On the way to work one fine morning, I stopped at a road accident scene, with some rather traumatic injuries – I thought someone had died, but instead of being dead, that someone spoke to me and asked me to phone a family member, telling me the number. So I thought I would do that. At that point, I whipped out my trusty touch screen phone, and … well it was obscenely difficult:
- Unlock the phone
- Enter the unlock swipe code (a couple of times)
- Choose the dialer (no, not the address book, the dialler … aargh)
- Wait for the dial-a-number application to open (it just sits there and thinks about opening)
- Change the mode of the dial-a-number application to actually dial a number
- Wait for the dial-a-number application to show the keypad
- Type in the number
- Make a typo and press the wrong thing, and suddenly have to start again from way up in the list
- Press the call button (is this thing working??)
- Communicate to the disbelieving family member that I’m a confused person at an accident scene that they want to come to — compared to the trauma of dialing the number, this part was actually easy.
These things are not difficult, but under pressure, it is easy to make mistakes, and mistakes cost time on smart phones. It was surreal – the visibly injured person had a better handle on the situation than the man trying to make a simple phone call.
It wasn’t much better when I dialed 112 (the emergency number) for the ambulance – the phone was just sluggish. Apart from hanging up by mistake in the middle of the call, I was on hold, and needed the phone to take pictures (someone was culpable and needed to be nailed), but I couldn’t because things don’t work like that.
I realised something: in an emergency, I want a phone, not a smartphone. The device is a great GPS navigator, a wonderful game console, and awesome music player, a capable camera and video recorder, a good standby web browser, but for the one thing it occasionally needs to do fast, it is useless.
There’s a Dilbert comic about the superiority of Unix “Here’s a nickel kid get yourself a better computer”. I need buttons, and a straightforward one-function interface.
In unrelated news, I’ve lost it. It’s gone. I think the kids hid it, hoping to play games on it later.