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Are tech giants swapping convenience for the ostentatious?

Essential features in devices, that make life convenient for us, are vanishing fast

brunch Updated: Oct 23, 2017 12:50 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
Critical technology,Apple,Samsung
Most phones now are without the ‘home button’. An essential feature that is disappearing fast

No, not tech that can make you invisible or make others disappear – I’m referring to technology that is disappearing off devices. Critical features that are being taken off in the name of progress that is crippling usage and utility for us all. We, the consumers aren’t asking for these to be taken off, it’s the companies, their R&D engineers and their marketing gurus taking these decisions based on obviously flawed research. Here are some of the true losses that the world of tech has gone through in the last few months.

Fingerprint scanner

The fingerprint scanner is fast being replaced by facial recognition which may not be that secure

The days of a fingerprint scanner (FPS) are numbered. Mark my words as this is going to happen. With the home button gone, the logical placement for the scanner is now at the back of a phone. Not as convenient, but it got the job done. Unfortunately most companies seem to be fascinated by facial recognition as the new holy grail. Apple, Samsung, Facebook and a dozen others are working on next-gen levels of innovation in this field. It’s a serious case of barking up the wrong security tree. It’s not going to be secure, its not that convenient too. Making a digital payment, unlocking your phone without looking at it – are all much easier with a fingerprint scanner than your ‘mug’. Unfortunately the better technology of a FPS will soon be RIP.

The home button

The home button is now being made redundant at a ferocious pace

Phones will have no home buttons. It’s now being made redundant at a ferocious pace. Look at what all we could do with a home button. It brought us back to the safety of the home screen, double press could achieve different things, long press could be used to navigate or execute tasks faster, the fingerprint scanner lived right beneath. All gone. Relegated to the dustbin. It didn’t start with the iPhone X as many companies had already killed off the home button before. But now with Apple making this the design of the future, it’s going to become the defacto standard. The quest for more screen space in front has led to the death of the most essential part of a phone.

MicroSD slot

The MicroSD card is also going soon

Other than greed, nothing else is leading to the disappearance of this from our phones. Every single day we use more and more storage on our phones. The videos are bigger, the pictures have added more resolutions, we are taking more and more terrible selfies, people send more WhatsApp multimedia files than ever before, everyone has the biggest music collection known to mankind. And yet the control over what level of storage we can have on our phones has been taken away and dictated by the brands. There is absolutely no logic for this. It’s not about making a phone thinner or any of the other flimsy excuses used by manufacturers. It’s greed and it’s not a good sign!

3.5mm jack

The 3.5mm jack is old but good technology

Yes, the 3.55 headphone jack is really old school and yes it has it’s own problems and weaknesses. Still it’s really good technology that still delivers. These excuses given by brands that we have to kill it off for future higher standards is well, hogwash. The future is supposed to be wireless, and frankly, wireless and bluetooth audio isn’t a patch on the 3.5mm standard. Could we the money paying consumer not be made a scapegoat? Put that damn 3.55mm headphone jack back, get your act together and then come back with tech that actually is better.

There’s a lot more that is going away that shouldn’t. Hybrid Dual slim slots are like a con man trick that is killing off real dual SIM slots, the screen bezel is being carved away making phones more delicate and prone to even more damage, proper buttons are getting replaced by sensors and squeeze technology that just doesn’t work as well as it should. It’s time to stop this disappearing tech madness. You are the consumer. You pay the money. Boycott the brands that are making essential tech disappear and reward the ones that give you what you need.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, October 22, 2017

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