Here’s the best thing about bad viewing angles

Everyone’s having a peek

Human eyes have a knack for looking at what they’re not meant to. We’re hardwired voyeurs, constantly looking over shoulders and shooting sideways glances at the intimate moments of unsuspecting strangers.

On the flip side, concerns over privacy in the digital age seem set at an eternal boil, and everyone is concerned, to some degree or another, over who has access, and how much, to their private digital mind.

Yet we walk around with our displays set at full brightness. We sit on the train, the bus, in cafes, at work, with our screens blaring out, “look at me!” Nothing attracts the eye more than a bright, flickering screen. I’ve spent hours watching strangers play Candy Crush on public transportation, or sort through their calendars or type messages on WhatsApp. I’m not that interested in what they’re doing, it’s just a convenient distraction. But it’s not just me – everyone’s looking.

AndroidPIT privacy hero

Maybe it’s not that smart to go around entering your bank details while you wait for your cappuccino to arrive, yes; maybe you shouldn’t browse your photo reel on a 5.7-inch phablet in line for a ticket at the cinema, true. But, also, isn’t this exactly what smartphones are meant for? If we were only meant to do these things at home, with the curtains drawn and the doors locked, we’d be doing them on a laptop, and we’d feel a strange sense of guilt and shame.

No one watches videos at a 167-degree angle anymore

Smartphone manufacturers now brag about their screens having almost 180-degree viewing angles. This is absurd, useless. Like most human beings (I presume), I hold my phone in my hand and look down on it with my eyes at a roughly zero-degree angle. Never have I lamented the fact that I can’t read the morning news at an acrobatic 142-degree angle; never have I wondered why it’s the case that all the colors in the game I’m playing look strange as I peer down the barrel of my phone (perhaps I’m angling the speaker at my face?).

AndroidPIT screen viewing angle 1294 2

Judging 180-degree viewing angles is like caring how the Mona Lisa looks from atop the Eiffel Tower. There’s only one way to look at it: up close, head on. Likewise, I only need to look at a screen, and particularly my smartphone screen, from one angle.

Let’s make them worse

Having smartphone screens with deliberately inhibited viewing angles, like you see on bank machines, might actually be advantageous. Fewer people would witness how bad I am at level 125 of Candy Crush, steal my identity and empty my bank account.

And even if we’re not likely to be victims of identity theft, it would, at least, stop people from peering in that subtle but actually really obvious way at what others are reading, playing, browsing or otherwise doing.

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