Wednesday, May 11, 2011

can i have a [less]smart phone please?

a few months ago, i experienced my first thrill of a phone app!

while i have a lot of interest in new technology, and like to explore new applications that i can put technology to use – i have resisted a few things, such as email on the phone – or even the smart phones.. for fear that my life would be controlled more by these multi functional devices, rather than my spontaneous will..

it was an activity tracker – on my non-smart nokia phone, that i was using to track my daily morning walk. looking at the statistics, walk route etc and comparing my performance across days was some trivial thrill.

i was very excited when i got my first ‘smart’ phone.. that too on windows phone 7 operating system.

when everyone i knew had an iPhone, Blackberry, Android or a Nokia, i felt unique that i had a phone with an OS that has not yet been ‘officially’ launched in India.

what it meant was that i only had the web for help!

the first impression was good – in terms of how it powered up, got the initial settings and the basic phone was functional in minutes.

then, the ‘smartness’ took over! and i was totally lost.

it appeared as if i did not matter to the phone that had its own mind!

starting with the Wi-Fi settings – while it detected the network at home, it would not let me adjust any settings manually! that was a shame, because i have a non-standard setup at home, that requires a manual configuration of Wi-Fi settings. think of it as an additional layer of security..

the process of transferring my contacts from the old phone was also not easy. thanks to the web, found a few utilities that would : export my old contacts list, then convert them into a merged .csv file and then import it into my Gmail account and … and … and …

finally the contacts were set up.

i realized that – just like in the real world, we accumulate so much junk over time. i could see some very old phone numbers, addresses etc. and contacts that i have not been in touch with for ages..

thank you smart phone, for reminding me – but, no thanks – as you threaten to remove the contact details from the mail system also, if i want to delete them only from my phone.. they need to be in sync, you said!

then came the next challenge – of downloading any of my music collection. or games [free ones, of course!] and some other ‘enhancements’ that i saw ads of on various sites..

the designers assume that there should be only one way to do things [possibly to avoid calls to the help desk] and by not giving the users any choice, they can make it efficient..

thanks to the friends on the web again, i learnt how to do some of these.

all this, at a cost of a few days and many hours of time.. and i am probably about 30% set up on the phone.

i am yet to figure out how to set my favourite tune for the alarm, or to pick up or reject a call without the vertical swipe etc.

as i get used to it more, i am sure to find more situations when the phone makes me feel dumb!

not sure if i would like it.. maybe a dumb smart phone is what i need… a phone where i can see all the settings and decide what to use when and for the 10-15% of the functionality that i would use most frequently, have some defaults and shortcuts

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