Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Shucks, my phone is smarter than me!

This appeared in the South Asian Times today.

Did you ever think you would use the words 'retina display' and 'calling girlfriend’ in one line? Or for that matter 'gyroscope' and ‘kick ass score’? Pardon my ignorance but I thought gyroscopes were used by OBGYNs for finding dreadful bacteria in dreadful spots and no one except eye doctors should be liberally using terms like retina. Ok forget that for a second. How about a 5 MP camera in the phone with backside illuminated sensor for ambient lighting? I just signed up for an advanced photography class and I feel cheated that geeks all over silicon valley and later all over the country will now know what kind of lighting is used in the pictures they sloppily take through their phones.

Yesterday I virtually checked myself into the one of the most hyped technology events, WWDC’s (World Wide Developers Conference) key note speech made by Steve Jobs. I work in tech but conferences aren't my thing. I usually feel misplaced, disinterested, famished, chilled, homesick, non-receptive... anything but excited at conferences. Yesterday was a different story despite my not being there in person. Or perhaps it was because of that. In any event, witnessing change is a great feeling. And witnessing massive change brings about a high that not many things can.

These new generation phones, whether it's Droid Incredible by HTC that runs Google's Android Software or HTC EVP 4G, the first US phone to access faster 4G networks or Apple's iPhone4 that can make video calls, all offer features that 3 years back might have seemed like science fiction: reading books, video conferencing, streaming movies, capturing videos in high definition, refined photography and video games with sensors on extremely high resolution screens… things only Charlie’s Angels and James Bond could do simultaneously while making someone’s gums bleed. The future is here. Which means we need a new future. What will it hold, I wonder.

It isn't just these in-built features that make smart phones a life essential. It's the apps that can do just about anything short of serving you breakfast in bed. In addition to the standard apps for online banking, Amazon, Ebay, Zillow (oops guilty as charged), etc., there are a variety of uber cool ones. Like Shakespeare which lets you view and read all Shakespeare plays and sonnets with a push of a button. Who knew you could take Othello along wherever you went? Like Tuner which, believe it or not, helps you tune your guitar. What? How? Like BarCheck for the smart shopper. While shopping, you can enter the numbers on an item’s bar code to get review and prices from Amazon, Google and Yahoo. Like Aurora Feint which is probably on of the most entertaining and addicting games complete with full audio soundtrack, visual illustrations and characters. Like iphodmeter for the fitness freaks. It helps you track how many calories your workout is burning and sends you all your stats by email. Like HearPlanet app that will be your new talking tour guide which can make traveling to a new place easier than ever. Who need a husband on vacation when you can have a talking tour guide? ;) Oh and the most intriguing app... Farmville! How could I forget that one! Farmville (did you know it had a whopping 70 million user base?) is now available on the new iPhone and it syncs with your Facebook farms. Please tell me you see the irony. It’s never been more obvious. We're making technological advances at a remarkable pace so ultimately we could farm with smart phones ;)

Meanwhile, I need to put myself on a 5-year get-smart plan to avoid the Kasparov vs. Deep Blue supercomputer situation.

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