Friday, October 11, 2013

A troglodyte gets a Smartphone

I don't understand you people.  You stand there all day long scratching on your little 4 inch screens and think you're getting something done.  I just don't see the attraction.

Everything  evolves and I suppose I have to as well.  I work in technology and the way I used to do things just isn't possible anymore.  I've resisted the onslaught of the mobile revolution and for the most part I've found my convictions justified.  In short, mobile devices are about as intuitive as disarming a bomb.  One false move and everything blows up.

Here's an example of one such "intuitive" user interface.  On my phone if you dial a call and it connects the screen turns off.  This prevents the inadvertent "Butt dial" that could be caused if your face made contact with the screen during your conversation  That's fine except for those times when you really need that keypad  to be there.  Say, when you're deep into your voicemail setup or stuck in your bank's 34 levels of menu options where you just  must "press the # key." 

You have to press the power button and then fight the phone as it keeps trying to shut off the screen.  Does great things for my productivity.  Don't even get me started on the weird alien symbols that are  about as intuitive as a European road sign.

There's so much pain involved but I must persevere.  I knew this was coming and even borrowed a friend's deactivated Droid Bionic to get used to the way the interface works.  Unfortunately, the time spent didn't do much to prepare me for what was to follow. 

As i slowly navigated through my "pop" culture shock, questions swarmed my tiny Paleolithic brain...

 Where the hell are my apps?     What's the difference between an App and a Widget?   Is my phone really using Wi-Fi or am I going to get a $500 bill for data overages?  Why do I have to sign up for Gmail just to get an app to tell me if I'm going to get that $500 bill?        I agreed to what?           Why did my phone shut itself off?           Why do they call it a "Play" store if I'm not having any fun?


There was one point where I became so frustrated that I had to put the phone back in its little white box.  Otherwise it was going to end up in pieces on the floor after a sudden violent impact with a nearby wall.
I have a low tolerance for BS...

Now this isn't the first time I've been "Forced" to deal with a Smartphone.  I've had to work with every generation of Iphone and a few Android phones but never had to live with one or more to the point, pay for the consequences. 

None of them have ever proved to be as intuitive as the commercials make them out to be.  Is Apple easier to figure out than Android? Sure but that's not saying much.   That's like deciding whether to be burned at the stake or drowned. 

Maybe I'll get used to it but I've already figured out how to turn off the 4G radio for Internet functionality and removed a blinding array of apps whose only purpose appears to be to provide me that $500 data charge.  And no, I didn't customize my ringtone...

As for you mobile media mavens...

If you believe that you can have a full, rich visual experience with that tiny spec of screen real estate on your Smartphone you are undeniably insane. Sorry to break it to you but someone had to tell you before you started having conversations with the voices in your head.

Even with the supposedly "generous" 4.3 inch screen on my phone, reading web pages is painful, Watching videos is quite simply a disappointment.  Navigation is a joy (not) with my ample digits (fingers) and often an exercise in frustration.  Yes I know about gestures and pinches and all they do is make everything worse. 

Voice control  is just a band-aid.  Well, aside from the amusement  found in how badly it mangles the English language. Try saying your email address to Google Voice and see what you get, hilarious.

Well, at least I didn't pay much for this technological abomination.  I have a refurbished HTC EVO 4G from Ting that cost me just over $100 and all I want to do with it is make calls and occasionally use it as a hotspot when I'm on a client site with no Internet access.  That's it. 

I could care less about videos, apps, email or anything else.  I don't even browse the Internet on the phone because it's pointless for reasons I've already mentioned.  Even installing  apps, the core activity of any self-respecting phone geek,  is a chore.  Forget that tiny screen,  I just go to the Google Play store and set up the whole process from there.   At least that option is intuitive.  Too bad I had to go to a website on my PC to enjoy it.

On-screen keyboards?  Predictive or not they still, in a word..."suck."  Sorry folks,  I'm a touch typist so this whole culture of hunt and peck makes me wretch.    Let's not forget that I have fingers the size of hot dogs.

I was trained to control text without having to look at my fingers especially considering their unattractive aesthetics.

In short, I'll grudgingly use this thing the way I need to use it but it might as well be a Wi-Fi dongle with a keypad.   I'm amazed how gullible and accepting consumers are.  Confusing user interfaces, Horrible control surfaces and design about as intuitive as Rorschach test.

The marketing departments have won the war.  They've convinced consumers that counterintuitive is the new ergonomics.   

In short they're selling BS and like I said, I have a low tolerance for it.  That tech pundits call these devices "computers" is laughable.  A Smartphone isn't a computer, it's a device.  Using a Smartphone like a computer is like having to drive a car using two steering wheels and four brake pedals. 

Oh well, I have to go make sure my updates are using Wi-FI instead of 4G now....