Let’s talk about the slow, but irremediable, death of the instruction manuals in the boxes of the mobiles
Do you remember when you bought a mobile and an instruction manual came in the box? Because it is normal, right? You buy something new and most likely you want to learn to use it properly, and not have to look for your life to know all its functions.
Today you can open the box of any mobile to realize that the warranty is coming, a quick start guide (insert the SIM, turn on the mobile and follow these steps to start it), a little pin to remove the SIM tray and, with luck, charger Y headphones. But not an instruction manual Tell you how to put a widget on the screen or take advantage of that function that is in the settings and that you will not discover unless you investigate on your own.
Increasingly complex devices without an instruction manual
And it is curious, of course. The mobiles of now have little or nothing to do with those of years ago in terms of functions and options. They are much more complex, they have a handful of things And, despite what logic might indicate, they do not have instructions in the box that teach us to take advantage of them from moment one. Let’s not think of us, technology fans with a high knowledge of what we have in our hands, let’s think of an elderly person or someone who simply has no interest in reading about technology.
In my case, I remember the instruction manual that came in the box of the Nokia X6-00, which was already a smartphone (saving the distance). Inside we could find this fabulous text of 212 pages in which absolutely everything related to the mobile was explained. Literally on page 39 it teaches the user how to make a call. Yes, we are all, more or less, capable of making a call on our mobile, but surely not all of us know how a mobile safe is used, what it means to encrypt the memory or how the notifications that X sends us are deactivated app.
But not only that, but basic things, like adding a widget to the home screen or downloading an app. I have no proof, but I also have no doubts that someone older than your close circle has surely asked you at some time how to download WhatsApp. It is no coincidence that operators and stores usually offer set-up services. This is done because, unless you have an instruction manual handy, it is not easy for a person who is not initiated in the world of technology.
So there are no more instruction manuals? Nothing is further from reality. Manufacturers usually (not always) put them in PDF on your website, but it is the user who must worry about reaching them. And finally, for us using the Internet is simple and our daily bread, but tell my grandmother to 1) know her mobile model, 2) get to Google, 3) look for an instruction manual, 4) know how to get to him and 5) know how to open the PDF. It is as if you ask an ordinary user to fly a rocket to Mars, if the metaphor may be permitted.
And yes, it is true that I cannot imagine my grandmother looking for how to use the mobile safe or how to use Google Lens (although it would be quite useful on certain occasions), but I can imagine her looking for a photo in her gallery to share it by the family group or by saving a new contact in your agenda, and that, if you don’t know how to do it and you don’t have a supporting document at hand, it may not be easy. And less considering the number of models, versions of operating systems and options that there are.
Too many things to consider
And we get to the bottom of the matter, and it is that it is not something simple. On the one hand we have to give the user options and give him the power to know his device in depth (if he wants, beware, nobody here forces anyone to know how to use the manual mode of the mobile camera). On the other hand, we have the commitment to the environment and what it means print 150 pages, even if they are small, to put them in the box of each mobile that is sold.
That, in a way, explains why the instruction manuals of the mobile phones have been converted into PDF files, while in the boxes of simpler devices, such as headphones or connected light bulbs, which have less bustle, yes they are included. In the end, they are devices that are configured once and that’s it, so it is acceptable, in some way, to put a small instruction manual in the box, and not always.
In less complex devices, such as headphones and smart bulbs, manuals are often found
In short: it is curious how, while mobile phones, which are everyday devices, have become more complex, the instruction manuals have disappeared from the boxesThose cardboard containers that everyone knows how to open and where, predictably, there should be everything you need to use your mobile one hundred percent.
And do you know where the instruction manuals have almost completely disappeared? From the video game boxes, where before there used to be a little booklet with basic commands, tips and a little bit of lore. Not now, now the disc is coming and little else, you will learn to use it in the tutorial at the beginning of the game, unless we are talking about ‘Black Desert’, in which case luck, patience and a lot of YouTube.
This article is part of a weekly section of Jose Garcia dedicated to approaching technology from a more relaxed, personal and informal point of view that we publish in Engadget every Saturday.