App Tells You How Many Times You Check Your Phone

It’s called Moment, and it’s:

an iOS app that automatically tracks how much you use your iPhone and iPad each day. If you’re using your phone too much, you can set daily limits on yourself and be notified when you go over. You can even force yourself off your device when you’re over your limit.

I’m not going that far. But it’s interesting to see how many times I check my phone. (For the record: less than the average but still a lot.)

Apparently boredom is actually good for creativity, which makes sense—I rarely come up with a novel solution to a problem while actively thinking about it. It all happens in the magic of the subconscious.

And the research backs this up:

“You come up with really great stuff when you don’t have that easy lazy junk food diet of the phone to scroll all the time,” says Sandi Mann.

Mann’s research finds that idle minds lead to reflective, often creative thoughts (we discuss her projects in depth in this week’s show). Minds need to wander to reach their full potential.

Heard about it from the New Tech City podcast, which cites the following statistics:

58% of American adults have a smartphone today. The average mobile consumer checks their device 150 times a day, and 67% of the time, that’s not because it rang or vibrated. 44% of Americans have slept with their phone next to their beds.

Listen to the episode to find out more about the research, including a really cool experiment that had its subjects read the phone book.

61% of Americans Don’t Really Need the Internet

Nice year-end summary of American life from Pew—documenting our habits and preferences from political ideology and wages, to family structures and Internet usage.

This is among the more striking findings to me:

Americans are now more attached to their cellphones and internet access than their televisions or landline telephones, marking a shift in their communications habits since 2006. Over half of internet users now say the internet would be “very hard” to give up. And among this devoted group, 61% say the internet is essential to them, either for work or other reasons. Translated to the whole population, 39% of all Americans feel they absolutely need to have internet access.

Taking the inverse there, 61% of Americans don’t feel like they absolutely need the Internet? That’s amazing. And I’m only saying that with a little bit of my tongue in my cheek.

Ask a Robot to Tell You What to Cook

Watson—the supercomputer and Jeopardy star can now help you figure out what to make based on the ingredients you have on hand.

Well it can’t help you you, at least not yet. But the demo is pretty impressive:

If you give Watson a few ingredients and cuisine specifications, it can help you with recipe ideas. I had a few things in the kitchen, but I didn’t know what to make with them — ground turkey, frozen peas, dried mushrooms, canned tomatoes. I live in San Francisco, so it’s easy to get Asian and Mexican spices. […]

“If you can understand what’s in an actual ingredient,” [IBM engineer Steven] Abrams says, “so what is in butter, what’s in strawberries, what’s in chocolate. What are the key flavor compounds that give them those pleasant sensations? Then, you can make predictions about what’s going to be pleasant, what’s going to be sweet and spicy and salty and savory.”

Read/listen to I’ve Got The Ingredients. What Should I Cook? Ask IBM’s Watson {npr}.

The End of an iEra

Love this piece by Mat Honan:

In all likelihood we’re not just seeing the death of the iPod Classic, but the death of the dedicated portable music player. Now it’s all phones and apps. Everything is a camera. The single-use device is gone—and with it, the very notion of cool that it once carried. The iPhone is about as subversive as a bag of potato chips, and music doesn’t define anyone anymore. Soon there will be no such thing as your music library. There will be no such thing as your music. We had it all wrong! Information doesn’t want to be free, it wants to be a commodity. It wants to be packaged into apps that differ only in terms of interface and pricing models. It wants to be rented. It wants to reveal nothing too personal, because we broadcast it to Facebook[…]

On Death and iPods {wired}

Friday Link List

1. Now That’s Not Playing Very Nice, Uber {The Verge}

This is such a good illustration of the disconnect between the “we’re changing the world through algorithms and better business models” rhetoric of Silicon Valley and the reality.

Lofty means-nothing stuff like this:
Uber Screenshot

Most of these companies are run by people who think no one will notice the contradiction. And that it’s OK to play a little dirty to get more market share.

Uber is arming teams of independent contractors with burner phones and credit cards as part of its sophisticated effort to undermine Lyft and other competitors. Interviews with current and former contractors, along with internal documents obtained by The Verge, outline the company’s evolving methods. Using contractors it calls “brand ambassadors,” Uber requests rides from Lyft and other competitors, recruits their drivers, and takes multiple precautions to avoid detection. The effort, which Uber appears to be rolling out nationally, has already resulted in thousands of canceled Lyft rides and made it more difficult for its rival to gain a foothold in new markets. Uber calls the program “SLOG,” and it’s a previously unreported aspect of the company’s ruthless efforts to undermine its competitors.

 2. Mining Your Voice for Hidden Feelings & Company Products {new tech city/wnyc}

…Emodi’s company, called Beyond Verbal, is applying 20 years of “emotion analytics” to help us understand ourselves better. These products claim to be able to determine true emotions just from listening to you speak for 20 seconds. It could also determine if a salesperson is using the “perfect sales intonation” or if a given customer calling up is ‘exasperated and furious’ or ‘exasperated and ready to listen’.

[photo credit: uber homepage on 8.28. used without permission. if that’s not OK sorry let me know.]