Saturday, 4 August 2018

Smartening Up

I love my smartphone - (or smart telephone as I inwardly call it, having been taught as a child that one should not abbreviate words*).

I can read the newspaper on it - in fact, I can read several newspapers, plus numerous different magazines on it. I can listen to the radio or watch television or movies. I can read books. I can find my way around#. I can take pictures of everything I see - and also record my entire life with the video recorder provided. I can hold the gadget’s screen up to street signs in countries where I don’t speak the language and get immediate if slightly peculiar translations of what they are intended to mean. I can check my bank balance. I can pay my bills. I can find my keys, as they have a tag tied to them that my telephone can search for.

And yet I am not convinced that the people who make my telephone have really made significant progress. This is because the one thing my telephone is not very good at is the thing that was its original purpose - telephone calls to people in other places. While there is rarely any problem connecting, I find that fifty per cent of the time now during any telephone conversation I can’t hear the person at the other end clearly and the other fifty per cent of the time they cannot hear me.

I suppose it doesn’t matter - you can always text each other. But can this so-called “smartphone” really be categorised as a telephone at all?  Might my disappointment about attempts at long distance conversations have been avoided if the gadget’s name were altered? What about “pocket information box?”? Or “time gulper”? Or “the best toy the world has ever seen”?

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*why not? Because: the perennial answer to most such questions in my youth.

#and using satnav is not, as some claim, going to rob me of any of my limited brainpower by rendering my finding-my-way-faculty useless from lack of practice, because mine was useless from the get-go

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