NEWS – Most devices are smart, meaning they do something for us. They often provide things that could not be done manually. High performance is often required for applications on our phones, and these applications often communicate with external servers. But what happens when these servers are no longer available?
As an example, consider VanMoof, a Dutch ebike manufacturer known for two things. First, they had a lot of money. In 2021 they boasted that they were “the world’s highest-grossing e-bike company,” having generated $182 million in revenue in two years. Two, they did e-bike and other mature products. The VanMoof app can be used to unlock bikes without a key, track their ride without GPS, update settings such as a new gear change history, and even report the bike as missing.
You may have heard, VanMoof has recently been in trouble. The future of their e-bikes with all their digital features, including the ability to unlock the bike was in doubt. As equipment enthusiasts, this story should make us stop and ask two questions:
- Does that tool really need an app?
- And how much can I spend on hardware with software?
Some tools honestly require software to be very useful. When I do my work Yes robotic vacuum to clean the floor, I just want them to remove it from the living room. This requires a program with a map of my house to select that one room. Some devices may use an app but work fine without it. My washing machine can be controlled by a program, if I want it to start at a certain time, say an hour before I go home from work; but all cleaning products are available on the console. I have never used this program to wash my clothes, and I don’t need to. Some devices have transferred information to their software. I have Soundcore Wakey alarm clock that I can change the time and set the alarm using this app. In a world where even the most well-funded companies can quickly lose money and leave the future of their software and servers uncertain, perhaps we should choose tools that have their functionality on the device itself rather than those that transfer functionality to software.
The cheapest software tool I have is Marklife font maker. For $20 I can buy another one if his company disappears. My washing machine, however, costs $1000. This is very difficult to change if the developer has passed. Maybe we should stay away from expensive hardware that requires software to run if possible.
The purpose of this article is not to persuade you to buy this tool or to avoid it. It’s just thinking about how software affects the devices you buy. What role does the app play in the decision to purchase a device?