Tuesday, June 10, 2008

If I'd been born fifty years before

As most of the even passingly tech aware world knows, this week marked the announcement of the new and improved iPhone 2.0. What happened at the conference, then, was much touting of the iPhone's new features, new applications, and new price (only $199 so now, says Jobs confidently, it can be afforded by "everyone!" Umm, yeah, not so much but whatever, you multimillionaire, you.). Part of the presentation involved various developers coming on stage and telling what new and exciting applications they had created (in record time and with incredible ease, they all hastened to say, because they know who butters their bread...and sells it to millions) for the new iPhone. And I just couldn't believe that the developers of such delights as Sega's Monkeyball, a Cromag racing game, and Krull, a fantasy action adventure game could take themselves seriously. You're actually going to go on and on about the fact that you were able to get all four classic monkeys, use your phone as a steering wheel, and battle the incredibly detailed demons? For me, it was laughable. For them, stultifyingly and absurdly serious. I did like one of the frivolous apps, Band, which lets you play and record on a two octave piano, a drum kit, a bass guitar, and a "blues instrument," which is a series of chords and slides on which you can play any blues song. But, as one of the Mac guys noted offhandedly, "and office productivity plummets." No kidding, dude! All play and no work iPhone.

There were, of course, some useful applications beyond gaming announced, such as an MLB application that lets you see real-time video highlights and scores from every MLB game (something I know some of my tiny band of loyal readers will absolutely love) or a medical application that lets you see detailed anatomical slides and or read CAT scans on your phone or an Associated Press app that lets you get local news stories from "trusted" sources based on your geographical position. But don't get me started about the geographical positioning capability, that can tell you and anyone else where you are at any given moment. I swear I heard George Orwell turning over in his grave! The phone also comes equipped with GPS, which, based on my personal experience, will only result in more people saying "well, my GPS says it's right here" when they are standing immobile in the middle of a cornfield and not, for instance, anywhere near their or any other actual destination.

The husband listens to my scoffing and accuses me of hating the future, but I don't think that's quite accurate. I guess I just want my devices simplified instead of complexified (not a word, move along, nothing to see here), and I want my phone to, you know, call people. And maybe check my email. Okay, I do like that the phone can access Microsoft Word, which would be incredibly useful to me while I was teaching and changing assignments or creating handouts on the fly. And browsing the web is a fun way to while away wait time at the doctor's office, for instance. But now, I'm almost done teaching for a while, and my wait times are either eliminated or spent corralling Jacob. So what I want to do is have a phone. And I don't care how pretty it is!

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