Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Untitled Post About iPhones

After fifteen months as a reluctant member of Android Nation, I finally made the switch to iPhone this past weekend with my family. While I'm glad to finally have the phone that, like, everyone in the world has, Mom, and my sister is glad to be rid of the archaic Samsung that's been holding her in indentured servitude for three years, the Great Switch has left me with a few questions. I love my new iPhone - with the world of emoji reading and sending that it has opened to me and its promise of easy Snapchat screenshotting for whenever one of you sends me something worth saving - but when I gaze upon my charging phone and miss the soothing red charge light of my Galaxy, these are the things that keep me awake at night.

Does this phone brand me as "loser" to 20-something, low-income tech nerds? 
As I stood waiting for my parents' contacts to finish transferring, a gentleman bedecked in Tall Tee and Etnies sneakers like those that your seventh grade class' resident skaters wore asked me what kind of phone mine was. I answered "five," and, registering his confusion, amended my answer to, "iPhone 5." Surprised, the man said, "Aren't you a little young for that?" Assuming he was referring to the idea that fancy phones aren't for kids, I responded, with the real comeback of the century, "Uhh, I'm twenty-one." (Insert facepalm here.) At this point, seeing that I had misinterpreted his question, he explained, "No, no, I mean, iPhones are for old people!" ...But like are they though? Thinking over my vast network of iPhone-equipped friends and weighing whether that many twenty-first birthday parties could really have been retirement celebrations in disguise, I decided this man must have been crazy. His words resounded in my head all day, though, so I eventually caved and did a Google search for "iPhone old people???". To my surprise, I did find other evidence of this mantra...and other evidence that it's crazy. "iPhones are for old people" is, in fact, a fairly commonly held belief of the young and tech-enthused. "For people with disposable income, and more stuff to do than sit around customizing their Androids!" Sorry, Etnies man, but I don't think I'm going to trade in my "young and hip" card any time soon.

Is the government spying on me through this phone? 
Yesterday, I used the maps feature on my iPhone for the first time. I'll admit, it was pretty cool on some level to watch the route on the map adapt to my location as my mom's minivan tooled down the highway - but it was also creepy. The navigation features on my Droid never even remotely functioned, so going from 0 to 60 on accurate global satellite mapping this quickly is a bit disconcerting. Watching that little blue dot pulse its way across the map like Gatsby's green light, I couldn't help but wonder, "Am I being surveilled right now?" Answer still pending on this one. I'll keep you posted.

Why are emojis their own separate keyboard?
This one is, like, an actual technical question about this phone. Why are emojis an extra keyboard? To use emojis, for those of you who don't know, you have to scroll through the foreign language keyboard list and pick out the one wedged between "Dutch" and "Estonian." Emojis are not a language, Apple. Stop trying to convince the people of America that they are bilingual. They are not.

Does Siri hate me? 
If you ask me, I have been a pretty benevolent master to the unpaid virtual servant that is Siri. I haven't asked her anything funny disturbing like "What's a good place to hide a body?". I haven't forced her to tell me jokes or keep me entertained. The first thing I even used her for was to tell her she was cool, and she responded by deflecting compliment after compliment like the shy girl at prom. Really, I haven't asked her much at all. I don't necessarily find it convenient to speak my queries aloud into my phone speaker like some kind of idiot. Typing my questions into a Google search is fine with me. But when I do ask Siri questions, she insists on messing with me. If I mumble a bit or cough mid-question, she inserts whole extra phrases into my questions. Just the other day, she turned "what is the current humidity in Honolulu" (don't ask) into "Howell Howell in humidity Honolulu." She had gotten through "what is the current temperature in New Orleans" with flying colors only moments before, even deigning to add the state as if I didn't know it and to correct my pronunciation of "Orleans." Yet the second I struggle a bit with voicing my question, she turns it into a ridiculous mockery.

Yesterday, the Siri struggle returned when I asked her, "How big is Noblesville, Indiana?" She sat there thinking for a moment, then spat back at me the physical size specifications for Noblesville and the surrounding area in square feet, square meters, square miles, and square toadstools, before beeping again like she knew I was going to rebut with a more specific version of my question. "Fine, Siri," I said, "What is the population of Noblesville, Indiana?" She answered me promptly and went on to provide the populations for Fishers, the Indy metro area, and, inexplicably, Chicago, and we all moved on with our lives. But come on, Siri. In all of your artificial intelligence training, you never learned that "how big" a city is generally refers to its population size? I don't think so. I think Siri knew exactly what I meant, and that she simply wanted to call me out on my vague question. You can sass me all you want, Siri, but at least I know that there should be a comma between a city and its state. Take that, Siri. Take that.

In all, Team iPhone is a pretty good place to be. It's infinitely easier to use than my Droid, it's about half as big and a third as brick-ish, and it has finally brought my sister into the simpler world of selfies with a front-facing camera. My parents clearly enjoy the bells and whistles, as I just heard my mother telling Siri to "call Laura" as she walked through the house. It's granted me instant access, through the still somewhat confusing iMessage, to the knowledge of exactly which of my friends are and are not cool enough for iPhones. These questions do linger, though, and I'm sure others will arise as I continue to get to know my new phone.

Until they do, you can find me giddily experimenting with Instagram video and deciding whether it's appropriate to use my favorite emoji - the cat with hearts for eyes - in casual iMessage chats with guys.


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