Sam­sung woes show how de­pen­dent we’ve be­come on smart­phones

‘De­vice ob­ses­sion is deep­en­ing’

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

Tethered as we are to our smart­phones, Sam­sung ask­ing users of its fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 to “power down and stop us­ing the de­vice” is not just an in­con­ve­nience. It’s crazy.

Smart­phones have be­come ex­ten­sions of our­selves, the last thing we look at be­fore fall­ing asleep and the first thing we grab in the morn­ing. Aban­don­ing them is all but un­think­able, even at the din­ner ta­ble, even on the toi­let.

Risk­ing a bat­tery fire might seem like a small price to pay for ob­ses­sively check­ing your lat­est In­sta­gram “likes,” catch­ing up on email, Skyp­ing your grand­kids across the coun­try, get­ting di­rec­tions, con­firm­ing your travel itin­er­ary, read­ing the news, search­ing for a din­ner recipe, hail­ing a ride and so on. For those trav­el­ing with chil­dren, a long flight with­out a smart­phone to serve as dis­trac­tion is akin to tor­ture.

Power down and stop us­ing the de­vice? You might as well go live in a cave in a dis­tant moun­tain (if you can get there, since you no longer have GPS). Ac­cord­ing to the Pew Re­search Cen­ter, 43 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion uses a smart­phone. Rates are high­est in places such as South Korea (88 per­cent), Aus­tralia (77 per­cent) and Is­rael (74 per­cent).

And use it they do. We check Face­book so of­ten that the com­pany no longer just mea­sures its users on a monthly ba­sis. A more im­por­tant num­ber is how many peo­ple check in on a daily ba­sis. In June, more than 1 bil­lion peo­ple checked Face­book on a mo­bile de­vice at least once a day.

De­vice us­age re­port

In a re­port on global mo­bile de­vice us­age, the con­sult­ing firm Deloitte found the ob­vi­ous, namely that “de­vice ob­ses­sion is deep­en­ing” and that peo­ple are us­ing their phones for “every­thing from watch­ing TV to sim­ply cross­ing the road.” Some of us even use the phones while cross­ing the road, which is not the safest thing in the world.

A small 2015 study by Not­ting­ham Trent Uni­ver­sity that tracked 18- to 33year-olds found that they checked their phones an av­er­age of 85 times a day of­ten with­out re­al­iz­ing. En­tire in­dus­tries have sprung up to try to pry us away from our gad­gets, such as phone-free sum­mer camps for adults, anti-tex­ting-and-driv­ing apps and apps that track how much time you spend on your phone.

As such, it’s not sur­pris­ing that smart­phone own­ers sud­denly de­prived of this ex­tra limb are find­ing ways around the in­con­ve­nience. “I am cur­rently us­ing my tablet that has AT&T num­ber sync. I have a Blue­tooth head­set con­nected that al­lows me to make and re­ceive calls. It also can re­ceive texts, but it works mar­ginal at best,” said Leo Lan­ge­lier III, who lives in North Ber­wick, Maine.

His Note 7 - the re­place­ment model started to emit smoke in the car while he was trav­el­ing with is fam­ily. While his fam­ily is fine, he has not been able to get a re­place­ment and said he will be re­ac­ti­vat­ing an older phone he has at home un­til he can get every­thing cleared up.

Adam Siemaszko, who re­turned his Note 7 to a Best Buy in Man­hat­tan, said a co-worker was kind enough to lend him an old iPhone 5S un­til I can get a new one. He de­cided to get the new Pixel phone from Google, as he’s lost his trust in Sam­sung. But there’s a five- to sixweek wait.

“Be­ing phone­less is aw­ful,” he said. “What I don’t think a lot of peo­ple think about is just how re­liant we have been with the mod­ern flag­ships.”

Siemaszko said he got used to tak­ing notes on the Note 7 us­ing its spe­cial S pen and run­ning two apps side by side at once. The iPhone 5S came out in 2013 and even the lat­est iPhone, the 7, lacks these op­tions. “I feel in­cred­i­bly lim­ited on this 5S,” he said. “They took my tool away, and the only way to get some­thing else is to jump through hoops.”

—AP

SEOUL: In this Mon­day, Oct. 10, 2016, file photo, South Korean high school stu­dents try out Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics Galaxy Note 7 smart­phones at the com­pany’s shop.

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