productivityThorin Klosowski poses an interesting question over at Lifehacker: Are phones good productivity tools? Klosowski argues that, for almost every productivity task he needs to accomplish, there is a desktop or tablet app that will do it quicker and more efficiently than his phone.

“None of this is to say that I don’t appreciate a smartphone for what it is,” he hastily reassures us. “I still take pictures all the time, I listen to podcasts, dink around on Twitter, and look up oddball questions in the browser. But none of those things are actually productive.”

I suppose that for me, it all comes down to what you define as ‘productive.’ I don’t have enough appointments that I necessarily need an app to remind me of them, but that’s not about a phone or not a phone. I wouldn’t have a desktop app for that either. One thing I do spend a lot of time on, both for work and for personal enjoyment, is reading and a phone absolutely makes me more productive in that regard.

Sure, I may wait until I’m at the computer to save articles to Evernote or read Web-based content—itis more efficient on the desktop, and my phone’s data plan is not very robust. But cross-device e-book synccing has been the tech world’s gift to me in the last few years. The ability to sneak in a chapter while I’m on the bus, and then resume it at home on the book-sized screen of my choosing, is absolutely magical.

Sure, I see his point to a degree. I’m not going to whip out my iPhone and start word processing on it. But if I have a few minutes to kill, mid-commute, and I can choose between a book or a game of solitaire, it’s clear to me what the more ‘productive’ choice is.


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