Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
 
Thought for the day: How smart is consumption?

Reading tech sites I can't help noticing all the buzz around smart phones, like Google's Android system, or the new iPhone 4. And then I look at them, and wonder what is so smart about them? These machines are very well suited for content consumption: Reading texts, watching videos, listening to music. But they are rather lousy at content creation, even writing a text on an iPhone is difficult. Developers write apps *for* the iPhone, not *on* the iPhone. Aren't those "smart" phones ultimately not just as passively dumb as lets say a TV?
Comments:
I think the "smart" part is that the device can do many different things (not just a phone and a preset list of applications)- but the user can install applications to change the function of the device. For example; I downloaded a "bubble level" application for my iPhone to level my trailer tent (I forgot to bring the real instrument). Thus the device is much different than a TV, where the TV is used to do only one thing - show moving images, while the smartphone can be much more than just a content consumption device.
 
Well, to be fair I think the content creation is more in the form of movie and music editting, blogging, twittering and the like rather than programming.

I'm pretty sure these sorts of media editing and blogging-type activities are the source of the buzz you speak of. It is pretty cool to think that people can mix songs or cut video clips in moments, anywhere. I don't know that programming on anything but a PC is viable.

Also, with practice the Iphone becomes extrememly easy to write on, with buttons much larger than a regular flip-phone and full qwerty.
 
Check out the new iMovie app for iPhone 4:

http://www.apple.com/iphone/features/imovie.html
 
Yes they are. They are called 'smart', just like WoW, which is neither a world nor about warcraft.

Do you want to tell us that you don't think that these things are worth the money or do you really wonder why they are called 'smart' ?
 
This is why I dislike the iPad - it just seems like a different 'shop front' to iTunes.


@Nils

It sounds like you have the makings of a blog entry about naming conventions. Someone might read it from a 'smart' phone. Possibly.
 
IIRC they're called smart for historical reasons, because they are capable of upgrading their software on the fly. (ie. downloading and installing apps.)

So the o/s actually is quite smart compared to a normal phone. Can't help you with the user though.
 
Felsir pretty much hit the nail on the head here. It's a smart device because the device can adapt and change functionality on the fly, unlike a fixed device like say a TV or DVD player.
 
Honestly that's kind of a stodgy old man blog post. The devices can do all sorts of random stuff considerably past the capabilities of a TV. At the very least one can deal with email and look up movie times. Owning a smart phone class cellular device changes ones approach to computing (probably even daily life). Many things that required sitting down to a machine now happen basically anyplace.
 
As another example of "smart" functionality, I regularly use my iPhone for its GPS. It figures out where I am and tells me where to go. That's a lot smarter than my TV!
 
"Smart" phones aren't passively dumb because they have to compute the data in order to show you the content, or enable the creation of content. A TV, at best, has to only decode a signal (and that's only if it's digital).

The "Smart" in "Smart Phone" just means a relative increase in capability to compute as compared to a phone that doesn't have the capability.

E.g., a regular phone can show you e-mail, but a smart phone can recognize phone numbers and addresses within the e-mail and present the consumer with links to call that number or map that address.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
IMO, "smart' referes to flexibility

You don't need a new phone to get new functionality. You can get a new version of your software without having to buy a new phone.

You can run niche software rather than just a few mass market applications (mail, calendar, ) that appeal to most.

I believe the advantage that Apple had was they are essentially a software company. The typical phone hardware manufacturer just did not get how important software was.
 
Not SMART? Tobold, how young are you?

We can throw a rock at the time we had $80 calculators, then vastly expanded television programming (10channels!), then portable video viewage (if you had a camel to carry the damn thing), then crappy little home computers that were primarily used to play hand after hand of solitaire.

Jesus kids nowadays and their newfangled toys...
 
About 50,000 years ago a caveman picked up a rock and said "what's with all these rocks? They are everywhere and they are useless!" Then his caveman buddy picked up the same rock, clubbed him over the head with it, used it to kill wild deer, and grind wheat into flour, etc.

5 years ago someone said "whats with all these hand held devices???..."
 
My question was more a philosophical, rhetorical one.

But I find it kind of funny that the answer seems to be that these are smart phones because they are smarter than their users. :)
 
Consumption, in the larger context, is actually quite stupid.

No matter what kind of technology we invent to create more food and water, we are ultimately limited to what the Earth can provide.

Considering that as a species we have run through a lot of the natural resources of the earth that are not renewable, it would make sense to consume less.

But of course, the glutton Capitalism wants, nay, it needs, for humans to buy more and more, all the time.

How much of the Earth's resources have we wasted as a species?

What does this "smart" phone do that is actually "smart"?

/rant
 
As someone else has already mentioned, writing texts/emails is actually far easier on an iPhone - I have had mine for nearly 2 years and I wouldn't change it for anything (well, maybe for an upgrade to the iPhone 4!).

Texting is great as you can follow the thread of the conversation, unlike normal mobile phones, where the sent and received messages have to be accessed separately.

I have had smart phones in one shape or another for the last 6 years, but the iPhone is by far the best of them.

I would even go so far as to say that the iPhone 3G is better than the 3GS, but that is because of a few small niggly issues, such as no caps lock and the inability to user-define some contact information, to name just 2
 
@Daergel

You can enable caps lock in the settings app (General -> Keyboard).
 
Calling it smart is fine, I think. Most of them are very smart looking.

"Phone" however, that's a label that makes me increasingly uncomfortable. I use this thing to place something like four-five phone calls every day, for a total of an hour. In between those, I use it constantly for all that other stuff. Phone, really?
 
Guys, just because you can do something on the phones (that you only can do because they are programmed to do so) does not make them smart by the true definition of the word. it doesn't matter how much you want them to, they still can't do something they are not programmed to do. a "smart" phone should be able to do stuff other then what the core programs or third party apps tell them to.
 
A coincidence, but SLASHDOT (news for nerds) just linked to:

http://singularityhub.com/2010/06/14/exclusive-an-ai-physician-on-every-smartphone-an-xprize-challenge/
 
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