It’s Christmas, and you’ll all have probably witnessed the traffic, parking problems and busy stores that are always connected with the festive period. Many of us, for many very valid reasons, have decided to shift a lot of this shopping online. It’s simple, it’s quick and it’s a lot less hassle.
However, on Christmas Eve I went to McDonalds. I don’t often go there, and haven’t been into one for about 6 months. However, this particular one has had a facelift and they’ve got all the latest kit inside. You’ll walk in and, mounted on poles across the back of the “restaurant” are vertical monitors. You simply tap the screen and choose the food you want, then tap your magical contactless card (or slot it in) and a little number gets printed on some paper. You then go and stand in front of the serving area, holding your bit of paper. You look up and watch a monitor with order numbers flashing up.
I’ve seen this a couple of years ago in Spain and yes, it’s clever, but I looked around and suddenly began seeing it all very differently.
The McDonalds counter was split into two parts – the largest part was this “collection area” where you wait and collect your food. The other, smaller, section had two members of staff ready to accept orders from people who want to actually do things “manually”.
What got me was the fact that the queues were forming around the menu screens, but nobody was actually walking up to the two members of staff waiting to collect orders the “old fashioned way”. People were coming in, pressing the screen, tapping their cards, then shuffling across with their special numbered paper and grabbing their food without so much as a “hello” or a “thank you”.
Why were people doing this? Perhaps it’s a generational thing. A lot of the people in McDonald’s that night were younger and they’re probably more used to tablets and gadgets, so it all seemed quite simple and familiar. In your local supermarket, you’ll probably find that the older generation prefer to use the traditional checkout rather than those self-checkout things. It’s partially because the technology might seem daunting, but partially because they actually like talking to people.
I started thinking even more about all this because, after leaving McDonald’s, I went to the petrol station and used the “Pay At The Pump” system. I pulled up, popped my card in, then waited a couple of minutes while the slowest processor in the world decides whether it’ll refresh the screen. Then I headed into Tesco, used the self-checkouts and popped across to Argos to pick up an order that I’d placed through their “Click and Collect” system.
It was only when I’d got home that I fully realised that I’d only said “Thanks” and nothing else. No interaction. No conversation. No assistance or advice. I’d visited a restaurant, a couple of shops and a petrol station and not properly spoken to anyone. I even drove home and used the M6 Toll, which used to have people in the local toll booths, to find that they’re no longer staffed locally – painfully apparent when a driver in front had trouble with the automated coin collector and ended up talking into a speaker and waving at a camera in the gantry. Drivers mostly flow through, tapping their cards or using the tag system to reduce the need to stop and actually meet another human.
At home, when you pick up your tablet or smartphone, you are physically and mentally making the decision to remove yourself. You’re ordering online because you want the convenience, your don’t have the time or you want to perhaps save a bit of cash. However, even when we do physically drag ourselves out to the shops we’re interacting more with machines and screens, not people.
Perhaps, to some, my vision of the future might seem a little far-fetched, but I really don’t think we’re far from a world where actually interacting with others is required any more. We can chat with friends via Facebook, we can fall in love online through dating websites, we can play the best mobile casino apps, we can shop, pay, get help, find answers and solve problems using a mobile device or a machine. There is already no need to talk to people for the most part, and it’s something even kids are realising. We don’t use our phones for talking to people. How often do you use your phone for, y’know, phoning people?
Here I am, trying to be a good father and trying to encourage my son to speak to new people and to be polite, but already many of his peers have started playing on an Xbox or an iPad and communicating through an online world of player handles, social media and games. Is there really a point when we’re getting cash out of a machine, tweeting our complaints and buying via apps and touch-screens?
I look at myself too. In this past year I’ve tried calling a complaints line when I had issues with a dishwasher repair. I was kept on hold or in a queue and passed around several people. I wasted hours and hours, so chose instead to use Twitter and email to complain because it took less of my time and resulted in a more constructive response.
At the moment I can “click and collect” from most major supermarkets and department stores. Even pharmacies. These all probably offer home delivery too, but even when you do make the effort to actually go outside to the shops, you really don’t need to speak to anyone. Sports Direct, Debenhams, Tesco, BHS, Asda, Matalan – even Goldsmiths (a jewellery store) and The Fragrance Shop! So even if your wife thought you’d spent hours choosing the best necklace and perfume, the truth is that you just clicked your mouse a few times and then showed the email on your phone to the person behind the counter. You probably just said, “Thanks” and no more. Some just have lockers in a car-park, so you don’t even need to do that.
Moving forward, I really can’t see things getting any better. Yes, there’s still people who go to the local butchers and have a friendly chat. There’ll still be people who choose to go to the post office to get a parcel delivered instead of printing a delivery note and handing it to a courier. However, let’s circle back to my trip to McDonalds. With self-driving cars just around the corner, I really don’t think it’ll be too far into the future before those burgers are being made by robots. They’d roll off a machine like something out of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – with perhaps one or two people just loading them up. Already we’ve got machines serving drinks in pubs, so we can’t be too far away from machines delivering us the food we’ve ordered.
I think it’s pretty scary. Technology is getting more and more advanced. We’re getting to a stage where we don’t have to go outside at all – we can order our weekly shop, all our gifts, our evening meal and our clothes from our tablets or phones. Then, even if we do go outside to eat or shop, the people we interact with are slowly getting replaced with touch-screens and collection points. We have delivery systems, automated dispensers, self-serve checkouts at supermarkets and the freedom to not talk to anyone.
So when kids grow up, if they choose to, they can be even more uncommunicative. They can interact with screens and have everything provided to them. Even when they go to work, they’ll probably be dealing with devices and computers more than people.
Imagine it. Your self-driving car takes you to McDonald’s and you choose your food from a screen or through voice recognition (no need for someone responding via a headset). You lean out and tap to pay, then some robotic arm kicks into action to prepare your meal before it’s slid through your window without you having to bother moving or discussing anything with another human being.
I feel like Wall-E in the spaceship. Are we all destined to turn out like this?
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There are some stories doing the rounds at the moment about the Pixel C. They aren’t just reviews and first impressions, but about the origins of the tablet.
Let me explain.
We know that the Pixel line has long been attributed to Google’s own high-end Chromebook range, and it was a surprise to most that when they announced their newest tablet, it was given the name Pixel C. Now at first, people suggested that this was a precursor to Google merging Android and Chrome OS together, and whilst that idea has not been completely dismissed (it may still happen down the line), further information about this has died off for now.
The next theory that we saw was that the Pixel C will be used as a way to launch split screen modes for Android tablets. It turns out that this one isn’t true either – although they are apparently working on it, according to the Google hosted Ask Me Anything Reddit that occurred the other day.
A third and most recent story has surfaced. This one was off the back of some leaks around the tablet prior to the announcement. The tablet was going to be codenamed “Ryu”. What makes things interesting is that this term was last seen in the development notes for Chrome OS back in 2014. So with that in mind, let’s take another look at the Pixel C.
Would this have worked as a Chromebook convertible? Yes to a certain extent… but with compromises. Those of you who have used a Chromebook recently will no doubt be aware that touch is something that is supported by Chrome OS, but it isn’t the most pleasant of experiences. Another issue that I have found with Chrome OS is that you don’t have apps as such and this can limit your workflow to a certain degree. It’s no secret that the Pixel C is being pitched as a productivity tool by Google, and the ability to use dedicated apps on the Android platform is one of its strengths. I have found that used in the correct way with a keyboard, Android can be a very good productivity tool. In fact, when I was reporting on the happenings from IFA earlier this year, I used a Xperia Z4 Tablet with its keyboard for 90% of my articles. I only had to resort to using my laptop for a tricky video edit.
So did Google miss a trick here? The jury is out on that one, but it is nice to think what could have been. For me, I am happy with it as is an Android device. Others may have preferred it as a Chrome OS device. Please let us know in the comments below.
For more information about Ryu, then check out this article from Ars Technica where they have gone into the full history of the Ryu codename right through to its use as the name for the software on the Pixel C.
On Thursday, Google thought it would be a good idea to host a Reddit AMA (Ask-Me-Anything) session about the Pixel C. In case you don't know what a Pixel C is, it’s Google’s response to the Microsoft Surface and the Apple iPad Pro. The Pixel C is an Android-based convertible tablet that received pretty bad reviews, which makes Google’s appearance on Reddit AMA even more surprising. As it turned out, Google found itself ambushed by fans who had some serious questions that remained unanswered.
The rumour train has once again stopped by at Coolsmartphone Towers. It dropped off the usual detritus, however, whilst sifting through the rubbish we found this thread of info about the recently discussed Pixel C Android tablet.
Dutch website tweakers.net are stating that Google plans to open the sale of the Pixel C on the Google Store on December 8th in their native country of the Netherlands. Now, it would be logical to assume that this would also mean that we could see the tablet in the UK store at the same time.
Pricing is rumoured to be €499 and €599 respectively for the 32GB and 64GB models, with that funky keyboard coming in at €169. With currency conversion, that would make the 32GB model £358.71 – so £360 with the keyboard being £121.49. Call it £125. These prices are probably not going to be the actual price as it is likely that the Euro symbol will be swapped in for the pound sign as per usual.
I am very excited to see the Pixel C, and would be keen to test one out alongside its keyboard. As someone who uses a Xperia Z4 tablet for most of my writing on this very site, the ability to have tech I can use on the move is a big factor for me. I just hope that they release an LTE model as well.
Here is the launch video of the Pixel C in case you missed it, or just need a refresh
The post Could we see a Pixel C launch next week? I hope so. is original content from Coolsmartphone. If you see it on another news website, please let us know.