Saturday, October 29, 2016

Popular Smartphone Apps: Positives & Negatives

The World of Apps

The greatest influence of the smartphone has, without a doubt, been the creation of applications, ubiquitously known as "apps." On a larger scale, apps "say something about the nature of consumer culture, particularly in the digital age."¹ But individually, apps have come to define us. Every app is uniquely developed and has its own identity amid the thousands of other apps. From the dumbest to the most ingenious, apps offer the largest wealth of knowledge and entertainment humankind has ever known. 

As much as apps have helped us by making our lives easier, it is important to realize they have negative implications as well, both on the personal and societal level. 

Here are three examples of popular smartphone apps, each with their own positives and negatives.

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Positives: What if you are in the mood to watch a really good movie, but not in the mood to wait for the TV to turn on or for your laptop to boot up? With popular apps like Netflix, smartphone owners now have the luxury of watching their favorite movies and TV shows on-the-go, with minimal hassle. A 2010 study by Forrester Research found that 37 percent of 18- to 30-year-old Americans access the Internet with their mobile phones, and 15 percent use their phones to watch videos, movies, and TV.² More and more people are ditching their TVs and computers for these sleek devices because for consumers, it's all about convenience. It also helps that smartphones have impressive screen resolution.

Negatives: Nobody is saying the movie or TV industry is going to disappear; those aren't going anywhere. Rather, what is changing is the platform through which consumers are choosing to view it. In today's fast-pace world, the smartphone platform for viewing just works better and fits better into our lives because the screen comes to us - we don't have to go to screen.³ Cable companies are already beginning to loose customers like Wayne Fortin, who "prefers his smartphone's simpler applications to browsing the Web."⁴  With the advancement of movie/TV-watching apps, expect to see a future decline in cable services. 

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Pandora Radio

Positives: Like many apps that originate from popular websites, the Pandora app is fully integrated with a user's Web account, meaning any stations you create, any songs you rate, or any artists you bookmark appear on your phone as they do on the Web.⁵ This means people can listen to their favorite music whenever and wherever, without constantly updating their playlists. The Pandora app has also become available through entertainment systems in various car models, such as BMW, Buick, Ford, and GMC - so you can listen on the road too!⁶

Negatives: The smartphone craze is now dictating what features cars will have. Because car companies have realized many people use their smartphones while they are driving (because they rely on them so much), they have opted to create hands-free entertainment systems as a safer alternative. Ford created "App Link," a voice-control system that links apps, like Pandora, from the user's smartphone to the car.⁷ But is this truly safer? There is no research indicating car companies are making things safer by going hands-free.⁷ Many experts agree that more options in these new car systems are just creating more opportunities for drivers to get distracted.⁷ Integrating smartphone-app technology into the physical aspects of our lives, especially driving, may not be the right solution. In the end, we might actually be putting ourselves in greater danger. 

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The New York Times

Positives: Why waste money buying an entire paper and killing trees (did you know it takes about 75,000 trees to print a Sunday Edition of The New York Times!⁸), when you can get the headlines directly on your smartphone? News and smartphones have practically become synonymous in today's world. The ability to catch up on the latest stories without being strapped down by a desk computer or costly newspaper has revolutionized the way readers consume the media. The goal of news apps, such as the app, is to "bring news, games, and features to you in an environment specifically designed for your mobile device."⁹ Reading text on a tiny screen is also easier than most people thought, especially when presented in a narrow, neat column - the newspaper format people have been using for hundreds of years.   

: Where is the newspaper industry headed? Unfortunately, the rise of the Internet has led to the demise of many local newspaper publications; and since smartphones provide only another platform through which people can access the Internet, it seems as though newspapers are gradually on the decline. The truth is, the paper industry cannot keep up with all the media capabilities the Web has to offer. Now, not only are people preferring to view news in an online format, but with smartphones, they are also reading it while they are on the move. 


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