A throw-away culture or the bleeding edge?

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief Ω

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief

My decade-old toaster makes toast really well. It makes bread into crispy bread exactly as well as it always has.

My 2000 Chevrolet Cavalier gets me where I need to go and is pretty efficient at doing so.

My Samsung Galaxy SII, purchased in August 2011, was, until recently when I purchased a new MacBook Pro, the best and most-advanced piece of technology in my house. It has never needed work done on it, allows me to do just about anything a laptop computer can do, fits in my pocket and even allows me to place and receive phone calls — not that anyone does that much anymore.

So when I heard the news that people were again lining up well in advance of the release of the newest iPhone to be sure to get one, I again shook my head in disbelief.

What do you seriously expect that this version will do that your current model can’t?

I’ll give you two-to-one odds — with real money on the line — it’s not going to be able to do your dishes or laundry.

The camera is better? My two-plus year-old phone takes shots good enough to run full-page in this newspaper. I know because I’ve done it.

It comes in more than standard black or white? Wow.

Something about a fingerprint reader? Guess what, you’re not in the CIA or CSIS. How about you don’t leave your phone lying around (assuming it’s for security purposes).

According to a CBC report recently issued about the expectations for the new iPhone, “The most notable update seems to be a feature called Control Center, which allows a user to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to quickly access apps such as the camera and calculator or settings such as screen brightness and Airplane Mode.”

Perfect. Thankfully you’ll now be able to change the brightness of your screen with a swipe and one touch, thus removing one or two touches of the screen from the equation to accomplish such an important and regularly-needed task.

I guess maybe I’m old fashioned — or just getting old — and don’t understand why people feel the need to replace things that do exactly what they need them to do just because a shiny new one of the same product comes on the market.

Maybe my friend and colleague Sean Brady can enlighten me?


Sean Brady, Copy & Web Editor Ω

Have you seen toasters lately? We have toasters that can do anything. See-through toasters, colour-sensing toasters, portable toasters and even toasters that can print the weather forecast right onto your toast.

Sean Brady, Copy & Web Editor

Sean Brady, Copy & Web Editor

You’re probably scratching your head right now and asking yourself “Why?”

Well, that’s a good question.

Perhaps not every technological leap is one worth taking, but can we really know that without trying?

How many years did Apple falter before finally finding its feet with the iPod? Or going back even further, how many Apple computers were there before the Macintosh?

History is rife with gadgets that failed to find a market, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they were failures. While everyone is talking about Apple and Samsung, Nokia has been making some real gems (and upgrades for said gems, too).

Something we have to face is that there will never be an ultimate design when it comes to technology. Everything that gets better does so in iterations. Why does your phone have a number on the end of its model? Probably because it’s better than the last one. How much better? That’s up to you to decide, and “buyer beware” is certainly as true now as it ever was.

Maybe you don’t have to make the jump from the “one” to the “two,” but when the “four” comes out? Time to consider an upgrade.

Staying current isn’t just about new doodads and sleeker designs. Newer devices usually come paired with new software (such as operating systems) too. In turn, you’re more protected by the security fixes provided in the latest software and more compatible with everything new being developed.

Another thing to consider is that files and settings have become portable and moving your own personal set of data is always getting easier. You can easily sync your apps, settings and contacts with an Android or iOS device. When you get your new phone, all you’ve got to do is sign-in and wait for the download to finish.

Maybe your new phone can’t do your dishes or your laundry, but it might turn on your lights or change the channel on your TV.

There are more features available to current phones than we can even use. New technology is often about making those features more accessible.

On top of all of this, it might be important to remember that advances in technology sometimes aren’t easy to spot. An ad in the latest Wired magazine reads “Adding buttons isn’t innovation, removing them is.”