever possible.
A recently discussed clear example of that is privacy in the EU - the original cookie law was a gentle nudge to encourage the market to self-regulate. The market didn't, so now we have GDPR.
You take this as a fact, so do the billionare execs at Apple, but it just isn't true. You can define "best" in however way you want to make it true, but any reasonable definition won't let that happen. Best for whom? Best for the billionares? Maybe, but that's not best for the rest of us.
Regulation is important in a healthy capitalistic society. Regulation by government, which is theoretically run by elected representatives, is not a bad thing like you suggest it is. It is a steadying hand that helps a market and a society run stably, rather than run amok with fast-paced greed that outpaces ability to sustain itself.
The best regulation is not regulation that the hundreds of millions of people in the USA are not even allowed to know exists because it is a corporate secret. No, that is not the best regulation. The best regulation is carefully written, sustainable, fair, reasonable regulation written with unbiased industry experts, the population itself, the government itself.
Trusting the most elite, rich class of secretive billionaries in the world to self-regulate is not the "best regulation", not even for them. They will get more money if they just agreed and allowed normal government processes to continue without their lobbying and interference to create a no-regulation environment that wreaks havoc on the rest of society.
Can you elaborate on how corporation today are structured toward short term profitability? and how we can change it to balance between "do no evil" vs. profitability?
Like the game industry did with the ESRB.
Otherwise, society is likely to devolve further into ground-lighted sidewalk crossings with distracted people hunched over, oblivious to everyone else and missing life. Tinder: nuf said.
[Insert Banksy smartphone lovers gaze pic]
A few days ago Apple approved my app that does exactly that.
Currently it is free. Search the iOS store for StudyCity. I am very grateful to Apple for approving my app. When you make a "unique" app, there is no guarantee that Apple will approve it. FYI, my project email is email@example.com The website is StudyCity.org
Looks like they already have, lol (all the way to the bank).
I made Space
which help with individual apps.
An Android launcher called Siempo
is a more complete app control system.
When I see an article like this, all I can think of is that this is the angle the FBs and Googles of the world will use to give Apple it's own share of social responsibility problems.
Hey, yes, we collect all data, but Apple, you really should be doing something about phone addiction. Especially since you, Apple, have "system-level control across devices".
Definitely understand how that comes across as conspiracy theoryish, but the timing is too inviting.
This is more of a culture issue that should be addressed in schools from an early age ( at least in my opinion ).
The actual UK article TechCrunch is basing its summary on
To pick Up Faddell's analogy, this is like letting big sugar regulate itself. It doesn't and has spent millions pushing red herrings like 'low fat' to protect its profit machine.
In a parallel universe 'How to take on Big Sugar and win'
'Camilla Cavendish, the initiator of the UK’s tax on sugar, says it’s time to start treating it as nicotine'
Money is the only language the tech platform barons speak too, despite all the posturing...
I believe that there is immense value in not having a smartphone.
It's a value that can't be packaged into a box and sold for the sticker price.
It's the value of being more engaged with your own life and the things that actually matter to you.
My mother uses her smartphone to connect with family who are far away. Pray tell how that's not being "engaged with her own life and things that actually matter to her"?