Friday, July 11, 2008

Stuff I don't understand: special iPhone edition

We learn this morning that Apple has released a new iPhone model, this version doing more, and costing less, than the one so highly touted, and so eagerly sought after, only last summer.

The people who waited in line then must be so pleased now. (Although, to be fair, Dr. A has a twitter update on his blog this morning advising that his iPhone 1.0 is working just fine. He is putting a brave face on and I, for one, say bravo!)

Yesterday I noticed that, in anticipation of this momentous product unveiling, Google was advising gmail customers that they could Google chat with their contacts right from their iPhone.

I am certain that this must be a stupendous technical achievement. I am particularly certain because (as is often the case) I do not understand a single word of the explanation as to how this modern day miracle may be performed.

But, however grand this code-writing accomplishment may be, isn't the iPhone a phone?

Couldn't one actually dial the number of the person with whom one wishes to chat -- and thereby avoid the dangers of permanent damage to the tendons of one's thumb?

Of course, I suppose the Apple devotees will assert that Google chat is easier, faster, better than mere text messaging.

But texting is another thing I do not understand.

I have learned how to do this, of course, since the kids seem to insist on texting me from time to time. But capitalization and punctuation take so long to input into a text message that I believe I could write out the message, capture and train a carrier pigeon, and dispatch it to the sender of the text message faster than I could accomplish a proper reply.

Apparently the primary benefit of texting is that one can surreptitiously send and receive messages at times when talking on the phone might be forbidden. As in the time I caught Younger Daughter texting at Mass. "But Dad," she protested, when I chastised her on the way home, "it was after Communion, during the announcements."

This morning we were waiting to find if Youngest Son's baseball games would be played today despite the torrential rains in the Chicago area overnight. The coach called Youngest Son directly with news of the cancellation, while Youngest Son was in his Driver's Ed class.

Youngest Son considered this a serious breach of etiquette: The coach should have texted.

Long Suffering Spouse and I were upset that Youngest Son's phone was on during class. "Isn't that why you have voice mail?" I asked. But I received only a pitying look in response: People of a certain age, it seems, can not imagine being out of touch for even the 90 minutes of a class.

"Didn't you get in trouble for talking on your phone in class?" asked Long Suffering Spouse.

"I have skills," bragged Youngest Son in reply and he pantomimed for us how he bent over and cupped the phone in his hand while making it appear that he was trying to pick up a notebook he had conveniently allowed to fall to the floor. And he said he will give the coach what-for when next he sees him, too.

Or maybe he'll send a text message instead?


Jean-Luc Picard said...

That's an old trick...bring out a better one just as everyone has bought the one they wanted.

purplepassion said...

I heard a new report on NPR this morning that was talking to people in China who are texting fiends. Everyone has a phone but they don't call they text. The reasons I remember were these: 1)You can't always take a call but you can usually look at a text refer to your kids examples). 2) The government couldn't intercept the text messages but they could intercept and record phone calls. Makes you go Hmmmm. They gave examples of how texting was being used to coordinate protests and the govt couldn't go after the initiators becaause they didn't know who they were.
So, if you are concerned about Big Brother listening, send a text.

sari said...

My dad texts but I don't, which he can't understand (and I think is funny).

Lahdeedah said...

I can text!
I can even call people on the phone!

What I can't do, is figure out how to change my ring tones, why I need the web browser on my phone to function, and how to answer call waiting when the touch screen is up.

Oh sure, I could read the manual... but it's very very thick...

Ralph said...

The kids do all the time, but i do not feel like texting. To much non pertinent or unimportant things are being written for no particular reason.

And with the I-Phone, I do not trust devices that are multi-tasking. A phone should be a phone, a camera a camera. My phone is for emergencies, not picture taking, My camera is for that. Maybe I'm just getting old...

Dave said...

According to adult (!) friends who send me a text message rather than calling, texting is the new equivalent to calling and leaving a voicemail at a time the person is not there, as you don't really want to talk to them.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

i have been trying to buy an iphone 3g but in podunk you can't. and i don't want to go to atlanta. oh well, i'll keep using my razr...

smiles, bee

Anonymous said...

"I am a dinosaur. I'm an Ozzie and Harriet person living in an Ozzy and Sharon world."...very funny!!!
I feel that way too sometimes. I guess we baby boomers just have to try and keep up the best we can. Thanks for the laugh.

Anonymous said...

How about people who use the chat to chat with their friends overseas on daily basis? An international call costs $2.29 a min and you can't send text message to all countries.

The Curmudgeon said...

Purplepassion wrote, "The [Chinese] government couldn't intercept the text messages but they could intercept and record phone calls."

This is certainly interesting, if true. Seems counterintuitive though: Texting is writing -- why wouldn't it be easier to intercept? And although I know you can delete text messages from your phone, people don't always -- and even if they did, couldn't the messages be recovered anyway, just as "deleted" emails or other files may be recovered?

Dave, you make an interesting point. I have to think about this one....

Anon 7/14 7:50 pm -- Thanks.

Anon 7/16 7:42 am -- This is another interesting point. I assume your overseas correspondent can have purely local service -- not international -- but this works because s/he's interacting with Google via a local internet provider? I wonder, though, is this a large group of people? Could national security considerations be involved in circumventing long distance providers in this way? Not that al Qaeda needs to save money, necessarily, but would this traffic avoid surveillance? Or is this exactly the kind of traffic most likely to be monitored?

Anonymous said...

I've found that when my phone doesn't have enough of a signal to sustain a phone call, it usually does have enough to send and receive quick texts. Just thought I'd throw that out, since it can actually come in handy!