This article is part of the On Tech newsletter. You can do this Register here Getting it on weekdays.
Allow me to ask a wild question: what if we played games, shopped, watched Netflix and read the news on our smartphone – without using the application?
Our smartphones, like our computers, will be gateways for going online mostly through web browsers.
Why change is troubling, you ask? Because the downsides of our app system – mainly Control by Apple and Google, which controls major app store owners in most parts of the world, Emphasis on our digital life – enough to reflect on another path.
There are technical hurdles in using smartphone websites for everything. We are also used to apps. But in recent months, Microsoft’s Xbox Video game console, popular games Fortnite And other Game companies have moved forward with technology that makes it possible to play video games on smartphone web browsers.
This is a big deal. Games are among the most popular smartphone apps, and they are often technologically sophisticated. If video games can do away with apps, perhaps every other industry can too.
Minor cuts in our app system also pose two big questions: Has the app underlined their usefulness? And if apps were not predominant, would we have more diversity of digital services from a wider array of companies?
The first thing to understand about apps is this: they were not inevitable. In the early smartphone era, there was a tug of war between technologies that resembled websites and the apps we know today. The apps won, mostly because they were technically superior.
But web browsers have become more efficient, and cloud computing now enables a lot of sophisticated stuff to be separated from physical phones.
I first became interested in this topic as Aram Zucker-Schraff, who helped oversee digital advertising technology at The Washington Post. tweeting For the year having an argument Apps were a mistake And his Time To move most of our smartphone activity to increasingly sophisticated mobile websites.
One of Zucker-Sharf’s points is about control. Apple and Google decide what they allow on the world’s phones. This gives good results, including those companies Weed out bad or dangerous apps And giving us a place to find them.
But it comes with unhappy side effects. Apple and Google charge one Significant fees on multiple in-app purchases, And they have forced app creators to work in odd ways. (Ever try to buy a Kindle e-book on the iPhone app? You can’t.) Growing App creators complaints Show that Drawbacks Application control benefits may begin to outweigh.
You know what’s free from the iron grip of Apple and Google? Spider web Smartphones can tilt the web instead.
It is easy to believe that fights over apps are just a set of powerful companies – Fortnite owners, Epic Games and Spotify, For example – beef up money with even more powerful companies, Apple and Google. It is more than that, though.
It’s about imagining an alternate reality, where companies don’t need to devote money to creating apps that are compatible with iPhones and Android phones, can’t work on any other device, and allow app makers to Each can be compelled to hand over the deduction of the sale.
Maybe more small digital companies thrive. Perhaps our digital services will be cheaper and better. Perhaps we will have more than two major smartphone systems. Or maybe it would be terrible. We don’t know because we mostly live with undisputed smartphone app dominance.
The app system is hard to overthrow, and it’s not worth the hassle. But I am coming around to the idea that app system flaws cannot be fixed, and it is worth exploring the options that underpin the role of apps in our digital lives.
Really, should Facebook have that much power?
Facebook is a company. It is also the world’s largest experiment in mass control. (Yes, I’m being deliberately excited. It’s not really mind control.)
Please read This article My colleagues about the software change reveal that Facebook emphasized divisive posts in its news feed and gave more prominence to information about the US election from official news sources.
Those changes prompted internal debate on Facebook about how to balance the company’s finances and the benefits of online interactions with potential kings of political rebound, Kevin Rouge, Mike Issac and Sheera Frankel.
This is a fascinating behind the scenes look at how Facebook controls an online gathering of billions. And his article suggests that Facebook is not a stable product. It develops continuously in response to company goals and external pressures.
Those who believe Facebook is losing too much control What information do people see In this news my colleagues will tell about the kind of molestation.
But let me say for the time being that what we see or do not see on Facebook is a result of deliberate choice by the company. Facebook all the time tells us what information we change and changes our conversation. And it’s always been that. Many Popular Internet Services Are similar.
Now no matter how you feel about Facebook, it’s wild that a corporation controlled primarily by one person has such an impact on the preferences and behaviors of billions of people – and inevitably is Mostly taking big decisions in their own and secret ways.
Even Facebook executives Have asked many timesShould we really leave so much power in the hands of a company?
Before we leave …
A computer can write better than me: My colleague cad metz has the best Explanation I have read about a technique known as GPT-3 that analyzes about published words to exclude computer generated language that sounds like humans. And They tried it on some Modern Love columns. (I’ll be more than Cad in Wednesday’s newspaper.)
Why your son must be battling virtual classes: Remote school has been difficult for many children and families. But The Wall Street Journal writes about some research that finds the ramifications of virtual education and the lack of motivation May cause boys to fall behind Girls in Educational Achievement.
When virtual violence escapes the real thing: Filled with death and destruction, the group mobile game player UNDogged Battleground is widely played across Afghanistan, almost as an escape from the reality of a country killed in a war, writes my colleagues Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Fatima Faizi.
See a Newborn Donkey Taking Her First Step. (This video is from 2017, but new to me!)
we want to hear from you. Tell us what you think about this newspaper and what you want us to find out. You can reach us email@example.com.
If you do not already receive this newsletter in your inbox, Please sign up here.