Uncovering hidden features

  • Schick Hydro 5 with upper guard locked in position...
  • ... and click open for a closer shave.
Date:24 April 2013 Author: Anthony Doman

While idly wondering one morning if my overnight growth of stubble would prefer a last meal of foam or gel, and if it really mattered anyway, my eye fell on a little pamphlet I’d saved from the packaging of my new razor. In that moment, I discovered something to my possibly lasting benefit. It may not have been a revelation or an epiphany – now there‘s an overworked word – but, you know what? For the cost of a few seconds, I got a closer shave.

My point is not the discovery of a little flip-top thingy on my Schick Hydro 5 that expose the blades so you can steer closer to¬† your sensitive bits. And it’s not that this feature makes it the best shave in creation. For the record, the Gillette Fusion’s powered vibrating hybrid razor/shaver gets my vote, by (of course) a whisker. (Just so you know it, menshair.about agrees. And I had no idea testing a razor could be quite so involved.)

But I digress. The point is, how many of us bother to read the manual’s finer points before we start using a tool or gadget? I’m guessing not a lot.

To underline my point: last week at a gathering of tech writers, one noticed we had the same phone (Samsung Galaxy S3) and although singing its praises, mentioned a couple of regrettable shortcomings – one being the lack of a Task Manager kind of setup for flipping between running apps. That’s not right, I responded: here, all you need to do is this, click that, and wait, there’s more – just by clicking here you can do a whole bunch of other stuff, including multiple windows.

Now, if an acknowledged tech-y person can’t get up to speed with a device, how do we expect non-techy people to manage? The thing is, manufacturers have a sneaky tendency to make things not entirely obvious. That’s why you’ll find any number of articles along the lines of The 15 Hidden Features Of The XXX gizmo. But why should they be hidden anyway? Or are they staring us in the face all along, except that we just can’t be bothered to read the flipping manual?. Er… although, in the case of the Samsung, presumably in the interests of saving the planet it doesn’t actually ship with a manual – you need to go online to get that.

The solution to this situation is two-part. First, get manufacturers to make it clear just what is so special about their latest technology, and how to use it. We don’t need mystery, but mastery. Second, and I include myself in this part, spend the time to find out how it works. At the very least, you’ll get a closer shave.