Stay informed, visit our spot for tech, breaking news and in-depth coverage today.

TheupspotDon't miss out

Finding Balance with the iPhone 14 Pro: Unveiling the Good and the Bad of Modern Phones

Listening to a baseball game on the radio while simultaneously tracking the score on my phone gives me an exhilarating feeling akin to being a psychic. On my iPhone 14 Pro’s screen, I watch the numbers climb to 10-8 several pitches before Dave Sims enthusiastically announces Cal Raleigh’s spectacular home run on the broadcast. However, the excitement of this experience diminishes when the score takes a disappointing turn in the opposite direction. Luckily, on Sunday, the Mariners managed to triumph over the Blue Jays in extra innings, making it an unforgettable classic game. It had all the elements that make baseball thrilling: a grand slam, a tablet meeting its demise in a fit of rage—everything you’d love to witness. Even after the game concluded, I chose to keep the final scorecard as my lock screen background, savoring the taste of victory.

After experimenting with a series of high-powered Android phones, I’ve returned to the iPhone 14 Pro. Although I extensively used the iPhone last autumn, some notable changes have occurred since then regarding its standout features. The Dynamic Island, which refers to the free-floating notch at the top of the screen displaying at-a-glance information, and the always-on display now offer additional functionality, thanks to Apple’s decision to allow third-party developers to integrate Live Activities. Moreover, with the commencement of baseball season, a significant use case for me, the iPhone proves to be even more valuable.

Live Activities, a feature introduced in iOS 16, is not exclusive to the iPhone 14 Pro but available across most iPhones. It allows apps to provide real-time updates for time-sensitive events, which are visible on the lock screen. However, on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, Dynamic Island enhances this experience by displaying some of that information while you’re engaged in other tasks on your phone. Additionally, on the 14 Pro models, these updates are also visible on the always-on display, which differs from traditional always-on displays as it shows a dim version of your lock screen. This means you can effortlessly glance at the game score or track your Uber ride’s whereabouts without lifting a finger.

The combination of more apps supporting Live Activities, Dynamic Island, and the always-on display has further refined the overall appeal of the iPhone 14 Pro compared to six months ago. Personally, I find it highly convenient. I enjoy being able to stay informed about a Mariners game without needing to enable notifications or unlock my phone and launch an app. It’s gratifying to know whether my Uber ride is merely five minutes away or just around the corner without the need for obsessive checking of the app.

It seems that recently there has been a growing consensus that phones, as they currently exist, are inherently detrimental to our mental well-being. Many argue that we need alternative solutions that are less disruptive and harmful. This line of thinking is exemplified by a recent TED Talk where Humane showcased a mysterious gadget. From leaked videos, it appears to be a replacement technology for phones, featuring a small projector that can be placed in a shirt pocket, allowing the hand to serve as a quick information display. While the premise behind this concept may be questionable, Humane remains secretive about the specifics of their product. Nevertheless, this is not the first attempt to offer an alternative to phones that captures our attention.

However, it’s essential to remember that phones are still integral to our modern lives. The “phones are bad” perspective often overlooks their indispensable role. For instance, how would one easily sign their child out of daycare using a pocket projector? There are numerous aspects we appreciate about our phones that do not harm our mental health. Personally, I value the ability to confidently navigate unfamiliar public transit systems with the help of my phone. I appreciate having a device in my pocket that allows me to video call my parents spontaneously, enabling them to see their grandchild who lives far away. I enjoy the convenience of using the Libby app to finish a book, explore available options from the library, and check out a new book while sitting on the bus. These are just a few examples of the positive aspects that phones bring to our lives.

It’s true that app developers bear some responsibility for the addictive and attention-grabbing nature of certain apps. Their focus is often on keeping us scrolling, making purchases, and spending more time within their apps, rather than promoting a healthy relationship with our phones. This has led to the overwhelming barrage of notifications that many of us experience daily. Fortunately, phone makers have recognized the need to address this issue and have introduced features like focus modes, screen time tracking, and scheduled notification summaries as a means of helping users regain control. These features have provided some relief, but there is room for improvement.

With the iPhone 14 Pro’s new hardware features, Apple is offering another lifeline to combat the problem. However, upon revisiting Dynamic Island, it becomes apparent that there is still more that could be done. There are certain capabilities that are not currently supported, even though they seem well within the device’s capabilities. For example, while the Uber app supports Live Activities, Uber Eats does not (at least not yet) provide real-time updates on the status of your food delivery. Additionally, there is no straightforward way to opt-in to receive real-time updates for every game played by your favorite sports team. Instead, you receive a notification that the game is about to start, and tapping it takes you to the Apple TV app to enable live updates.

Live Activities are designed for events with defined start and end times. While baseball games are known for sometimes stretching on endlessly, measures like the pitch clock have been introduced to mitigate this issue. These events are ones that users have a clear interest in following in real-time, such as games, timers, or rideshare rides. Once the events conclude, the related information naturally disappears. However, what many of us desire are features that surface information relevant to our habits and daily activities, which presents a slightly more complex challenge.

You raise valid points regarding the desire for more proactive features that anticipate our needs. It would be incredibly useful to have bus arrival times displayed in a lock screen widget when rushing to catch public transportation, or for the phone to automatically open the daycare app when approaching the building. While it is possible to set up automations to achieve these tasks, the process is not straightforward and often requires specific user input, rather than the phone intuitively understanding our needs. Creating complex iOS shortcuts can be challenging and may require technical expertise beyond the average user’s capabilities. It’s likely that most iOS users are unfamiliar with the concept of automations and may not be interested in setting them up.

It’s intriguing to consider that our phones have the ability to gather data on our activities, such as the people we interact with and their recent purchases, in order to serve us targeted ads. With that in mind, it’s reasonable to expect that our phones could also utilize that information to provide us with other genuinely helpful features that do not involve selling us something.

This is precisely why the new features of the iPhone 14 Pro feel refreshing. They offer useful information in the right place and at the right time, often without requiring additional input from the user. To fully unleash their potential, it will be crucial for more third-party app developers to embrace these features. The fact that Dynamic Island is expected to be available on all iPhone 15 models suggests that more app makers will likely adopt it. This development is timely, as it will greatly assist in keeping track of the Mariners’ postseason games and provide a valuable tool for staying informed.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.