Thursday, February 25, 2016

Are smartphones smart enough to become dumb?

Yesterday there was an article in the FT titled 'Digitally weary users switch to ‘dumb’ phones'.

The article was really all about how some people are trying to 'get off the grid' and have time when they are not bombarded by e-mails, messages, alerts and all the other digital stuff that consumes so much of our lives. This is the article  - beware it is behind a paywall.

I found the article interesting for a different reason. Last week a very old friend, in both senses, was taken into hospital. She is digitally up there with the best of them but her hands and eyes no long function that well. I thought I would solve the problem by buying an 'simple' phone from Doro.

After setting the thing up I was left thinking that it would have been much easier if our ultra smart phones were capable of acting dumb, rather than having to buy a phone that is specially manufactured to be dumb.

The Doro phone was fine, although some of the interface and the instructions need work done.

As you can see from the video, the Easy Mode for Android smartphones goes a long way to delivering this ability to make a smartphone dumb.

On the iPhone I can get an Easy Mode app and I can use a wide range of accessibility options. But nothing (as far as I can see) that is a single key setting delivering a cut down interface.

At different times we all want different levels of sophistication from our smartphones. This is not just a requirement of older consumers. A simple way of changing the interface to match our complexity requirements should be a basic function of the operating system. That must be the way to go. Dick Stroud

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