Productivity, smartphone and vanity

Here’s a new year, a new keynote from Apple and logically, a new iPhone! The eleventh of the name. It is Pro or not, more or less waterproof, allows any kind of gimmick with its cameras, and asks you to offload several hundred euros. Royally, Apple proposes to recycle your old iPhone to prevent you from leaving it forgotten at the bottom of a drawer. I quickly compared, thanks to Apple’s website, the differences, in terms of features, of my good old iPhone SE (which fits in my pocket and weighs only 116 grams) with the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro. Basically, outside the size of the screen (the SE is very small … but lightweight), a more powerful and intelligent processor, and waterproof (that’s an undeniable plus), everything else is pure vanity, totally useless to the improvement of my daily real and digital life. Here are basically some productivity elements with a smartphone, whether it’s iOS or Android.

Social network, useless trash!

Most social networks have no right to be on my phone. My smartphone has two functions: call (yes, we tend to forget that it’s its primary function) and offer me the mobile features I need when I don’t have my computer on. Thus, social networks, with the exception of Twitter and LinkedIn, are not present.

Qwant and Brave

Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, same fight: steal as much information as possible about your behavior to send you targeted advertising. Most users now seem inoculated to this constant monitoring, I prefer to do my searches with Qwant and surf with Brave (which has intercepted more than 37,000 unwanted trackers and ads in a month of use, that gives an idea of how much data Chrome, Safari or Edge pump), allowing me to focus on the essentials, limiting the influence of these giants of electronic surveillance (vast topic beautifully addressed in The Age of Surveillance Capitalism).

To-Do and Outlook

My tasks and appointments come everywhere with me. These two tools are the heart of my daily organization and my second memory of things that I must not forget. I mentioned To-Do in a previous post (in French), Outlook remaining the central pivot of organizing my calendar.

Connection, sync and VPN

With a five-, six- or seven-inch screen, a smartphone remains a small tool on which it’s hard to capture information, even with a Swiftkey keyboard (iOS 13 will finally get a better keyboard). It is therefore essential that the information in it can be synchronized with a cloud service and be found seamlessly on my PC (Windows or Mac). It is also essential that information can exist, be accessed and updated without a connection. Mainly because the 3, 4 or 5G connection is not always available, and with roaming, the rates are so generally prohibitive, that it is better not to activate data roaming. Sync should then be possible as soon as a preferred Wi-Fi network is available.

The final aspect is to use a VPN systematically to add a layer of encryption of communications and blur advertisers and the monitoring of the telephone operator.

Personal apps

Health, finances, hikes, audio book, press, music, I have a small set of apps that are used almost daily, some of which are essential to my productivity, like Audible which allows me to read in audio two or three books a month and so to intelligently occupy my travel time. I also mentioned the fact that an app that was not at least used weekly had nothing to do on my phone. There is usually a service or website that does what I might need once in a while. There’s no need to clutter my phone’s memory with an app that’s not in use.

Me, myself and I…

What about all the other so-called productivity applications, such as Office for example? No use!. I try quite a bit, I often test, uninstall quickly after finding the uselessness from a time-saving or efficiency-saving point of view. Once again, a smartphone is a tool, not a distraction. I recently heard that a child spends an average of two hours and twenty-two minutes in front of a screen a day. Knowing the mechanisms of addiction, which digital giants are fully aware of and entertain, choose your side: consumer (and often addict) or producer (and often active), follower or pilot! I chose and I just made the last of the choices, forbid my smartphone to go through the door of my bedroom!

So, am I going to replace my aging iPhone SE? For Android, it’s an unambiguous No, being deeply anti-Google. For a new iPhone? Maybe for waterproofing (which has literally saved the lives of my neighbors recently), but for sure not for an 11 Pro whose price is prohibitive for features I don’t need (I have a Pentax SLR that will make better pictures than the best of smartphones) and no vanity to show that I can afford it (for that, my vanity goes to other more discreet objects). In the meantime, AI is becoming more and more common and our data is being plundered in turn, without the GDPR really being able to do much about it. Two good reasons to stop paying companies to steal our data, our free will and finally our soul with impunity.

Photo by Gilles Lambert on Unsplash

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