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Long ago, portable devices had keys -- and device users were customers

This text is touch-typed on a real keyboard.  The keyboard is attached to a computer, as is the display.  It is very functional. Compare that to a Very Smart Phone (VSP) with its soft keyboard and its microphone for dictating (Speak Now! Oops, too late -- Speak Now!).  So consider the description of one particular smartphone keyboard app, Smart Keyboard Pro: “It’s not bad if you need something simple that just works.”  Obviously some people expect/want something more. For them, there are a myriad of choices, including these iOS keyboard apps – how about that version 1.0.1 Google-provided iPhone keyboard app called Gboard?

Smartphones are not for the faint-of-focus. A VSP does many things very well. In the good-to-great category, it can play hours of music and hold boatloads of books. It connects us to truly endless social network posts, news update, and mass media, all updating the latest clickbait, aka, journalism. A VSP tracks steps if we have the thing with us. Although we are cautious about its much-debated step-counting accuracy, we also note that a VSP can produce ridiculously high quality pictures. And a plus for productivity, it’s also great for playing time-sapping games. Note Pokémon Go, downloaded 7 million times in 3 days -- a location-based, no-instructions sidewalk, park and cliff-walking hazard.

Yet the user experience still has miles to go before it sleeps. It’s apparent that the major app, social media, browser and device players fear and loath each other. As a side effect, they seem to hate us too. Consider the many "how do I" forum discussions, which likely influence developers to deliver new and arcane features. Luckily, they also help us overcome oddities that shouldn’t be there in the first place and turn into thorny problems. Map upgrades that predict where you want to go before you have typed any text? Is that creepy or what? And how about the turn-by-turn option which must be activated by a teeny-tiny arrow... But when you are stuck, there is nobody available to call, at least without a great deal of anxiety and searching. Ever try to find someone to help with non-business service Gmail lockout?  And who is Vivian, anyway?

The forums can be most helpful for geeks and tech support companies.  When we start searching for answers to thorny questions like 'how to avoid a mandatory upgrade' – the Android and iOS forum run by Apple can be lifesavers for the most determined. Sometimes the forums cough up clues to imponderables – like how to avoid a Facebook upgrade that mandates installation of Facebook Messenger. When asking Google how many downloaded books can be stored on a smartphone, how is it that this comes up first to tell us what a mobile app is -- a pitiful 2011 consumer article from the FTC?  On the flip side, that automatic upgrade that absolutely had to be accepted from Verizon -- why was that so urgent? You guessed it! "This software update helps prevent an unintentional device Factory Data Reset (FDR) after multiple failed attempts to use a fingerprint to unlock the device." But of course.


Dear MS Orlov LOVED your thoughtful and excellent post - and I may suggest an alternate technology - which I have newly coined VDU ( Very Dumb User ) this is how I feel about being swirled in an ever increased capacity speed/ tech/data /input vortex...I have no MORE RAM IN MY BLONDE BRAIN...

Maxine Pierson



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