My fiancée must think I hate her. I haven’t responded to her requests to thumbkiss — press my thumb against my smartphone at the same moment she does the same with hers — or seen any of the messages she’s sent me via Couple, a “relationship app for two” we sometimes use to stay in touch. For someone whose job requires that the smartphone never be more than a few feet away, I kinda suck at promptly responding to these messages.
It would be easier if Couple or any of the other smartphone-only social networks and messaging services were available on the Web. Dismissing my smartphone’s vibrations as an unwanted email or a figment of my imagination is easy — failing to notice something happening on my computer screen is much harder.
The problem is that so many of these services are so focused on smartphones and tablets that they ignore the computers people are already using. It’s easy to see why: Smartphone and tablet sales are expected to eclipse computer sales sooner rather than later; many people are coming online with cheap smartphones instead of computers; and the many app stores available on these devices offer a built-in audience for these services. It’s also cheaper to support a few smartphone platforms than it is to support those platforms and a website.
Companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google don’t have to worry about those problems. They came to prominence back when the Web was new and smartphones sucked. Now they’re able to use their existing properties to (hopefully) popularize and provide near-ubiquitous access to their services. Which would you rather use: a service that could only be accessed via one device, or a service that’s available on everything you own?
I prefer the latter. It’s why I use Hangouts to chat with my co-workers, Facebook Messenger for quick conversations with my fiancée, and iMessage for anyone else who wants to chat while I’m working. None of these services particularly care what device I use to access them — it’s easy to start a conversation on my computer, continue it on my smartphone, and then wrap things up on my tablet.
Other services, like the “video-texting” app Glide, ephemeral messengers like Snapchat, and chat apps like WhatsApp are nice enough. I like video chatting,
sexts temporary chats, and Internet-enabled communications as much as the next guy. But their refusal to support anything that doesn’t ship with a touchscreen makes it hard to use them as my primary communications tools.
Sure, it might be hard to thumbkiss through a trackpad. But in a world where seemingly every device is connected to the Internet and capable of performing many of the same functions, the inability to check my messages on my laptop seems silly at best.
[Image courtesy Unsplash.com]