The New Temptation

Did you wake up today feeling like you’re missing out on something? Are you tempted to book your place in the queue for the revolutionary iPhone X?

I use Apple products every day but there’s something about the inevitable fanfare of their new product launches that concerns me. I’ll admit that it’s clever marketing but it always leaves me feeling quite unsettled.

The latest iPhones have been launched and once again they offer newer, better, must have features. So we now have the iPhone X, available from the first week of November, as well as the iPhone 8 and 8+ which will start selling before the end of this month. If you believe the hype, the new versions almost render the previous versions obsolete.

Apple has rolled out its much-anticipated iPhone X, a redesigned product of glass and stainless steel with an edge-to-edge display that Apple chief executive Tim Cook has described as, “the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone”.

The new iPhone features include wireless charging, an infrared camera and special hardware for facial recognition, which will replace the fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone. – ABC

I have certainly embraced new technology but I do worry about the relentless pursuit of the newest and latest.

Each upgrade or redesign is calculated to make us feel that the device in our hand is no longer worthy of our complete adoration. It’s time to move on to the next big thing and the next big thing is a shinier version of the last with features you didn’t know you needed until it was pointed out that you don’t have them.

Apple is not the issue.

Just in case you think this is a rant against Apple, it’s not. Just in case you think I’m just pointing the finger at others, I’m on the treadmill too. I don’t have the very latest of every ‘gadget’ but my eye is caught by the non-stop advancements in technology and a lot of the technology I own comes from the Apple factory.

I love music so I use my iPod Classic every day. I won an iPhone 6+ some years back and it’s excellent for both work and personal usage. (My phone battery died recently and I did the unthinkable. I paid to replace the battery rather than upgrading the phone.) I also regularly use my iPad at home and for work.

Apple isn’t the issue. The relentless push to have more and more of the very latest is what causes me to feel uneasy.

We may say that we’re buying new technology but we’re actually buying a promise. It’s the promise that a piece of technological hardware will make our life somehow better, more complete, but it’s a distraction and the promise is broken not long after we open the skilfully designed packaging.

My ‘old’ iPad, iPod and iPhone don’t cease to be functional when each new generation is released. They’re all several years old and several models out of date but interestingly enough, they still do what I need them to do.

It seems that we keep trying to fill every moment of every day with distractions that really don’t add anything to our quality of life and they certainly don’t answer the bigger life questions.

We feel that we need something new simply because it’s available and the thought of not have the latest causes some people to break out in cold sweats. And don’t tell me it’s about functionality. It’s about feeling that we’re missing out if we don’t have the latest. We imagine that it’s better whether it is or not.

We’ve let ourselves be duped into believing that satisfaction in life is just one more purchase away. The strange thing is that when the next new and shiny item is offered for sale we jump for it, demonstrating that the last item we thought would satisfy didn’t really improve our quality of life at all. If it did we wouldn’t need the latest version. Strangely enough, we refuse to learn the clearly obvious lesson and so we just repeat the cycle.

I’ve got news for you. It doesn’t stop and it will never satisfy.

All the latest gadgets, useful or not, are just distractions. They all cause us to take our eyes off what’s really important in life. They distract us from relationships, contemplation, relaxation, and spirituality.

So whether it’s the latest car, fashion, technology or anything else, make sure you know what you’re buying. Purchase what you need but don’t buy the hollow promises and distractions that inevitably come packaged with them.

We know that all the distractions don’t bring lasting happiness or joy but we keep pursuing them, refusing to learn that they’ll never satisfy. We keep chasing the distractions. We’re being distracted to death.

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Death by Distraction

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(This is an updated post, first written in 2012 at the time of the iPhone 5 launch.)

I’m conflicted. I use Apple products every day but there’s something about the inevitable fanfare of their new product launches that always concerns me. I’ll admit that it’s clever marketing but it always leaves me feeling quite unsettled.

The iPhone 6 is about to be launched and people will soon be scrambling to get their hands on the new technology. Many are guessing about what amazing features the new iPhone will have. People are also excited about the possibility of the launch of the iWatch.

I have certainly embraced new technology but I do worry about the relentless pursuit of the newest and latest. I read some years back of a young woman who loves Apple so much that she says she’d had about eight iPhones over just a couple of years. The number has probably continued to climb since then. For the life of me I can’t understand why anyone needs to be buying that many phones.

Apple is not the issue.

Just in case you think this is a rant against Apple, it’s not. I love music so I love the iPod that I received as a gift some years ago. My wife won an iPad and gave it to me. I use it all the time and find it very handy for a variety of purposes. I currently have an iPhone 4, the model before Siri. Most people would consider it prehistoric but I find it both fun and functional. It still does what I need it to do and if at some point it stops working, I’ll look at an upgrade. Apple isn’t the issue. The relentless push to have more and more of the very latest is what causes me to feel uneasy. Our constant need to cast off what is still doing what it needs to do simply to have a newer version with a few tweaks is troubling.

My ‘old’ iPad didn’t cease to be functional when the next generation and the one after that were released. My iPod is quite a few years old and several models out of date but interestingly enough, it still plays my favourite music. I actually wouldn’t mind a new iPod but not the latest and supposedly greatest model. If I get the chance I’m going for the classic. It’s bulkier and has less features but it will fit heaps more music and strangely enough, that’s what it’s about for me.

It seems that we keep trying to fill every moment of every day with distractions that really don’t add anything to our quality of life and they certainly don’t answer the bigger life questions. We feel that we need something new simply because it’s available and the thought of not have the latest causes some people to break out in cold sweats. And don’t tell me it’s about functionality. It’s about feeling that we’re missing out if we don’t have the latest. We imagine that it’s better whether it is or not.

It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes all over again. We’ve let ourselves be duped into believing that satisfaction in life is just one more purchase away.

The strange thing is that when then next new and shiny item is offered for sale we jump for it, demonstrating that the last item we thought would satisfy didn’t really improve our quality of life at all. If it did we wouldn’t need the latest version.

Strangely enough we refuse to learn the clearly obvious lesson and so we just repeat the cycle.

We may say that we’re buying new technology but we’re actually buying a promise. It’s the promise that a piece of technological hardware will make our life somehow better, more complete, but it’s a distraction and the promise is broken not long after we open the skilfully designed box.

I’ve got news for you. It doesn’t stop and it will never satisfy.

All the latest gadgets, useful or not, are just distractions. They all cause us to take our eyes off what’s really important in life. They distract us from relationships, contemplation, relaxation and spirituality. We know that all the distractions don’t bring lasting happiness or joy but we keep pursuing them, refusing to learn that they’ll never satisfy. We keep chasing the distractions. We’re being distracted to death.

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How many apps do you actually use?

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Apple has 50 billion reasons to smile this week. They’ve reached yet another incredible milestone.

CUPERTINO, California?May 16, 2013?Apple® today announced that customers have downloaded over 50 billion apps* from the revolutionary App Store?. Customers are downloading more than 800 apps per second at a rate of over two billion apps per month on the App Store. The 50 billionth app was Say the Same Thing by Space Inch, LLC, which was downloaded by Brandon Ashmore from Mentor, Ohio who received a $10,000 App Store Gift Card to commemorate this historic milestone.

“Apple would like to thank our incredible customers and developers for topping 50 billion apps downloaded,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “The App Store completely transformed how people use their mobile devices and created a thriving app ecosystem that has paid out over nine billion dollars to developers. We’re absolutely floored to cross this milestone in less than five years.”

The App Store opened in July 2008 with 500 apps. Since its introduction, Apple’s incredible developer community has created an app for doing almost everything imaginable on an iPhone®, iPad® and iPod touch®. – Apple

*50 billion unique downloads excluding re-downloads and updates.

I’m wondering how many of those 50 billion downloaded apps are actually being used. I think that most of us download a lot of apps that we don’t end up using or that we use for a short time before finding something that does the job better. (Which results in us downloading yet another app.)

I took a quick look at my iPhone this morning to find that I have 102 apps installed. I use about 15 on a regular basis and another 15 on odd occasions. That’s only 30 out of 102 apps in use. I’m guessing it’d be a similar situation if I did a count on my iPad.

So how about you? Grab your phone or iPad now and do a quick check. Let me know the numbers.

I asked the question on radio this morning and had several similar responses. “I have 165 apps but use 26.” “65 apps and use 20 of them regularly.” My family has 120 apps on our phones. computers etc. I would probably only use about 15 of those on a regular basis.”

Once you’ve checked your devices just leave a comment with the results

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Kindle Fire versus iPad

Amazon has done very well with their Kindle eReaders but they’ve now turned up the heat on the iPad with the Kindle Fire.

The Kindle Fire is much more than a colour version of the popular Kindle. There’ll be apps, games. thousands of movies and TV shows, music and web browsing. Some are suggesting that the new tablet will provide new competition for Apple’s iPad.

The new device is being released in the US on the 15th of November but Amazon is taking advance orders now.

The imminent release of the Kindle Fire means that other Kindles in the Amazon range will become more affordable. There will even be other Kindles joining the range.

There are two types of companies: those that work hard to charge customers more, and those that work hard to charge customers less. Both approaches can work. We are firmly in the second camp.

We are excited to announce four new products: the all-new Kindle for only $79, two new touch Kindles – Kindle Touch and Kindle Touch 3G – for $99 and $149, and a new class of Kindle – Kindle Fire – a beautiful full color Kindle for movies, TV shows, music, books, magazines, apps, games, web browsing and more, for only $199.

These are high-end products – the best Kindles we’ve ever made. Kindle and Kindle Touch have the most-advanced E Ink display technology available, and the 3G Kindle Touch adds free 3G wireless – no monthly fees and no annual contracts. Kindle Fire brings everything we’ve been working on at Amazon for 15 years together into a single, fully-integrated experience for customers – instant access to Amazon’s massive selection of digital content, a vibrant color IPS touchscreen with extra-wide viewing angle, a 14.6 ounce design that’s easy to hold with one hand, a state-of-the-art dual core processor, free storage in the Amazon Cloud, and an ultra-fast mobile browser – Amazon Silk – available exclusively on Kindle Fire.

We are building premium products and offering them at non-premium prices.

The announcement of the new range has already caused a rise in Amazon’s share price.

I’m happy to stick with my original iPad with its larger screen but I’m wondering whether this new device and its competetive pricing will put pressure on Apple to review iPad prices.

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Could You Switch Off?

After reading one of the questions on one my favourite blogs yesterday morning (That’s My Answer) I was thinking about how addicted we have become to electronic gadgets. Everywhere we go these days people are glued to gadgets of various kinds. I challenge you to walk down just about any street around the world without seeing at least one person, if not several, on a mobile phone.

Earlier this year while I was on jury duty I travelled by bus and train into the city every day. It was definitely the minority that weren’t plugged in to some kind of gadget.

Is your life cluttered by gadgets? Have all our gadgets improved our lives?

Would you cope if you had to shut off all your electronic gadgets for an entire week?

Could you find the off button on your mobile phone and leave it off for a week? How about your computers, your TV, iPod, video games? Would you last the week? Would you last 24 hours? Maybe you could rediscover real books or spend your time in real conversations.

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