Over the past few years in various conversations, Stacey has told me she doesn’t carry her phone around at home. Ludicrous, I say! At least that’s what I used to say. It turns out that the smart home and IoT now has me doing the same thing: As I add more smart things to my home and digital assistants have moved beyond phones, I’ve been slowly shifting activities away from my phone.
What got me thinking about this was a Twitter question I received earlier this week. I had mentioned my new “hearable”, the Nuheara IQBuds, and someone asked if I’d consider getting a similar product with a built in assistant. I probably would, provided I had a choice of assistants.
In fact, the IQBuds do work with Siri today. One tap on the capacitive earbuds brings Siri into my ears as long as my Bluetooth-connected iPhone is within range. And my Apple Watch 3 with LTE provides Siri pretty much from anywhere as long as my iPhone is powered on at home.
This isn’t to suggest that every activity on a smartphone is suited for use on an alternative device or through a smart speaker. Obviously, I’m not browsing the web on my non-phone devices, nor am I playing games, nor am I doing a cell phone number lookup on my fridge, using highly engaging apps or creating content such as this post.
But think about what we can now do on a non-phone device through smart speakers, digital assistants and the like.
You don’t always need a phone to place a call or send a text, for example. These functions are migrating to Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers; the latter having just gained text messaging if you have an Android phone.
Turning on lights, playing music on a Sonos or closing the garage door? We’ve gone from dedicated on-device buttons to smart home apps on the phone and then extended those functions to voice controls and watches.
Checking weather, querying the web for specific information, looking for upcoming calendar appointments or stock prices are other examples. You don’t need to unlock a phone, find and tap on the right app to get this information. You just ask your digital assistant. Heck, I can get basic crypto coin data from the colored light bulb in my office at a glance now; no phone or mobile app is needed.
The point is this: As our non-phone devices get smarter, there are specific times and places that it simply makes more sense (or is quicker) to use them in place of the phone. And as IoT continues to evolves, we might find the phone won’t be the most used smart device.
Indeed, I find it completely liberating to leave my phone at home for hours at a time and simply wear my LTE-connected smartwatch. I can take or place calls / messages, chat, get turn-by-turn directions, check weather or traffic, control my home devices, and more without worrying about dropping my phone while I’m out and about.
It took me a while to catch up to Stacey on this one, but I’m finally seeing the freedom of not having a phone with me all the time. That’s because, as time goes on, more and more functionality is being pushed away from the handset. And that adds another benefit because when I pick up the phone for one action or bit of information, I find that I end up consuming more time with other on-device distractions.
Let me know if you caught on to this quicker than I did, and if you’re using your phone less thanks to the smart home and IoT.