Phone Transition

In an earlier comment, Valarie had asked me to keep everyone up to date on my phone transition. So, here goes. A lot of the things I write about here, and in the future, will cause most smart phone users to shrug their shoulders, I’m sure. But I’m new to smart phones, and Valarie is on the fence about getting one, so this is all still exciting to me, and maybe useful to her.

Last Friday, I gave my new smart phone its first practical use. I decided to take the 47 home. While waiting at the bus stop at 4th and Pike, I used the OneBusAway app to check arrival times. This is something I routinely did with my old web-based phone, and the Android app offered not much new. It was, however a whole lot faster. Plus, the app features a map the web page did not, and I was able to select the bus stop by visual location rather than finding and entering the stop number. So the app has a slight advantage.

Yesterday, as we left for gaming in Everett, Phillip decided that he wasn’t going to have us leave the game early to go to the Cricket store. If it got too late to go, and we were all having fun gaming, he’d go get his phone fixed on Monday, after work. Gaming got over around 4:00, the Cricket store closed at 6, so Phillip, who was driving, decided to go. Should he take the freeway or surface streets, he asked as we left Everett. I checked the traffic report on the WSDOT app. The freeway was “green” until a half-mile around 185th, then green all the way to 145th. So, the freeway it was. This was something I couldn’t do at all with my old phone.

Phillip sent me an email this morning, asking me to pick up a hold for him at the library. I have the Seattle Public Library app. One of its features is a “Bar Code Wallet”. I’ve entered Phillip’s library card number, as well as mine, and it generates bar codes, which I’ve saved to my “wallet”. I had a text file with Phillip’s library card number in my old phone, and I’d enter the number manually at the self check-out.

The phone’s barcode worked perfectly at the self check-out. It was just like having Phillip’s library card with me. (Of course, I still have to know his PIN.)

wp-1464031900958.pngThe library app is pretty cool. It doesn’t do everything the library web site does. (I can’t access my “shelves”, and it doesn’t default to my preferred hold location, for instance.) But I can view my account, check to see if a hold has come in while I’m riding home, search for books, put books on hold, view branch locations and hours, and so on. The weirdest feature I’ve found so far is the ability to scan a book’s bar code to search the library’s catalog. (I’ll bet book stores aren’t thrilled with that.) The library app is useful, but nothing I couldn’t get by without.

One of the things I predict the new smart phone will change is the question-and-answer game Phillip and I play occasionally. A question will pop into Phillip’s head (Is there snow in Mexico?, for instance) and then it’s my job to find the answer. It used to be that I’d have to remember the question and then remember to look it up when we got home. Now, depending on the circumstances, I can look up the answer wherever we are. (Yes, my old phone had internet, but its ability to actually display web pages was extremely limited. My old phone generally sucked.) And, actually, the game may go away altogether now that our phones have “OK Google” and we can both just ask our phones “Is there snow in Mexico?”

This post was written on a desktop computer, and the screenshot was uploaded via the WordPress app on my phone. I’ve explored the app, but writing a blog post on it seems awkward to me. The smart phone doesn’t win this one.

So far, I’m happy to be a part of the 21st century.

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