For most people, a cellphone has become almost like an extra appendage.
It goes with us everywhere and is rarely out of reach.
And most people are also now sporting so-called smartphones.
But how many of the features on these handheld computers are we using?
Redditor akand_1 asked:
"What is your most unused feature on your phone?"
"I’ve been on silent for at least 9 years."
"What? Bixby is my MOST used feature!
"I mean, never on purpose, it just happens to get pressed ALL THE F'KING TIME!"
"GODDAMMIT WHY DID THEY ADD A DEDICATED BUTTON?"
"I have never opened that app."
"I don't even know what it does, it's not the App store, that's a different App."
"You can buy new apple hardware using that app."
"I also never used it."
"Most of the Samsung sh*t that you can't delete, only disable. Ugh. Oh and Bixby."
"And likewise, all the Apple bloatware."
"Same. Actually I think all phones are problematic with bloatware."
"I think it would be better if we could remove all apps easier."
"Anything that’s in my utilities folder."
"Measure, stocks, compass..."
"The only one I use from there is calculator."
"I just looked at my phone and discovered measure. Never even knew it was there."
"And no, I don't need a compass. What would I use it for if I have GPS?"
"I am not planning on getting lost in the woods."
"Measure is actually really cool. You can use it as a pretty accurate level and you can use AR to measure stuff. Also quite accurate in my experience."
"Unfortunately, when I need to level or measure something, it's very rare that I need a tool that's 'pretty' accurate."
Take A Picture
"The selfie camera."
"I just hate taking pics of myself."
"Ditto, but in my case it's more because I have spatial awareness/prosopagnosia issues because of autism."
"I can't center my face in the selfie view."
"It's complicated, but basically my brain gets confused about which direction to move to get my full face in a shot. I look like an idiot moving the camera and my face around trying to line them up."
"Every selfie I manage to cut some part of my face off by having it out of frame so I just don't bother."
Shut up, Siri
"Any type of voice command."
"That’s it for me. I hate talking to machines."
"Even if it worked perfectly, which it never does, I’d rather use the more cumbersome method of manually entering my commands."
"Word. I love technology, but I hate talking to a machine."
"Literally any other interface is preferable."
It Happens Eventually By Itself
"The off button."
"My old phone tends to run out of charge, as opposed to switching it off."
"My iPhoneX needs a few buttons pressed to get to the swipe to off screen."
"I have to turn it off so rarely I have to look up the button combo each time."
"Usually I end up taking a few screen shots of my desktop until I say f'k it and look it up."
No News Is...
"If I want to see any news I just open Reddit. Anything important will have memes about it."
"Same, if I want to read the news I use the internet browser but I never use the app."
"How would I know?"
"Phones have so many features now that everyone's 'least used' is likely something they don't even know it has."
Until I got a job that required using the phone to actually talk to other humans, that was my least used feature.
If it can't be sent in a text, IM or email, do I need to hear it? I don't think so, but society still disagrees. *sigh*
So what's just taking up space on your phone?
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Most of us shudder at the thought of harm coming to the $1,000 glass bricks on which we store our lives, but a curious group of scientists at the University of Plymouth decided to reduce a smartphone to dust just to find out what was inside. And they are hoping people will start to pay attention to what they found.
Look around these days and you will find a smartphone in the hands of almost every man, woman or teenager out there, but despite their ubiquity, the average user probably doesn't know much about what makes the devices we are so dependent on work, and even less about what is inside of them.
Geologists at University of Plymouth are hoping to change that.
With the demand for the rare earth minerals used by high-tech devices increasing, Dr. Arjan Dijkstra and Dr. Colin Wilkins from Plymouth's School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences wanted to know more about minerals used in smartphones and just how much of each were packed in there.
The project was a success, but their chances of getting insurance to replace the phone aren't looking too good:
What's in a smartphone? www.youtube.com
To really break down what was inside the phone, Dijkstra and Wilkins first had to break open the phone, and they were far from gentle about it.
After blending the phones to shreds, the researchers reduced what was left to dust in a 500°C furnace so they could perform a chemical analysis.
Although the elements they found didn't surprise them, the quantity of each made them stand up and take notice.
Along with more common minerals like aluminum, copper and iron, the phone contained 900mg of tungsten, 70mg of cobalt and molybdenum, 160mg of neodymium and 30mg of praseodymium.
It's these rarer elements that Dijkstra and Wilkins are hoping consumers will start paying attention to.
"We rely increasingly on our mobile phones but how many of us actually think what is behind the screen? When you look the answer is often tungsten and cobalt from conflict zones in Africa," says Dijkstra. "There are also rare elements such as neodymium, praseodymium, gadolinium and dysprosium, not to mention quantities of gold, silver and other high value elements. All of these need to be mined by extracting high value ores, which is putting a significant strain on the planet."
With a better idea of what is inside their phones and what it takes to obtain these elements Dijkstra and Wilkins are hoping consumers will help push manufacturers towards more sustainable practices.
"Mining can be part of the solution to the world's problems. But we are now in a climate where people are becoming more socially responsible and interested in the contents of what they are purchasing," said Wilkins.
The other half of the solution according to the researchers is increased recycling rates for old phones. The more rare elements that can be reused, the less need there will be to mine more. Fortunately we may already be moving in that direction.
"Partly on the back of this, several of the major mobile phone companies have committed to upping their recycling rates," said Wilkins. "It is a positive sign that the throwaway society we have lived in for decades is changing."
The project may not have done the phone any favors, but Dijkstra and Wilkins' wacky experiment certainly got people talking.
Although many just felt bad for the poor phone.
@PlymUni @PlymUniNews @GeoArjan @SciEngPlymUni @PlymEarth I hope the phone was already broken before they put it in… https://t.co/qRp4bPKRQq— 🌹 Rosie Greene 😷 #RipOffNUIG #FreeBritney (@🌹 Rosie Greene 😷 #RipOffNUIG #FreeBritney) 1552591325.0
@PlymUni @PlymUniNews @GeoArjan @SciEngPlymUni @PlymEarth Dude... my heart broke with that phone! Koodos to his courage 😂— Spina99 (@Spina99) 1552621245.0
As far as "breakdowns" go, blending did seem a bit harsh.
@PlymUni @PlymUniNews @GeoArjan @SciEngPlymUni @PlymEarth Wouldn’t it have been more straightforward to ask Apple? 🙃— Abdul-Hannan (@Abdul-Hannan) 1552647367.0
@PlymUni @PlymUniNews @GeoArjan @SciEngPlymUni @PlymEarth But couldn’t you do this by just taking apart the phone?… https://t.co/IV3iA5W0mO— 🌸🌸🌸 (@🌸🌸🌸) 1552577378.0
But it wasn't without good reason.
For those who are wondering why the phone needed to be blended "Many of the chemical elements are present in very s… https://t.co/UfL8q0cdGe— University of Plymouth (@University of Plymouth) 1552581172.0
"So if you want to 'catch them all' you need to grind the whole phone to a powder, and dissolve that powder in acid… https://t.co/YVkv7WaXOP— University of Plymouth (@University of Plymouth) 1552581172.0
All things considered, sacrificing one phone in the name of science seems pretty worth it. With data in hand, Dijkstra and Wilkins also seemed to have accomplished their other goal, getting more people to recycle their old phones.
Now the only question is are they eligible for a free upgrade?