There was a time, back when I only had an iPod touch and this whole “smartphone” concept was the newest, coolest thing, when I really enjoyed finding new apps for my iPod. Now people can set up e-commerce sites to sell their products online with mobile apps, and the mobile eCommerce statistics are eye-opening.
An app that converts inches into 10 other kinds of measurements was perfect for, well, any of the metric needs I may encounter. An offline Japanese dictionary was going to be great for when I had to look up obscure words when out in public. A tangram game might be nice for when I had to kill five minutes and wasn’t really feeling like Tetris or Bejeweled.
All apps, truly, are incredibly useful, if only in very specific contexts.
This is why it was kind of bizarre that once I got an actual smartphone – a Samsung Galaxy S III – I had absolutely no desire whatsoever to find any apps.
I don’t mean to say I never downloaded anything. I had the usual gamut of social media, my bank’s app, a checklist – those kinds of things. But no more did I feel compelled to prepare for every little mini-emergency that might arise. I didn’t even enjoy just thumbing through the list of new or popular apps anymore.
My new apathy spread through all my devices. When I had to wipe my iPod because of a glitch, I never bothered to reinstall any apps (besides Bejeweled, because the Butterflies mode really changes your life, man). I deleted almost everything besides a few games and streaming apps off my tablet.
If you took a look at my current phone (a Sony Xperia Z3, pictured), I keep my most-used apps on the home screen, and there’s a small folder at the bottom for Google Maps, Kindle, Yelp, a calculator – the things I do need sometimes but not every day. And that’s all. No more, no less.
Look at it like this: In my ordinary life, I may find I occasionally have need for a fruit zester. It’s such a pain to have to carefully slice off the lemon or orange peels otherwise. But would I go out and buy a dedicated fruit-zesting tool just to satisfy that infrequent need? No, probably not.
I guess I figured one day that a smart device was supposed to be, well, smart. And how was it smart to have four pages and countless folders of all these little tools that obstinately were meant to make my life easier? Was it really easier, or was all that convenience just becoming … inconvenient?
I have a smartphone with which I do the barest minimum that it is capable of, and that suits me just fine.
Editor’s Note: Staff writer Paige Takeya is temporarily filling in for Christa Wittmier. Follow Paige on Twitter at @lordmayocloud. Christa’s SuperTech column will return shortly.