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Planned Obsolescence – How Products are Designed to Fail

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in our world where our technology never failed? A world where our smartphone batteries didn’t eventually give up the ghost? A world where our laptops didn’t get temperamental after their 5th birthday? A world where the technology we depend on – and pay good money for – was built to last?

Unfortunately, this marvellous imagined world full of dependable technology with true longevity is not likely to become a reality any time soon. That’s because much of  technology we use today, including our smartphones, has been designed with a limited shelf-life, all thanks to a concept known as “planned obsolescence” (and more than a small dose of corporate greed).

What is planned obsolescence?

Also known as in-built obsolescence or programmed obsolescence, planned obsolescence refers to the practice of designing and manufacturing products with a limited useful life. In come cases this means products are deliberately designed to fall out of fashion after a certain period, more commonly it means that products (particularly tech products) are designed to break, slow down and become difficult to use after a set point.

The purpose of planned obsolescence is simple – to force consumers to buy replacement products as frequently as possible without becoming disenfranchised by the brand responsible for the initial product. In corporate circles, this process is known as “shortening the replacement cycle”. In short, companies build obsolescence into their products in order to sell more products and make more money.

Does planned obsolescence affect my smartphone?

It’s almost guaranteed that planned obsolescence is at play within your smartphone right now. For example, it’s not possible for many smartphone users to simply take off the back of their phone to replace their batteries anymore, which naturally become weaker over time. This means that they will usually buy a fresh phone in order to enjoy restored battery life once their current battery starts to have less longevity.

In other cases, brands like Android stop making software upgrades for specific handsets after a certain period. This means users must buy a new handset in order to access the fresh upgrade for their smartphone.

There are also other, subtler ways in which planned obsolescence speeds up the “replacement cycle”, which depend on omission rather than deliberate sabotage.

The fact that a spilt cup of coffee or an unfortunate case of butterfingers can consign our phones to telephone heaven seems remarkable given the types of technology and materials now available on the market. Waterproofing and reinforcing smartphones would be inexpensive and straightforward, but it doesn’t really make sense for technology businesses. After all, the more we break, the more we buy.

The environmental cost

Of course this is very bad news for consumer pockets, especially since all major tech companies are at it. If one quality alternative which offered longevity came to market, the jig would be up for other manufacturers, but today planned obsolescence is a crucial part of business models.

But it’s also very bad news for our planet. In a recent post we explored some the problems we face as a result of electronic waste (also known as e-waste). From the 65.4 million tonnes of e-waste likely to be tossed away in 2017, to the human cost of exporting e-waste illegally and irresponsibly mining for manufacturing materials in countries with few workers’ rights, the accepted strategy of planned obsolescence doesn’t just cost us money, it costs human lives and the future of our planet.


Do you think your smartphone features planned obsolescence? How long was your last phone’s lifespan? Share your thoughts below and escape the cycle by
getting your phone fixed by the iMonkey’s specialists.

6 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With Your iPhone

6 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOUR IPHONE COULD DO

6. Use Camera Flash as Flashlight

We are sure a lot of people are aware of this feature, but at the same time, there are plenty of people who are not, which is why we decided to include this on the list. You can do this by opening up the iPhone control center, and then tapping the button on the bottom left side of your screen to turn the camera flash on. You can now use it as a flashlight and change back to the default settings when you are done.

5. Make TouchID Work Faster

There have been some complaints about the TouchID on the phone not responding fast enough, and we have a solution to the problem. The best way to speed up TouchID on your iPhone is by saving the print of the finger that you use the most to access the phone multiple times. By saving it as a different print, you reduce the time it takes TouchID to process your fingerprint when you want to access your phone.

This feature works better when you can see what you are doing, which means that you will have a tough time if you try to do it with an iPhone that has a cracked screen.

4. Take Pictures with Your Headphones

This is a pretty neat feature because it allows you to take pictures by simply using the volume buttons on your headset when you are in camera mode.

3. Make Your Camera Blink When You Have New Messages

This is a very useful feature which allows your phone to notify you of a message with the blink of your camera flashlight. You can turn this feature on by going to your general settings, going to accessibility, and then scrolling down to LED Flash for Alerts, and turning it on. Just make sure you turn it back off when you’re in a movie theater or trying to sleep.

2. Easy Access to the Top of the Display Screen

When you try to access the top of the screen on your iPhone, you usually need one hand to hold the phone, and another to scroll down on the screen. There is an easier way to do that, all you have to do is double touch the home button twice, and the screen will briefly shift downward, allowing you to access the top of the screen pretty easily.

1. Charge Your Phone Faster

Okay, this is technically not a feature, but it is still very useful information. It is no secret that the battery life of the iPhone isn’t very long, and using the charger that comes with the phone takes some time. Instead of using the adapter, switch to an iPad charger, because they charge the iPhone faster, so you don’t have to wait too long before it’s fully charged.

Force Touch: What it is and Why it Matters to iPhone Users

WHAT IS FORCE TOUCH?

Apple developed Force Touch as a way to sense the difference between a tap and a harder press on the phone. Force Touch can then relay that information to the phone and correspond specific actions to the type of force you put on the phone. You can see Force Touch in action right now on three different devices: the Apple Watch, the 2015 MacBook and the 2015 MacBook Pro. Force Touch on the Apple Watch allows the user to press down on the screen to change the watch face, or press a little harder to bring up a secondary menu. It’s necessary for this small smart device since there is very little screen space, but it seems as though Apple has realized the potential for including this technology in all of its devices.

WHAT WILL FORCE TOUCH BRING TO THE IPHONE 6S?

There are a few ways we envision Force Touch being a super useful addition to the iPhone 6s. The first being navigation — by allowing a second dimension to the way users can touch and interact with the phone, the developers can build in so many extra navigational options and menus. Maybe a light touch will pause a video, while a heavier touch will rewind or fast-forward it. Perhaps a light touch will open a basic menu, while a heavier touch will open a detailed menu. The opportunities are endless!

Another interesting application for Force Touch is gaming. By adding this additional haptic element, game and app developers can build in so many more functionalities within their apps. While there are no real reports of developers planning ahead for this feature, we have a feeling that it will be a huge change for the app and game developers out there.

7 Things to Try Immediately With Apple Music

The much-anticipated Apple Music has finally been unveiled! Users concerned with pricing don’t have to worry as it offers a free three-month trial period, so you can decide whether it’s the right streaming music service for you. The service is available for iPads/iPhones running on the latest version of iOS and Macs/PCs that have the most recent version of iTunes. Here are some great features of Apple music you ought to try out.

APPLE MUSIC FEATURES TO TRY TODAY

1. CHOOSE YOUR FAVORITE GENRES AND ARTISTS.

Head over to the accounts section and choose ‘Artists for you’ in the top left corner. You will be greeted with bubbles with the names of the different artists. To choose your artist, tap on the bubble or double-tap your favorite artists. For genres that you don’t like, press and hold to get rid of them.

2. CHECK OUT APPLE MUSIC’S RECOMMENDATIONS.

This feature is listed under ‘For you’ and is based on your selected genre and artists. Apple Music understands that you may not always remember all your favorite songs, and this list is a good way to keep your playlist fresh. You may find a few forgotten treasures in here.

3. CONNECT WITH YOUR FAVORITE ARTISTS.

Get to know what your favorite artists are up to by following them. You automatically follow the artists that you selected before but Apple Music gives you the chance to connect with more. This will give you an updated view of the artist’s feeds, videos and photos.

4. LISTEN TO THE SONGS IN YOUR LIBRARY.

It’s not all about streaming with Apple Music; the service also lets you access songs in your library by tapping on the ‘My music’ icon. Here, you can access all the songs you have in your playlists and any new song that you may have downloaded.

5. SAVE SOME TRACKS FOR LATER.

This is one feature you will appreciate when you cannot access internet and stream. Save your favorite songs for later by choosing to make them available offline.

6. CREATE A RADIO STATION.

Proving just how cool Apple Music is, it lets you create your very own radio station. If you are listening to a track and you want something similar, just click on the ellipses in the bottom right corner and choose ‘Start Radio’. Apple music will queue up similar songs that you may like. This is a great way to explore more music and find new favorites.

7. ADD CURATED PLAYLISTS TO YOUR MUSIC

Apple Music ensures its users are always taken care of by providing a wide variety of playlists. Click on the ‘plus’ icon to add the playlist to your music library.

Don’t Let Snapchat Drain Your Data: Use These Tips

Snapchat is one of the most popular apps on the market today. There’s something so magical about sending your friends and family pictures that only exist for up to 10 seconds at a time. As the app has evolved, there is a fun social component to the app in the form of Stories, so you can now follow all of your friends and favorite celebrities as they upload snippets of their day straight to Snapchat.

SAVE YOUR DATA WITH THIS SNAPCHAT TIP

If you use Snapchat often, you may have noticed that it’s started draining your data pretty badly. Have no fear, though, because the Snapchat developers heard our cries and released an update that helps solve this data issue.

Earlier this month, Snapchat updated the app and added new features. One of the best new features is something called Travel Mode. When you enable Travel Mode on the app, it will prevent the app from automatically loading things like the popular Stories when you are using a cellular connection instead of WiFi. You can still view your Stories while using your data, but the app won’t just automatically load them in the background.

The only problem with this upgrade is that the setting is kind of hidden in the settings screen of the app. To find it, click the settings wheel at the top of your Snapchat screen. Then click on ‘Manage’ under ‘Additional Services’. On this page you will find ‘Travel Mode; and you can activate it by clicking the box next to it. You know it is activated when the box is filled in and has a small check mark in it.

This allows you to be more conservative when you are using the app while not connected to WiFi. This will also help with battery conservation because if you use the app a lot, you will notice that it can quickly eat up your battery. This is the safer way to use the app while traveling, the reason why the developers have called it Travel Mode.

13 iPhone and iPad Tricks That Will Blow Your Mind

APPLE HACKS FOR IPHONES AND IPADS

  1. When typing on your iPad — There’s no reason to use a traditional keyboard when you are typing on your iPad. You can easily change your keyboard to one where you can type using just your thumbs like on your iPhone. Just swipe your fingers across the keyboard in opposite directions, and the new keyboard will pop up.
  2. Charge faster — If you need to juice up your battery in a hurry, put your phone or iPad in airplane mode and the battery will charge faster.
  3. Use child safety controls — Have you tried letting your kid use the iPad, only to continually have to navigate them back to the app they were using? When you turn on the Guided Access feature in the general accessibility settings, the iPad will stay in the app being used so you don’t have to worry about them accessing apps or making unauthorized purchases.
  4. Calculator hacks — If you are using the calculator and you add too many zeros, a swipe of the finger from left to right will remove one of the zeros.
  5. Selfies without a selfie stick — You can take selfies on your iPhone by using your earbuds. All you have to do is put your iPhone on camera mode and hit the volume + button on your earbuds. An instant selfie without having to have that weird, outstretched arm look.
  6. Turn your iPad or iPhone into a computer — All blue tooth keyboards will work with your iPhone or iPad, turning both into a computer on the go.
  7. Use the compass app to hang pictures — When you have trouble making sure something is level, open up the compass app on your iPhone or iPad. The app comes with an automatic leveler that can be used as a level in a pinch.
  8. Navigate your app quickly — It’s possible to return to the top of any app that you are using, simply by tapping the top bar. No more scrolling through with your thumb.
  9. Forget the period — When you are typing on the iPad or iPhone, you can skip typing a period and then the space bar after every sentence. Instead, simply hit the space bar twice and the period will be added in automatically.
  10. Get rid of banner notifications — To get rid of banner notifications, simply swipe right to left on your keyboard and it will disappear.
  11. Siri can be your best friend — Instead of setting an alarm manually, simply press down on the home button to access Siri and say, “Wake me up in two hours”. An alarm will automatically be set to go off after the two hours is up.
  12. Get your contractions right — When autocorrect is driving you crazy while trying to write a contraction, just add an extra letter to the end of the word and your contraction will come out perfectly.
  13. Skip songs with your earbuds — When playing music, press the play button twice to go to the next song.

8 iPhone 6s Tricks You Need in Your Life

Apple has once again sent consumers scurrying to their online store and waiting in line in front of the retail stores in order to snag the highly coveted iPhone 6S. As is the case when any new Apple device is released, there are myriad new functions and capabilities that Apple fanatics are eager to get their hands on. Here are a few of the coolest features that you can access right now with the iPhone 6S.

IPHONE 6S TIPS TO TRY TODAY

  1. Make the most of 3D Touch — The new 3D Touch feature incorporates several different techniques that are sure to enhance the iOS experience for any user. It’s easy to quickly ‘peek’ into a web link, access the multitasking menu, or adjust the 3D touch sensitivity so you don’t have to press as hard.
  2. Jump to app actions — 3D Touch also allows to bypass a step by taking you directly to an action within an app. Right now, this mostly works on Apple’s native apps, but developers will likely be expanding the feature in the coming months.
  3. Live Photos — Live photos are one of the most buzzed about new tricks the iPhone 6S can pull off. The setting is turned on by default, meaning that your camera will automatically capture a few seconds of video on both sides of the shot. Just watch out for your storage as live photos take up a bit more space than normal ones.
  4. DIY motion wallpapers — Live photos can also be used to create your own dynamic wallpapers.
  5. Enhanced contact info — Now, anytime you’re in a native Apple app (such as Messages, Phone, or Contacts), you can access a menu that will allow you to initiate a quick communication with a contact via any available method.
  6. More responsive Siri — iOS 9 has incorporated several new enhancements for Siri, including more proactive advice, integration into reminders, and increased search capabilities. With the iPhone 6S, you can also use the ‘Hey Siri’ function anytime by enabling it in settings. Siri can also be setup to recognize only your voice.
  7. Truer multi-tasking — 3D Touch offers more responsive multi-tasking by allowing you to quickly access your last app with a light touch, or bringing up a full list of open apps with more force.
  8. Trackpad — Selecting a particular bit of text has always been a pain on the iPhone, but with the hidden trackpad on the iPhone 6S you’ll be able to turn Apple’s default keyboard into a trackpad and cursor you can use to easily highlight.

5 Apps That Will Simplify Your Holiday Travel

It’s wonderful to spend time during the holiday season with friends and family, but if you have to travel to get there, it can be a really stressful time. Instead of dealing with traffic, parking delays and other travel-related headaches, check out some of our favorite apps that make traveling easier and the holiday time a lot less stressful.

5 OF THE BEST TRAVEL APPS

GATEGURU

If you’ve ever traveled during the November and December months, you know how busy airports can be under normal situations. Add a holiday and the airports turn into madhouses. Instead of getting lost in a sea of people, check out GateGuru. GateGuru is an app that shows you all of the available amenities at the airport you’re traveling to/from. It also shows you where the restaurant or shop is located so you’ll know if you can make it there and back to your gate in time. Get it on the Play Store, the App Store, or the Windows Store.

HOTEL TONIGHT

What do you do when you get to your grandparent’s house for Thanksgiving, only to discover that your cousin has decided to make a last minute visit and take up the last bedroom? Grab your phone and browse Hotel Tonight, where you’ll find a list of all hotels in the area with immediate availability. Get the app for your Android, iPhone or Windows phone.

UBER

Trying to navigate around an unfamiliar city is a daunting task, especially when the roadways are filled with holiday traffic. Instead, allow Uber’s simple location-based service to find a nearby driver for you. If you’re new to the service, it’s easy to find free ride promotions online. Also, if you’re traveling abroad, you never have to worry about having enough foreign currency to pay for your ride since the app is always linked to your credit card. Uber works across all platforms and you can even get free rides by recommending it to your friends and family!

EVERNOTE

Evernote is an extremely user-friendly note taking app that is perfect for jotting down any important info you’ll need during your travels. It can hold offline copies of emails and other important documents, and you can sync your notes across various devices. Don’t write your travel information on a piece of paper that you’ll probably lose — instead, keep it in a safe place with Evernote, available for Android and iPhones.

KAYAK

Despite the fact that all-in-one travel search sites have exploded in recent years, Kayak is still one of the best options when you need to search for a flight, hotel, or rental car across a variety of companies. Search results are displayed quickly and in an easy-to-read manner, and you can customize your results with dozens of different configurations using the filters. Search on Kayak from your Android, Apple device, Windows phone or Kindle device.

A Guide to YouTube Red

If you’re an avid YouTube viewer, you’ve probably heard that the company released its new paid service: YouTube Red. YouTube Red is a paid subscription service that runs completely ad-free. Read on to learn more.

YOUTUBE RED FACTS AND FEATURES

In exchange for a monthly fee of $9.99, users are guaranteed no pop-ups, opening ads, or interruptions during their videos. This allows YouTube to pay its video producers and make a profit without forcing everyone to watch ads. Users who prefer not to pay for YouTube Red still have the option of viewing ads, but may miss out on premium content offered only to the paid service.

In addition to an ad-free experience, YouTube Red subscribers will receive the following benefits:

  • Offline Options– Red users can download YouTube files for free. The videos will remain on their devices for up to a month, allowing them to watch YouTube videos even when they don’t have internet access.
  • Sound Service– Users who want to listen to discussions, music videos, or other videos where the audio is more important than the visual can turn the screen off or pull up another screen without pausing the audio.
  • Extra Entertainment– YouTube plans to begin uploading original movies and shows sometime next year. Red subscribers will have VIP access to this content once it becomes available.

YouTube Red currently offers a free trial for one month. It also provides samples of its upcoming shows and movies to let you know what you can expect as a Red member.

PARTNERING WITH GOOGLE PLAY

In order to increase consumer interest in both services, Google Play Music has decided to promote YouTube Red to its new subscribers. Anyone who signs up for Google Play will receive a free subscription to Red. Likewise, if you sign up for Red, you will receive free access to Google Play Music for one month, a $9.99 value.

COMPATIBLE DEVICES

YouTube currently offers Red access from the following sources:

  • Android TV
  • XBox One and 360 consoles
  • Chromecast
  • Playstation 3 and 4
  • Roku
  • Apple TV
  • Wii U
  • YouTube
  • All YouTube Gaming applications that are available on iOS or Android devices
  • Any Smart TVs that support YouTube

At present, you cannot use YouTube Red on an Amazon Fire TV, regardless of whether you download the TV’s YouTube app. YouTube plans to expand access to new devices, however, and will likely make Red available on Amazon Fire TV in the near future.

5 of the Best Photo Editing Apps

The abundance of modern photo editing programs is both a blessing and a curse. Photographers have a wide range of inexpensive options to touch up their photos, but choosing among those options is getting increasingly difficult. Instead of wading through all of the hundreds of photo apps available to you, check out some of our favorites:

5 POPULAR PHOTO EDITING APPS

PICSART PHOTO STUDIO

Available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone devices, PicsArt offers 93 filters and countless other options to embellish your photos. It can download pictures from Flickr, Google, Instagram, Facebook, and other photo sharing sites as well as from your camera roll. Above all, this app has one of the most intuitive interfaces in the industry, making it easy to use without instruction.

INSTAGRAM

As a dual social media and photo editing app, Instagram lets you put your best face forward for your friends. It lets you edit photos before uploading them, and once they are up, you can make further edits in response to comments and views. Instagram is available on all iOS, Windows Phone, and Android devices, and can share photos with Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Flickr, and Foursquare.

FACETUNE

Designed specifically to edit selfies, this program provides 30 filters and 14 textures. FaceTune is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. It can be integrated with email accounts, Instagram, and Facebook on both devices, and with iOS devices, it also integrates with Flickr, Twitter, and Tumblr. This software is great for removing wrinkles and red eye, whitening teeth, and changing face shapes and makeup.

VSCO CAM

VSCO does not offer as broad of a range of filters as other editing programs do, but the features it does have are highly-precise. The program is compatible with a particularly wide range of social media sites, including popular ones like Facebook and Twitter as well as WeChat, Weibo and Google+. The only major disadvantage of this software is that it won’t work with as many devices, as it is only available for iPads, iPhones, and Android phones and tablets.

AUTODESK

This app provides 93 different filters as well as a range of borders, stickers, and other features to embellish photos of any size or subject. It also provides a quick transition from photo editing to social media sharing. The only major disadvantage is its interface, which is complex and takes time to understand. This app works with iOS and Android devices, and can upload to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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