Last week something really exciting happened to me. At least I think it did. I finally got my very first smartphone, and I am pretty sure it’s a lot smarter than I am.
My daughter has been after me for quite some time now to get a smartphone. She likes to send me links to websites, music and photos of her son via Instagram, and with my “dumb” phone, I could never see or access them. It doesn’t make any difference than I had the smartest “dumb” phone there was, it still wouldn’t let me do it.
I’m very cheap when it comes to this sort of thing, so I am reluctant to get the latest and greatest of anything. My daughter, on the other hand, needs the newest, fastest, coolest thing out there, as soon as it’s available.
I guess it’s different when your eyesight is still pretty good, and you can see very small screens jammed with information in perfect clarity. I lost that ability more than ten years ago, which was frustrating, since I have been nearsighted most of my life. The thing is, with contact lenses, I can no longer read the fine print without using reading glasses. Without my contacts I can read very small print just fine, but then everything beyond that is a blur, and I basically need a guide dog simply to get across the room without hitting anything.
So, the advent of smartphones was not a big deal to me. I got along just fine, especially since I just wanted my phone to, well… be a phone. I didn’t need every single acquaintance’s contact information downloaded onto it from Facebook, and I didn’t need to have the Internet literally at my fingertips.
I didn’t want to read a book on my phone, or shop for apps. I don’t want to be a slave to anything with a screen or a monitor. I think it’s a really good thing to be completely unreachable at times, if nothing else, for your own sanity.
But one day the people at the phone store (who know my daughter very well – go figure) suggested that I use one of her throw-away smartphones instead of buying a new one, or waiting for my contract to be up. So I talked to her, and we made a deal. I was mildly excited but not exactly, because now I was going to have to adjust to learning how to use the new phone.
Anyone who’s ever had to do this knows what I mean. You get very used to how the old system works, and where all the buttons are, and when you get a new one, you feel like you have 11 fingers and three of them don’t work. When the sales rep showed me how to use the new phone, she was very sweet about it. She showed me basically four things – how to turn it on, how to lock the screen, how to navigate to the most common functions, and one very important button… the “back” button. She knew that I was going to be somewhat frustrated with the phone and pointed that out so that if I got “stuck,” I wouldn’t start turning the air blue with verbalizations. Smart girl!
So I walked out the door feeling good about finally getting around to that little errand, got in my car and attempted to make my first call. During the transfer process, that contact had somehow been deleted, and I had no other reference for the number. What a strange feeling that was! I was at a loss for a few moments, since the number would not be in the phone book (phone book – what’s that?). Luckily there was still a land line to call, and the person was home.
There were a few more adjustments over the next few days. Getting used to listening for a new ring tone and text tones, learning how to answer without hanging up on the caller, and learning what all those little icons were trying to tell me.
I have owned a tablet now for a few months, and my daughter would tease me that “It’s just a big phone, Mom.” so I was a bit more familiar with the environment than I would have been otherwise. Still, that “back” button has been my best friend every day since I started using the phone.
One of the hardest adjustments has been using the new keypad. The digital one on the front screen is a bit to small to see and use with any accuracy, so I have been using the qwerty keyboard that’s available when the phone is flipped open. There’s something very satisfying about feeling those little plastic keys clicking down with each letter. I like that a lot.
The biggest problem is the “send” button for texts is right where the “delete” button was on my old phone. So I have sent a lot of strange and unfinished texts in the last week, and a lot that are followed with, “Oops! New phone.” People have been very understanding.
The other frustrating thing is about the keyboard is the “back” button is right where my caps key was on my old phone. So I can be in the middle of texting a thought and suddenly find myself in a whole other area or app on the phone. Fortunately the unfinished text message is patiently waiting for me when I navigate my way back to it.
One of the very best things about this new phone though, has become my most favorite. I can simply speak into the phone, and it translates my voice into text. I have wanted this function in a phone since cellphones were invented! And now I can do it, and I do it as often as I can. It saves so much time and bother, it’s well worth putting up with all the other frustrations.
I am still figuring out a lot about the phone, but it seems endless. Each screen has an additional menu of functions, and there are so many screens and apps, it’s mind-boggling. I’m pretty sure this phone can balance my checkbook, and do my laundry. I just have to figure out where that menu is.
Each night before bed, I sit and review the instruction booklet for a few minutes, learning a new trick or two. My daughter is so very proud of me. It’s going to take awhile, but I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.