Dear Santa Tech,
I won’t humblebrag: I’ve been good this year. Very good. I didn’t click on links in email sent by people I don’t know, I maintained unique passwords for every web service (that I often remembered), and I didn’t consider becoming an Uber executive.
I know my technological goodness must come as a relief to you, having suffered through recent Christmas seasons marred by mass gifts of non-quite-fully-capable Surface RTs, failures of Christmas Eve Netflix viewing, and delays in ecommerce deliveries by non-Santa-operated services.
Yet despite my obvious niceness, this year I won’t ask for all new toys. That would be elfish.
Instead, all I want for Christmas is my 2.0. Not front teeth. Upgrades to products I already own and use. Products that would be just a little better if your workshop’s flux capacitor or warp core or whatever power source the North Pole uses (perhaps, in recent years, it’s turned to hydro) would be tuned just a notch higher.
For my Sonos wireless audio speaker system, I wish for audio input connectors that support higher quality and more options than a 1/8-inch stereo mini-plug. Yes, I know I almost always listen to digital music that comes from my router-connected hard drive or Internet audio streams from Rhapsody, Slacker and TuneIn Radio.
But I still have legacy media in the form of hundreds of CDs and vinyl records. It is a major pain to rip them, if all I want to do is occasionally hear an obscure track from a CD player or digital turntable. Dropping an eye-popping $349 for a Sonos Connect only gives me RCA inputs. A $49 Sonos Bridge or $99 Sonos Boost with a few inputs? Yes, pretty please. I bet owners of some other brands of wireless speakers may have similar connector requests.
For my Fitbit One, I wish for a calibration mode. I’m not sure how you’d do this (right now, all one can “calibrate” is stride length by manual entry on the Fitbit site). But first with my Zip and now with the One, I know the accuracy of measuring actual steps varies. A lot. Fitbit claims 95-97% accuracy, but that means in the course of a single 10,000-step day, I could be off 500 steps if it’s worn in the exact perfect position. Wherever that is. Those missing steps add up. Microsoft Band seems to do better. Can’t Fitbit?
For my Google Nexus 5, I wish for an auto-downloaded, obvious-yet-concise guide to Android’s new features every time a new version is installed. I love Lollipop, but did I really have to discover that it has a cool Flashlight mode under Settings by accident? Or that Gallery was re-named Photos, causing me to ponder what had happened to my pictures as I flipped through six screens of apps?
Amazon did a nice job of notification with the brief cheat sheet that showed up on my Kindle Fire HDX with the latest iteration of Fire OS this month (Amazon also reminded me with an email). While Amazon controls the entire Fire experience, I’ve got to believe your helpers can work this out with T-Mobile (in my case) and include a prominent cheat sheet with any OS update.
Santa, I’ll stop now. There are many more general upgrades you could bring to me and my friends, who know I’m writing you. Lee wants a visible file system for iOS, Brian asks for memory card support for iPads, Margie would like duplicate picture upload warnings for iPhoto, and everyone would cherish the greatest gift of all: longer battery life.
A few, generously, want to give back. Eric and Ellen want to give Samsung and Verizon the apps they can’t delete from their mobile phones. And Aaron would like to re-gift Facebook’s presumably expensive news feed display algorithm changes. I’d contribute by returning Twitter’s, too.
Strangely, during a season in which venture capitalists, tech bloggers and digital pundits all desire the Next Big Thing, my friends and I are satisfied to settle for the Next Small Thing. Small, as in those improvements that make a valued app, website or device even more cherished, and can take it from good to great. Plus make us loyal customers for many holidays to come.
Oh, and Santa? I know it’s old school to actually write you a letter, instead of sending you an email, text, tweet, or listicle. But I thought a Christmas list in 2014 in the letter format familiar for centuries would be so unusual, you might give it special consideration. I would have written it in cursive, too, but I wanted you to be able to read it.
Wishing you and Rudolph a safe and drone-free flight,