Everything new seems so much shiner now a days. The HTC M8 is currently one of the highest rated Android Phones on the market boasting an all metal chasis. Samsung is getting a large amount of praise for it's Galaxy Alpha and huge step in the right direction for the company. Apple released another aluminum iPhone, in almost all ways subjectively better. But as what is now being called bendgate is showing us, sometimes quality material does not create quality product. So there comes the question...
Why are we buying them?
In the tech world we vote with our wallets, and right now shiny, jewel like materials are in. Aluminum, steel, leather, even wood (à la Moto X) are being used to house delicate, complex miniature computers. Software is arguably following suit, with the iPhone being the definitive argument for presentation ruling over performance and possibility, but the rest of the software world too is adopting new, aesthetically pleasing and unique interfaces for users. Google is showcasing and working with developers on it's new "Material Design" theme of the latest Android Update, titled Android L. Microsoft is still pushing it's beautiful, block based Metro Design and for fluidity between devices with a common unifying graphical format. Companies are building dictionaries and guides to encourage developers to adopt these new modern software designs too. Flat and Metal are in. But why?
As a first world culture, we are beginning to value technology as less than simply a tool or asset but as a personal extension of ourselves and character. The market desire for build quality and beauty is affecting the way both we shape technology and technology shapes around us. Personal Technology is becoming fashion, and we want it to express ourselves as individuals. And this is not the strange, cat shaped coddling weeabos we envision in this strange concept of "dressing" one's tech. Every bit of your phone, your tablet, your laptop, in some way reflects you as an individual. A case can speak to what kind of perspective you have in utilizing your phone, wallpapers add a easy to customize sense of personality likened to the color of your watch or your choice in outfit. To some, especially on Android, the design of your home pages is one that expressive of your own tastes.
Personal devices are not simply being molded into crafted products that have some hints of individuality or taste, products that often defined this cognition such as watches, glasses, wristbands, are being adopted into our technological ecosystems. The Indie funded brand Pebble watch Steel addressed the first wave Smart Watch's main problem, they were not the aesthetic definition of watches. They were plastic notifiers on our wrists. With Moto 360 and the Apple watch, quality materials are making these technological accessories beautiful, and pleasant to view. Many may argue that Google's Glass were poorly designed, but take a look at the new compatible models being released. They are being created with new, well designed frames, and bright colors that actually look good. Even smart bands like the Jawbone Up are finding creative ways to essentially wrap your wrist in a line of blocky plastic.
This trend is spreading, as we've arguably only just begun to see how companies can create products that feel valuable to us, and act as more than tiny computers with different purposes. Aesthetic is defining how are products are being created, the only question is where will it go from here.
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