August 17, 2012

Why I don't own a smartphone

All the cool kids have iPhones.  Obviously, I need an iPhone.  Except, wait...Steve Wozniak says Android is better.

Oh.

So obviously, I need an Android phone.  Maybe this one?  Ha!  Sucker!  That runs Gingerbread.  It won't run the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich.  You have to have Ice Cream Sandwich!  Without Ice Cream Sandwich you might as well buy one of these, or a brick with the word "Android" written on it in crayon.  You tool, what were you thinking?

So, I go to the Verizon store (I'll actually be making phone calls, so I really need Verizon).  They have 74 phones.  Of those, three run Ice Cream Sandwich.  So, I'm all ready to buy me an Ice Cream Sandwich phone when a voice inside my head says...are you sure Ice Cream Sandwich is the latest version of Android?  Is that your final answer?

So I take out the Blackberry my company makes me carry, and "surf the web" using its "browser" to "Google" the phrase "latest Android version."  Which, it turns out, is not Ice Cream Sandwich.

It is Jelly Bean.  And, as this video proves beyond any doubt, you would have to have a heart of stone and a mind of mush to buy any Android phone that does not run Jelly Bean.  It is superior.  It is as fast and beautiful as science can make it.  Sure, you could buy an Ice Cream Sandwich phone, if you were a blind cretin.  But we are better than that, we are not the kind of people who buy shabby, outdated phones with inferior technology.

But...  There's always a but, isn't there?

Is the new Project Butter Jelly Bean phone really better than an iPhone?  Really better?  Let's ask someone who has an iPhone:
The entire conceit of Jelly Bean is a phone that's better without you messing with it. And this is dead on, aligned with an iPhone. A phone should be beautiful when you turn it on for the first time. A phone shouldn't just be intuitive on its own, it should have intuition of its own—it should know what's best and right for you without you having to decide. This is antithetical to the DIY/hacker/dimly-lit workbench mentality Android has used to attract tech's most virulent nerds, who think the solution to bad software is using more software. Jelly Bean steers toward an awkward and tenuous inbetween, and if Google's going to slowly shift toward a Phone-Knows-Best attitude, I'll continue to reside in the iPhone's perfect, topiary-filled dictatorship. Because my phone should know best. It should be a tool that makes me smarter than I could ever be on my own, not some pixel erector set. Apple demands this, Google laments it. 
And that's just not enough to jump ship if you've been spoiled by Apple. Jelly Bean applied a powder coat of loveliness, overdue speed, and helpful tech mothering to the user experience, but doesn't change it fundamentally. The sprawl of unruly widgets, of over-information, of inexplicably absent features—that's all there. It just looks nice and moves better.
Now I'm very confused.  But, luckily for me, I have years of experience in consumer electronics purchasing, and even more important, I have known the Laird for 45 years or so and have internalized many of his Grandmaster Electronics Purchasing Principles.  What Would The Laird Do?

I hear his voice in the remoter reaches of my middle temporal cortices, and it is saying "what are your objectives?  At what must this device excel?  What is your objective function?  Frame your specifications precisely!"

And as I work through this exercise, I realize that maybe I don't need a phone at all.  I already have a phone, I use it to make calls.  It does this well.  So why am I trying to replace it?  Maybe I should keep my phone and get another device to do all those other things!  Yeah, that's the ticket...

2 Comments:

Blogger Viceroy De Los Osos said...

I don't own one either. I think they are a crucial component of human de-evolution, and besides, anybody knows that jellybeans are a lousy dessert while ice cream sandwiches rock.

Actually it is simpler than that. I refuse to pay for a data plan. Of course eventually, they'll likely make me pay for one anyway. Why wouldn't they.

August 18, 2012 at 2:35 PM  
Blogger The Other Front said...

It's creepy:

"It's not normal to not want a data plan. Everyone has a a data plan. Why don't you have a data plan?"

August 18, 2012 at 5:14 PM  

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