There seems to be enough of these little program guys, otherwise known as apps (short for applications), to supply the “needs” of people who have cell phones, tablets and desktop computers. Any statistics that appear in this column are obsolete before the ink or pixels dry (OK, pixels don’t dry to my knowledge – maybe they might fade over a few thousand years?).
This next paragraph will give you the tiny Reader’s Digest form of the history of cell phones. My first phone was a Motorola bag phone, followed by a long series of what we generally call “cell” phones. These phones have been followed by smart phones. Cell phones usually have keypads upon which one can type the number being called. Smart phones usually have virtual keyboards, or they will just listen to you make requests such as “call mom” or “call Aunty Em” or “how many miles to the moon” (where you may suspect Aunty Em has fled to).
This column is a kind of oppositional, curmudgeonly and whiny complaint about being forced to do things I don’t want to do. I really didn’t mind changing my bag phone for a much smaller and portable cell phone. I have about 20 or so discarded phones gathering dust in a variety of places. They seem to break down, stop working, or in other ways refuse to make calls anymore. Then I have to get another one. The last was called a “military” grade flip-phone. Mine is still working just fine after several years of less than careful use; however, I just looked it up, and according to the provider’s website, it is “no longer available for purchase.” To this I say, “Bah, humbug.”
Thus, I may be forced to buy a “military grade” smart phone. I have resisted buying a smart phone for several reasons. I could own a smart phone, but I am fond of saying, “It will own me.” I am eternally curious about practically everything (my 15 years of columns bear witness to this) and would thus be constantly consulting the computer (also known as the phone). If you doubt their seductive power, just look around most any restaurant you might choose, and see how many people have phone in hand and are staring down at it. There is even a less than cute name for what happens to folks who look down at their phones too much. It is called “text neck,” which is a syndrome manifesting in pain, soreness, headache, shoulder pain and, finally, your head falls off. Well I don’t want to be around if that should happen.
Another point of resistance is called the price point. The least expensive, or cheapest in my terms, is around $200. The prices keep escalating to about $5,000 or in my terms, “you’ve got to be kidding.” I left off the Vertu Signature Touch luxury smartphone, which is priced at over $9,000 which caused my wife to say, “It must be packed with some great illegal medicinals.”
The other thing that I can see coming on the horizon is that there will be a continued effort to get me to buy one of these mini pocket computers, with phone app, in order to conduct business in the modern world. There these QR codes to point one’s phone at. Here comes a TMI section: QR stands for Quick Response, which is a trademark for a matrix barcode, first designed for the automotive industry in Japan. At this point I hope Wikipedia knows of what it speaks.
It is possible to have apps for just about anything you want to do. That’s actually why I first titled this column, “Apps, apps, who’s got an app?” but my esteemed editor often does a much better job of giving my columns more creative and entertaining titles.
Here are some apps that are available from app stores such as Google Play, Apple Apps and Amazon App Store: Waze (getting up-to-the-minute best traffic routes – hard to imagine using in most Mother Lode towns); Pocket (for saving interesting articles, pictures, etc., for viewing later); IFTTT (if this then that – and I haven’t a clue); Anchor (easy way to build your own podcast); and finally, Feedly (which helps you keep track of your favorite news sources – hope you can include the Enterprise).
Why do I care about this avalanche of apps? Because I like my world to be a little simpler and avoid unnecessary complications. So, I will resist the siren call of super smart phones and just let my wife take care of all this stuff on her two iPads. I gave her mine because I am just as happy with my old laptop and my sturdy flip phone. Here’s wishing all of you a most happy new year in the world of smart phones and apps. And I hope the term text neck is not in your future.
Kevin Wychopen is a semi-retired school counselor and weekly columnist for the Enterprise. Contact him at email@example.com.