Sunday, May 01, 2011

Update Your Life

That was the headline of the article: "Update Your Life." The subtitle was: "iPhone 5 Preview." I had that momentary twinge of regret that all consumers do. You know the one. The one that says that your life would be incrementally better if you just had the newest best and did we mention new gadget or gizmo. How much better depends entirely on the gadget you get. For example, my wife just unloaded the automatic juicer that had been sitting on a cart that is loaded with our kitchen appliances. My mind immediately turned to all the fruits and vegetables that I never had a chance to liquefy. After a few seconds, that feeling passed and I was glad that we no longer had to store the big beige box with a plug on it.
The new iPhone? I'll probably be okay without that one too. Not that it would make juice, but it would give me a way to connect to Al Gore's Internet and play Angry Birds while I try and make a call to someone to explain why I am nowhere near a place that might normally support such activity. It reminds me of all those proto-car phone calls I got from my father back in the late eighties: "You'll never guess where I'm calling from!" I tried to play along, but after the first half dozen iterations, I started guessing "your car," and that was that.
The thing is, I don't know if my father's life was better because of this ability to reach out and connect with his son from the front seat of his Ford Explorer. Getting a signal back then was even more of a challenge than it is today with AT&T, so maybe the satisfaction of that struggle was something that he was able to massage into his life. He wasn't able to get 1080p high definition video, on a screen that is more than three and a half inches across. But not much more than three and a half inches. He was lucky to be able to squint and see the tiny slit that showed the number he was calling.
My cell phone isn't much better than his was. Twenty years later, if I push the right buttons, I can make my phone turn into a flashlight. When I hold it up and point it at kids I can pretend to take their picture. And when I turn it on, I can make phone calls with it. Sadly, I never owned a mobile phone while my father was alive. It would have been fun to be able to call him up and play his game, "guess where I'm calling from." That would have been sweet. Maybe the next iPhone will allow me to call the afterlife. I'd pay for that app.

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