Opinion Web Exclusive

Apple makes plans for new transparent texting app to avoid running into things

Transparent App (1)

Francis Emelogu//The Daily Cougar

You’ve probably seen someone walking and texting — their head is down, shoulders hunched, phone lowered and they’re walking slowly.

Whether it’s a quick glance or your nose is buried in it constantly, we have all used our phones while walking, making ourselves susceptible to obstacles in our paths. It’s the struggle of every smartphone user, and it’s about to get easier.

Apple recently filed a patent for transparent texting technology, according to Metro. This technology will provide “overlay messages on a live video feed from the rear camera,” making it “safer.”

Avid texters and ebook readers can rejoice, as they will no longer walk into people, light poles, doors or sidewalk obstacles.

According to the patent, a user “walking while participating in a text messaging session may inadvertently collide with or stumble over objects in his path … this is because their attention would have been focused on their device’s display instead of the path they were traversing.”

According to The Independent, the text message bubbles will overlay the usual message background, which will be replaced with a live video feed from the iPhone’s rear camera.

Even ebook readers will be pleased, since they will now be able to safely walk down the street while still engaged in their book.

I’m astounded that this technology has become seemingly necessary in the eyes of Apple. Clearly, enough people have walked into trees that it grabbed their attention. I’m unsure about what’s more absurd — the technology or the fact that people are so invested in a text conversation that they can no longer function.

According to PC Magazine, the technology hopes to increase the safety of texting and walking by allowing the user to see the objects in their path.

“Consequently, the device’s user is less likely to collide with or stumble over an object while participating in a text messaging session,” the patent said.

The only way this technology can be used effectively is if the user holds the device straight ahead. Even so, that won’t give full visibility of obstacles.

“If smartphones were to have a transparent display, or a system that offers the illusion of transparency, users would be more aware of their surroundings,” Apple Insider reported.

The only way smartphone users are going to be more aware of their surroundings is if they actually pay attention to their surroundings. This technology maintains society’s dependence on phones.

I don’t think turning on the rear camera is going to help someone see. If a user is invested enough in a conversation, they won’t be paying much attention to the image from the rear camera.

Here’s a suggestion — stop texting and walking. If doing both at once is hazardous, it’s likely not a good idea to encourage it.

I also fear that smartphone users will begin using this technology while driving. In 2012, Forbes Magazine reported that injuries caused by texting and walking “have more than quadrupled in the past seven years.”

This puts walking and texting on par with distracted driving. The difference is that talk-to-text is encouraged while driving rather than transparent texting. Improvements to talk-to-text technology would be more worthwhile.

The effect of this technology is like rewarding a child for misbehaving by making it easier to misbehave rather than reprimanding and discouraging the child from bad decisions.

The only way to ensure total safety is to discourage texting and walking in general. While most people likely won’t comply, I doubt the technology is going to lessen the danger.

It’s unclear whether Apple will implement this technology into its next software update, but there are apps available if you can’t wait to try out a safer texting and walking option.

Better yet, you could pay attention to what’s happening around you, unless you want to embarrass yourself by walking into a tree for a text message.  

Opinion columnist Amber Hewitt is a print journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]

Leave a Comment