Smartphones Are Really Kind Of Dumb

Aren’t smartphones great?  They take care of everything, right?  Well, maybe not everything.  But they’re totally smart and intuitive, aren’t they?  After all, smart IS part of the name.  Personally, I don’t think we’re there yet.  Smartphones have made our lives easier in many ways. But they still have a lot of things that could be improved.  In fact, I have come up with five reasons that smartphones aren’t all that smart.  Yet.

Battery Life And Charging

Apple recently caught a lot of heat because they were purposefully slowing down older phones.  Why?  Because the batteries were wearing out, and would last longer if the phone did less.  So, Apple sent an update to make the phone work slower.  Oh, and the age of some of these phones was less than two years.

This is unbelievable to me.

Here we are on the cutting edge of battery technology, right? I mean, we have entire cars that can run on battery.  Yet, we can’t figure out a way to make a phone battery last longer than two years?  That’s ridiculous.

You hear advice about how to make them last longer.  Don’t charge overnight.  Don’t overcharge.  Charge only between certain percentages.

Come on.  You can’t tell me that overcharging couldn’t be prevented by shutting off the input, for one idea.  I simply can’t believe that smart phones continue to be plagued by something as basic as the battery.

Rogue Apps

I have a Samsung S7.  A few weeks ago it started acting up at random times.  It would slow down to a crawl.  This was most noticeable when I was using Chrome.

I tried a bunch of different apps that were supposed to identify problem apps.  Nothing was identified.  I looked at a bunch of internal logs to try to see what was happening.  Zero.  I spent a ton of time tweaking Chrome since that’s where many problems originated.  No difference.

Finally, I started disabling apps, and caught the culprit.  Ironically, it was AVG, a program designed to prevent bad things from happening to your phone.  As soon as I got rid of it, all of my slowness went away.

As it turns out, most phones (allegedly) have enough built in that you don’t need a virus/malware scanner.  I was using it for a ‘Find My Device’ option, but that was easily re-configured elsewhere.

Still, I couldn’t believe that there is nothing built into the basic Operating System to flag apps that could be problematic.  AVG had to have gone corrupt or something and was consuming mass resources.  A truly smart phone would have identified this.

User Priority

When I’m using my phone, I want my phone to pay attention to me.  That sounds simple, right?  But it isn’t always the case.  If the phone is updating apps, sometimes my typing is delayed.  Unacceptable!  If I’m in the middle of typing my unlock code, then don’t turn the screen off just because it’s been six seconds since I hit the button to wake up the device.

To me, it should be a basic function that user interaction takes priority.  Smartphones should never treat a user like a background process!

Storage

Phones have increased the amount of built in storage over the last couple of years.  Still, it’s often not enough.  For many phones, you can add an SD card for extra storage.

Sounds like this solves everything, right?  Well, that’d be smart.  Turns out, the answer is often more complicated.  See, internal storage and external storage are completely different.  And, most apps will only work on internal storage.  So, can you use your extra storage to install a lot of apps? Probably not.  All that it’s really good for is to offload videos, music, and pictures.  Even then, getting that working properly is often a chore. More on that in a minute.

Why is it like this?  I have no idea.  When I look this up, developers have lots of reasons why, but in the end it’s just mumbo jumbo.  I mean, to me and probably many other simple minds, if you add extra storage, it should be as simple as plug it in and away we go. Let’s get going on this, OK?!?

File Management

This one drives me nuts.  Maybe this is me just not being as tech savvy as I once was.  I don’t know.  But, whenever I want to find something, it takes me forever to find it.

If I want to upload a picture that I took to Facebook, I have to scroll through a bunch of different albums.  If I am in Facebook and take a picture, it will put it up easily, but good luck finding it later.  When I’m in Chrome and download a menu, it brings it up right then.  But after that?  Who knows?  Next time I go to look for it, I can sometimes find it.  But, most often, I end up re-downloading it again.

It seems like every app wants to put things in a different place.  Which I understand, but it doesn’t work well when I want to find something.  There has to be a better way.

image from Morguefile courtesy of DodgertonSkillhause

Smartphones Makers Need To Watch Star Trek

I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.  That show had a lot of technology.  One thing I noticed was that it was cool but it was also simple.  When they wanted to use technology, they pressed a button or two.  That was all it took.  It wasn’t complicated.  The computer paid attention and delivered on commands.  There wasn’t delays or confusion.  That sounds pretty smart to me!

One of the catchphrases on that show was when the Captain would say “Make it so.” He’d often say this when he just wanted something to happen and didn’t care about the details.  That’s kind of where I’m at with all of these things.  I just think that a smart device needs to act smarter.  Those are my ideas.  So, hopefully someone out there listens.  Let’s ‘make it so’.

Readers, what do you think of your smartphone? Is it as smart as advertised?  What would you like to see your smartphone do that it can’t today?

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10 thoughts on “Smartphones Are Really Kind Of Dumb

  1. You’re right, they are pretty dumb. My new laptop has a cool battery saver function. It only charges to 50%. This works well for me.
    It should not be that hard to implement an 80% cap on charging for the phone or something like that. I’m sure the phones will improve. It’s not that user friendly right now.

    • I hope so but now it seems that the upgrades that are released with each new rollout are less and less impressive. I think you will need to see some of the things I mentioned be given more attention for people to really care about what number they have at the end of their phone.

  2. Hahaha, very true. I remember I held onto my non-smart cellphone for forever. I was SHOCKED that smartphones couldn’t make it through one day without being charged. My Nokia could go a week on one charge.

    It’s hard because smartphones are normal in our society. I’ve been tempted to go back to a cheap brick phone, but my employer would be less-than-thrilled about that, since I use my phone for work (social media, calls, etc.).

    I think we can be, well, smarter about our smartphones. I switched from a Verizon contract plan for Google Fi. I’m paying a *quarter* of what I paid on my last plan, for the same level of service. It’s nuts!
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    • Well, it is basically a mini-computer and it’s doing a lot more stuff than a simple brick phone, so the fact that they need to be charged every day is actually not one of the things that bugs me.

  3. I’m definitely shocked by how easily phone/laptop batteries can get overcharged and/or start dying on their own.

    That said, I still think smartphones are pretty amazing. Then again, we just got our first smartphone a few months ago. So perhaps the novelty will have worn off in a year or so.

  4. Ironically, just moments before cruising over to your site, I was contemplating replacing the land lines with a smartphone. Argh! Sounds like asking for even MORE aggravation.

    Apple’s batteries for all its mobile devices run down with amazing speed — this is especially true of the new MacBook Pro, which runs out of gas every time you take a deep breath.

    Still: landlines are going away, and then we’ll be stuck with these glitchy devices. Cox is going to shut down its copper lines and is forcing people here to switch to digital phone service — and no, their equipment not compatible with your robo-call-blocking device and no, Cox will most certainly not provide NoMoRobo. Better to go with VoIP: Ooma charges a sixth the price of Cox and it lets you use NoMoRobo for a very modest cost.
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