Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Discovering the iPhone's Limits

When I first decided to get the iPhone, I just decided. Like that. I suddenly imagined blogging and yelping on it and taking pictures and texting by touch (which I know is how one would normally take pictures and text -- by using one's opposable thumb in conjunction with an index finger -- but you know what I mean). It sounded easy: I'd walk into the Apple store, tell them what I wanted and join Nathalie's family plan. But when you really want something, it's always easier said than done.

So on the day when we went to the Apple store together, I started sweating. It was hot out, but not only that, I really wanted an iPhone. Because we couldn't get our questions answered to our satisfaction, we went home, without an iPhone. A few days later we went to another Apple store on our lunch, and as we waited with all the other greedy consumers in line, I worried something would go wrong and that I wouldn't be able to get what I came for. The man in line behind us fretted that he wouldn't make his 1 o'clock work meeting. It was 12:40 P.M. So there we all were, all sweating and fretting together over a small mobile phone, available in high-shine black and in calming white. After a small eternity, I finally spoke to someone who knew what was up, and shortly afterwards, I walked out with my new iPhone.

While I haven't figured out how to blog on it yet, I have gotten heavy use out of the maps app and it's only been about a week. I've also found a good boba place in Westwood on Yelp, checked the weather, checked the time in Phnom Penh, calculated how much to save per month to retire comfortably by age 65 and recorded voice memos to remind me of locations of safe keeping, like where I've placed my stamps. It takes care of me so well that I've forgiven it for it's small, rectangular, impossibly uncuddly shape. I've grown accustomed to its screen lighting up whenever it feels my touch, and it's become a companion I've come to love as though we've known each other for years.

I do not doubt it and never once did I check Google maps on a PC before leaving home to explore uncharted territories. The problem was that I had also grown accustomed to Nathalie's Garmin GPS and its ability to advise on when to make U-turns. If you don't know, the iPhone doesn't do that. I know this because this weekend, after visiting the Cal Academy of Sciences, I equipped Sophie with my iPhone and instructed her to be my navigator, and as we tried to find our way home, she kept telling me to drive straight. The conversation went something like this:

Me: You're sure? Just go straight?
She: Yea, just keep going straight. Then turn right on Stan-Yan.
Me: Stanyan. Like Canyon.
She: Yeah, Stan-Yan. Right on Stan-Yan.
Me: So just keep going straight?
She: Uh huh.
A few blocks later and with expansive views of Ocean Beach ahead of us...
Me: OK, if I keep going straight I'm going to drive into the ocean.
She: Oh. I guess you should turn around now.

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