I bought a new Google Nexus S 4G for Sprint. Fantastic phone overall. Incredible graphics, you can zoom in on street view instantly, find restaurants, check email, play games that look more real than reality itself, Facebook your friends, speak into a little mic thing that does instant Google searches, and do just about anything under the sun from figuring out songs, to editing photos, to listening to live radio from around the world. The problem? It's kind of hard to do on a few hours of battery life? A huge bulky phone with only mere hours of life? I know many people across the country don't suffer from battery problems on their phones because they cars and thus drive around charge it up and go, but for those of us living in cities, it's a joke. Either you lug around spare batteries and chargers, or chunky extensions, or you're left with nothing but a tease. A device that can do anything, but has to be completed at incredible speed with constant fear of drainage, thus end of the day use.
Especially more than ever, as phones tout NetFlix, Hulu capacity, intense gaming capabilities, up-to-date CNN newsfeeds, weather, etc. battery life is the final frontier preventing these devices from truly being useful, at least to us city dwellers. I live in the East Village in New York City, so walking outside and being able to spot restaurant reviews, find a local bank, or post-office, a drug store, etc. are all invaluable features, but in the end few, if any of today's slew of phones really stack up to provide the incredible battery life one would need to truly use these devices casually as companions in that sense.
While I'm not a fan of watching people glued to their phones as a substitute for reality, I also appreciate the new place these devices have in today's world. People expect you to be on email 24/7 and won't call or text you. Advertisements assume you can take a quick photo for a video with more information with those little bar code scanny things. I suppose my core question comes down to why we have created so many features, but such little battery capacity to fully enjoy them. Maybe it is in a sense a necessary evil, preventing truly battery sensible devices could glue us to our phones even more, making us all but walking (or more dangerously driving) zombies. Diving deeper into the world of what Paris Hilton just did, and that "Hillary Duff is pregnant?!?" instead of fixing our own lives. Who needs reality if the phone can give you an escape anywhere you go? However, that kind of abuse aside, people can use anything to escape reality. Alcohol, drugs, sex, even positive things like exercise can sometimes become addictions that do more harm than good. If you're not taking some kind of steroid chances are you don't need to "max out" at the gym five days a week. Give some time for some muscle recovery you scrawny weirdo!
So going past the addictions, I ask why hasn't the technology grown more organically? Has our insatiable need for silly gadgets, games and escapes surpassed the logic of technological progress? Would we rather have just 15 minutes of escape time than days worth of actual useful portable features? I myself fall into the latter category. I could care less who's doing what on Farmville, I grow bored of gambling fake money on Zynga, and I think those Angry Birds will figure out the pig situation without me having to slingshot them around instead of improving my own life. More elaborate simulated worlds even more so remind us of our pathetic need to escape reality. I remember quitting the game, "The Sims" when I realized my character was lifting weights and reading books to gain intelligence points and strength, while I sat on the couch lazy, doing nothing. It was kind of an obvious but bold "Aha!" moment.
To me our lives exist in the real world, and the phones that we carry around can be incredible companions. But two things have to happen. The phones need to figure out this battery crisis, and people need to learn to live their lives, using the media and these devices as tools to create better lives for themselves, rather than portable escapes. Next time you burst open that smart phone don't drain your tiny little battery life making monkeys grab balls and throw them around or something stupid, check on Yelp, check your neighborhood for something interesting to do, lookup and learn about some kind of neat fact about your world instead of some neat backstory about your fake mafia mobster lifestyle on a little 3 1/2 inch screen.
With Google's recent purchase of Motorala's mobile division, and rumors of the iPhone 5 coming out very soon, the stakes couldn't be higher. So we the two questions come into play. How useful are these things really, and if they are useful will they live up their full potential?