Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My Buddy Junior

I think I may have said it before but just in case I’ll run the risk of repeating myself. I hate my phone. My new phone hasn’t stood a chance with me ever since I saw my first iPhone. I have iPhone envy.

Still, occasionally I have been pleasantly surprised to discover a new feature of the phone. I’m not much for manuals so I normally discover these things entirely by accident. So it was when I discovered I could use voice commands to call the saved numbers on the phone. This is no small deal for me. One of many indignities of getting older is the deteriorating eyesight thing. All my young life I had 20/20 vision. All of my old life I spend looking for reading glasses. Reading the screen on my mobile phone without glasses is a complete exercise in futility. Being able to simply tell the phone what to do is huge. It’s not perfect but it usually works pretty well.

Until yesterday.

I was driving home and I decided to return the call of one of my college buddies, JR. “Call JR,” I told the phone.

“Did you say call Gags?” the mechanical female voice responded.

“No,” I replied.

“Did you say Jim?” it asked this time.

“No,” I replied.

“Did you say Denise,” it asked.

Now I’m thinking it’s really off, “No,” I replied with a slightly agitated tone.

“Please try again.” It gave up after three tries.

“Call JR,” I said as clearly and succinctly as I possibly could this time.

“Did you say call Gags?” it asked and proceeded to repeat the exact same progression of wrong choices.

Then I had my “Aha” moment. “Call junior,” I said.

Bingo. It worked. Houston we have contact.


Freemarket said...

If you are still stuck on Verizon Wireless, you should seriously consider the Droid when it comes out.

Bob O said...

Interesting post. For my opinion of the iPhone see my blog:

I've been pursuing a year-long project involving using only Apple hardware and software, which will come to an end next month, after throwing out 25 or so years of PC/Microsoft HW and SW. Results, shall I say, have been mixed.

I'm also a big user of open-source software, and a philosophical proponent of that approach to computer SW and HW design. So, it's been pretty freaky to dive into the Apple cloud.

Freemarket, as usual, makes a good point. Go for the Droid. Verizon, demonstrably, has the best network. The Motorola Droid runs on a Google tweaked, open-source, version of linux called Android. We've been discussing this at work for days....Droid versus iPhone....

Frankly, I almost bought an Android G-1 a year ago. It came out at the same time I was thinking about buying an iPhone. I played around with both for a few days, and finally went with the iPhone because the AT&T network looked a lot better than what T-Mobile--the only purveyor of the Android--had at the time.

The Droid, on the Verizon NW, overcomes that problem. You get free and opensource software, you get good hardware, and you get, really, the best NW in the country...I'm thinking about letting the iPhone go and picking up a Droid.

Full Disclosure: I had a generic Verizon cell phone for four years before I got the iPhone, and it never failed me, never dropped a call, and I used it all over North America. It was bulletproof. The iPhone has caused me more problems in 11 months than any other phone I've ever had...but most of them are Apple problems, not ATT problems.

Let me know what you think!

Bob O said...

Voice recognition software. I hate it.

I don't hate the idea of it, mind you, I hate the way it works.

My iPhone and my car both are configured to use voice recognition software for voice commands. It never works. For me.

I've been cursed, genetically, with a late-night Grateful Dead/Pink Floyd radio DJ voice.

People tell me my voice is quite sexy...including my wife. Unfortunately, when I speak voice recognition software does not recognize me.

Without going into esoteric technical details, it all has to do with timbre and pitch. Mine are very low and slow.

So, my phone never understands what I'm saying, and my car navigation system always directs me somewhere I don't want to go. My business partner uses my phone or my like a charm.

Most of this software is written for the average voice of the average person. If you're too low or too high, sorry. You're going to call "Grandma Kate" when you wanted "Jim's Fish Bait."

It's a curse.

Chuck said...

Bob O,

Isn't it a little early to compare the iPhone to an unreleased, upcoming phone, based mostly on specs? The tech world is already littered with the corpses of predications about the iPod's demise and the iPhone's inability to sell well.

The Android based phones do look very promising (especially when compared to Windows Mobile variants) and Verizon does need a better smartphone offering, but until the new phones are out, debugged and working, it is only speculation and wishful thinking.

For those who need a reminder, look at the previous recent iPhone Killer, the BB Storm - just replaced by the Storm2...

Bob O said...

Chuck, all good points, although I've never been a BB fan, because that platform is so limited.

I love the iPhone as an ideal...but when the real meets the ideal, it leaves something to be desired. HW and SW problems blemish the experience.

That's all I'm saying.

Frankly, the G1 was pretty good. And, philosophically, I'm an opensource kind of guy. So, if I can get most of the functionality of the iPhone, with a better network, at lower prices, I may take it.

I'd also really like a physical keyboard, which Steve Jobs has a problem with. (Just google Steve and the iPhone keyboard to see him on youtube.)

So, Android and the Droid seem like a reasonable alternative, or a "I don't want to drink the Apple koolaid" alternative. Either way, adapt and be flexible.

Chuck said...

Bob O, I'm with you on adapt and be flexible.

I do not think Apple walks on water (they sometimes float on it), but they do craft a solution that fits cleanly for many, sometimes at the expense of open technology and limited outside integration. Ironically, the iPhone with it's "closed" Apple controlled environment has spawned a robust development effort from third parties and the 70K plus apps for the phone are in opposition to the "Apple has no software" mantra of the past.

I do hope the Google phones are winners as they will keep apple pushing forward and change the carrier picture.

Bob O said...

Chuck, well said.