Apps Make Mobile Devices Truly Smart Phones
I bought my first mobile phone a little over 11 years ago. It was a grey Nokia 3210 with a little green screen and 40 ringtones to choose from. For a long time I refused to get one because I was annoyed with the concept that I should be reached at all times. Sure, there were moments when I thought it could have been useful, but it was not worth the air of pretentiousness I felt it carried with it. Eventually I bought one to please my mother, who wanted to “just be able to check in from time to time… It’s not like I’m going to call you all the time.”
Being the geeky control freak that I am I dove head first into the endless menus available, checking the default settings, changing them to personalize the device, so it would feel like a better representation of me. It was the technical equivalent of sewing band patches onto my school bag. With every new device I got the configuration options increased, but to some extent I lost interest. I just knew what I liked and I went straight for those menus. Getting my first smartphone was a big change for me – now I could customize the content and not just the appearance.
To call this device a mobile phone is a very big understatement; phone calls are the least important thing I do with it. I read and send emails from it, I take notes, I follow my favorite band and football team, I go through my RSS feed, I see what my friends are up to on Facebook, I update my Tumblr and Instagram blogs, I look for hotels on Kayak or TripAdvisor, and then update my travel itineraries in TripIt. I even have a mirror app for those post-lunch moments when it’s not clear whether having a salad with so much parsley was a good idea. I download recommended apps all the time, whether they were recommended by a friend, a website or the app store editor – if it’s any good it stays on.
Louie Mantia said “A phone, an iPod, an internet communications device. We cheered at the first two, but we use our iPhones for the third part most.” For me that’s absolutely true. I talk on the phone (yes, mom still checks in) and I listen to music on my way to work, but it’s only once I’ve started using apps that this device became such an important tool that I really can’t imagine life without it. Now all the information I need and want is truly at my fingertips and I no longer take mental notes of things I should do later — I can just do them. And for an information-obsessed, procrastination-hater, technophile like myself this has opened up a whole new world of possibilities.