This was the first thought running through my mind as I sipped my first coffee of 2020: Our mobiles and us are in a deeply personal relationship, so then how can we make that less of a transaction and more of a medium to evoke feelings?
While we started 2020 looking forward to new smartphone technology, we’re living in a different world now. We’re still excited for foldable phones and all the cool things coming down the line but given how much the outbreak has changed our lives, we should realize and reflect on how we’ve started using our phones differently.
The living room commute:
As I currently don’t have to make my lengthy commute to and from the office, the amount of time I spend listening to podcasts, music and streaming videos on my smartphone has dropped to pretty much zero. Having said that, let me dive into a bit of business - Spotify for example, signed a deal with Shemaroo Entertainment in March, 2020 pre-lockdown time to offer its subscribers access to over 25,000 Indian songs across multiple genres and languages. Despite its best efforts, the company is witnessing a steady decline in usage in wearables and web platforms with a double-digit dip in some cases as testified by Spotify chief executive Daniel Ek on ET Times, April 30th, 2020. While he’s expressing his concerns, let’s not forget that the usual morning routines of music streaming is replaced by television and gaming consoles that have seen almost 50% hike over the same time period, globally.
Does all this data and business analysis mean that our interaction with our phones is up but the duration is down? Only time will tell since the human brain is simply reacting to a closed situation temporarily.
Touch and go:
Our present circumstances have revealed an even better unsung hero: fingerprint scanners. While staring at a phone until facial recognition kicks in has never been of particular pleasure to me, it’s much harder to use now that we’re all wearing masks outside – or, in the iPhone’s case, impossible to use since FaceID won’t register faces that are partially blocked. Now, who would have thought of that earlier?
And like most of you, I’ve been video chatting quite a bit more. While I’ve put a lot more mileage on my webcam, I’ve also done my fair share of FaceTime and Google Hangouts, which is where my wireless headphones have come in handy to keep the conversation going while I’m cooking or doing the dishes. I’ve come to value accessories like wireless charging stands to keep my phone propped up while I’m talking. I don’t exactly need a high-quality display to see my friends and family, I’d rather have more dependable Bluetooth connections to my headphones. All this means, when it comes to using my handset, the extended periods of time again are vastly reduced!
A game in there!
There is no gamer in me so I had to ask a few gamified friends for their take on this topic. Interestingly, their home screen order has changed, something of a sacred value to all smartphone and gaming lovers. They are playing more on the desktop than the mobile and are using Bluetooth enabled devices rather than being stuck with the cord. This is also acting like a placebo, giving a false sense of mobility that the blue icon stands for considering we’re tamed at home now. With the large TV screen a few metres away, it is obvious that gaming lovers will pick up their remotes rather than the touch screen this lockdown. To stave off boredom, preloaded games are of great help with fluctuating Wi-Fi signals while zoom party gamers are giving gaming nights a steady go, every weekend.
So you see, no matter how unconscious it is, no matter how auto-pilot your state of mind is now - we are all changing the way we behave and react to everything that was earlier normal around us. The real question that will lead to a great human and media discovery is – will this remain beyond the lockdown or will the removal of the lockdown put us back to where we were? Again, time will tell and we will do our jobs to analyse and work on it well.