Why Are iPhones So Popular? An Outsiders View

Until recently, I could not understand why the iPhone was so popular. I had always been an android kind of person and didn’t know when each new generation came out why it was considered so innovative when it was barely different fro the years previous. I finally sat down and looked at one, and was a little surprised.

I have always been pretty decent with technology and learned it quickly. Android phones are much more customization, and I can set it just like I like with loading times and battery proficiency that worked well for me. When I picked up an iPhone, specifically family members, I was not trying to prove anything. I had been asked to grab it for her and dial another family member for her while she was cooking.

I opened the slide lock and saw the simple home screen from every iPhone commercial ever, and sighed while I dialed the number and handed the phone over. After she was finished, I took a look again and after tinkering with it for a minute, came to a realization. Yes, there are people out there that will buy a product because of the brand even though something that may work better is cheaper.

Apple has been the ultimate hipsters phone, and I just didn’t understand why this thing was so attractive. I get the iPod and Mac as they do have some benefits in portability and as a creative machine respectively, but I have always stuck with my PC and Android phone with Google Play. That is when it hit me.

What do all of these Apple products have in common? A hefty price tag for sure but the user is what links these together. As I said before, I had always been with it when it comes to technology and have an phone repair technician in the family when I did not fully understand something. Not everyone is that lucky or tech savvy. I believe one of the main reasons that the iPhone has become so popular is not only because it is a fashionable, simple device, but also a straightforward one. Several of my older family members have iPhones, and though they may have the slight complaint every once in awhile, they seem perfectly happy with it.

I will admit; Apple has a tactic that works. There marketing strategy is fun and colorful for teens and tweens while the easy to use apps and standardized OS make getting used to it very comfortable. With each new iPhone they can upgrade if they want to, and feel on the cusp of technology with a familiar set up that they can use right away. This phone is for people that aren’t caught up in the newest update and faster screen changes, but rather a common tool to use that can play a game or two while you wait.

I still will probably not use an iPhone as I am happy with my current phone, but after looking at the iPhone and playing with it with my family members, I can appreciate the elegance there is to be found in simplicity.

Plague Inc.: Why You Should Play This Terrible Game

Plague Incorporated is an….interesting mobile game to say the least. When I first heard of it a few years ago, it sounded like a weird game, and I was not wrong. With a bizarre setup and dark premise, Plague Inc. was one of those types of games that you play just to see what the heck is going on.

First released in May of 2012 by Ndemic Creations, Plague Inc. is a strategy game that has the player create and evolve a pathogen, with the goal to destroy the entire world by the plague. With a system that goes in depth on the ways sickness is transmitted and symptoms are caused, the player must pay attention and overcome several real world obstacles to achieve total annihilation.

This game offers ten different disease types, starting off easy with a bacteria and escalating to harder and harder difficulties the more you succeed. This game has high replay value because it contains 20 unique scenarios that can change the way a variable behaves, ultimately changing your strategy midgame. With full co-operative modes available as well as a contagious content creator, levels and scenarios are being regularly updated.

When I first heard about it, I was a little weirded out. I guess I can understand military FPS games and sure Candy Crush can be fun but Plague? That just sounds terrible. I was mostly right, as watching the world slowly die as governments topple and society turns to anarchy while scientists are working desperately to find a cure in time make you feel the weight of what you are doing. Feeling like a terrible human being, I downloaded it onto my phone (it was free) and started to play. I was met with a curious conundrum; what do I want to call this new deadly disease? The first level of the game is bacteria, as it has excellent spreadability and can mutate quickly, so I just threw a name at the wall and typed in Rouge (since I had recently watched Chicago and the lyric was stuck in my head).

As Rouge began to spread and I started getting points for some people infected, I found using the upgrade system and watching the world become infected mesmerizing. The lovely blue and green Earth with little planes jetting back and forth were starting to turn a devilish red, as Rouge began to take hold. My disease has not killed anyone yet, and I found that I made the worsening symptoms start happening too fast, and a cure was found quickly. I had failed to infect the world, and I should have been relieved right? I was a little upset and came up with a new plan to achieve human extinction.

I played and played, failing only a couple more times before finally the map turned completely red with 100% infection. The entire world had Rouge, but no one was dying, and the scientists were not trying too hard to fix it. Without mercy, I fully upgraded my disease with all the plague points I had been collecting, and the world slowly started to turn black. Finally, I received the mission complete screen: I had killed everything on planet Earth.

This is a terrible game, but not because of the gameplay. The dark premise of spreading disease like a rat is awful, and you will feel a littler ashamed….until the next level beats you. I love this game, and many others do as well as it sits at a 4.5 out of 5 stars and has a full release on Steam. This is a terrible game, but you will love playing every minute of it!

Which Apps Were Most Popular in 2015?

 

Anyone who owns a smartphone knows how different life would be if we didn’t have apps. They make life simpler, as they say, “there’s an app for that!” With the thousands of apps out there, it got me thinking: Which ones are the most popular? Not just in download numbers but what apps do people say they cannot live without? I figured most of them would be social media sites and games like Candy Crush, but I was surprised to find out how almost….mundane these top apps were. Maybe that is why they seem boring, I use everything on the list myself except number 9 and 10, and that is simply because of the type of phone that I own. So, based on the average number of users per day as well as my personal preferences, here are the top 8 mobile apps of 2015.

  1. Instagram – A popular social media app, I am sure most are familiar with the picture taking capabilities and sharing this app is famous for. With 55.4 million users, it is continuing to rise in popularity.
  2. Gail – This one makes much sense to me. I work online, and I communicate almost entirely through email with my boss, since I work from home. With a jump in viewers at 75.1, people agree this is a handy app.
  3. Google Maps – As an Android user, Google maps is how I get everywhere. I have family members that have phones that prefer Google map mainly because they remember using it on their PC and printing out the directions, and with 87.7 million users, they are in the majority. With the functional simplicity and mostly-accurate maps, you would be hard pressed to find somewhere Google did not map them.
  4. Google Play —  Since most of us use our phones for just about everything from picture taking to navigation; a media player is not that hard to imagine. Google Play is a great way to listen to your music with a simple app to customize settings and make a playlist for all of the life’s daily grinds, and with 89.7 million users, it is “hear” to stay. (sorry for the terrible pun…)
  5. Google Search – This one is a no-brainer: whether you are in an argument about what actor that was in The Departed or need some inspiration for home decorating, Google search is everyone’s best friend at 95 million users.
  6. Facebook Messenger – A handy companion to Facebook, this app makes chatting with your friends easier when you are out, and has a free calling feature that works great. 96.4 million users agree it is a great little app.
  7. YouTube – Television is been replaced slowly with sites like Netflix and Hulu Plus, but YouTube is actually on top when it comes to media entertainment apps. 97.6 million users agree it is an excellent source for information, how-to’s, and Lets Plays for all your entertainment needs.
  8. Facebook – last but certainly not least, this one should not be surprising. 126.7 million daily users, and I completely agree with it being number one because I have Facebook open on my phone as I type right now.  Facebook is king, and it does not look like it is going anywhere anytime soon.

What Are the Safest Cell Phones on the Market?

In regards to EMF radiation, you may be wondering how it is measured and what cell phones are the safest to use. In 1996, the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) worked alongside the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) , along with several other federal organizations with three letters, to create guidelines that measure the rate body tissue absorbs radiation energy during cell phone use. This guide helpfully named specific absorption rates, or SAR for short, for mobile phones as an industry standard way to measure radiation levels from these devices and rate them accordingly.

SAR limits are based on a cell phone call that on average has the user in direct contact with the phone to the ear for 30 minutes. Before dropping your phone and springing for a new one right then and there, take note that using a wireless earpiece or simply texting can lower these levels for any phone. These amounts are directly related to general call use. 1.6 is the highest amount allowable by the FCC for any device on the market today, however, continuing to lower this number with practiced techniques such as limited calling can reduce the number to almost nothing.

The FCC database has a yearly list of SAR levels for market cell phones that they publish, but to make things simpler we will list the top 10 cell phones on the list along with their SAR score and carrier for 2015, so you can make an educated decision when looking for a new phone in early 2016.

  1.  Pantech Swift – with a 0.386 SAR level,  this At&T phone is one of the many cell phones to dip below the 1.0 line but only rates as number 10 on the SAR list.
  2. Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere II – 0.37 SAR level is respectable of this Verizon phone, and it isn’t that last of this heavy hitter carrier we will see on the list.
  3. Samsung Galaxy Beam – A phone carried by Unlocked, an SAR level of 0.36 makes only a 0.01 difference between these places, making it a close call but having the Beam just squeaking into 8th place.
  4. Pantech Discover – Another tiny difference, AT&T’s phone has an SAR level of 0.35 which still puts it in the lower half of lowest radiation cell phones. Not a bad place to be with hundreds of phones existing on the market today.
  5. Kyocera Dura XT – Offered by Sprint, this phone’s SAR level sits at 0.328 with the largest jump in numbers thus far.
  6. Samsung Galaxy Mega – Sitting right in the middle of our list, another Samsung phone carried by AT&T has an SAR level of 0.321, putting it only 0.007 higher than the XT.
  7. Samsung Galaxy Note 2 – a favorite Galaxy phone carried by Verizon, it’s SAR level of 0.28 is the first to hit the 0.2 mark.
  8. ZTE Nubia 5 – the first member of the top 3 lowest SAR level list sits at a respectable SAR score of 0.225, carried by Unlocked.
  9. Samsung Galaxy Note – The Galaxy Note II may be an excellent choice as an update to the first generation, but it still cannot be beaten by its predecessors SAR level of 0.19, carried by T-Mobile, the first time this carrier made it on our list.
  10. Moreover, finally, the cell phone with the lowest SAR level goes to… Verkool Vortext RS90 carried by Unlocked at a mere 0.18.

Everyday EMF Shielding Techniques

Cell phones are a product that so many people in the world today have, and our lives are becoming more and more connected to this technological marvel. Studies have shown correlations between DNA damage and possible cancer causing tumors that have appeared on patient’s brains. Whether you believe one way or the other, several techniques exist that can limit your contact with these electromagnetic emissions. Whichever way you lean, taking a safer stance on cell phone usage is not necessarily a bad idea. To help protect yourself against these harmful frequencies the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) recommends that you:

  • Distance Expand the distance between your body and the phone itself with a hands-free device or feature. Wearing an earpiece or using the speakerphone can help keep you out of range of the EMF coming from your device.
  • Texting — texting and only calling when it is necessary can keep your head and ears away from the cell phone more often, so even if you cannot limit use altogether, this is still a way to protect what is important.
  • Boosted Signal — Wait for an optimal signal before using your device. When you have a weak signal, your phone must work harder, which in turn creates more radiation. Opting to use your phone only when the signal is best will decrease the likelihood of the radiation causing more damage.
  • Talking — Be mindful when you speak on the phone. Your cell phone produces more EMF radiation when transmitting versus receiving, so make sure to lift the phone off of your ear when speaking to limit exposure.
  • Set Limits — Limit exposure completely if pregnant or nursing. EMF radiation can be harmful to an adult, but can have an especially devastating effect on a baby. Restrict the amount of time you are on the phone as much as possible to avoid potential complications.

Some companies offer EMF shields that can be added to your phone to help block some of the radiation coming from the device. Do not take all of these offers at face value. However, studies have yet to show examples of these products working efficiently over extended periods of time. Purchasing one of these phone treatments will not harm anything, just be cautious and educate yourself when selecting the brand and type of EMF shielding.

Funding Bias is a real concern, and being wary of companies that say their products have been tested for safety is a great way to keep yourself from being fooled. Some businesses fund these studies to lean in their favor so their product can be marketed as “safe”. Impartial scientific tests along multiple goods and companies are your best bet for an unbiased answer.

Staying on top of these studies done on multiple cell phones is your best bet when coming to conclusions about the problems with cell phone radiation. EMF shielding may not be perfect, but scientific advancement will only tell when these can become a more viable technique to protect yourself.

For more information regarding cell phones and the risks associated with overuse, see the National Cancer Institute’s page Cell Phones and Cancer Risk.