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October 3, 2012

The Phone is a Computer, Right?

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

Cell phone users! You are too complacent! Your phones are interesting toys, but why aren’t they exploiting their full-on power as a computer? Why aren’t the manufacturers doing the same things to smartphones that have made computers so useful?

I’m going to cut to the chase:

My landline phone back in 1985 had an answering machine attached. When I didn’t pick up the phone after three rings, the answering machine turned in. It played a message, the same message for every caller. Then it recorded up to two minutes of a reply. Even my answering machine from 2005 did the same thing, albeit on digital media instead of a cassette tape.

Today, my super-smart cell phone does basically the same super-stupid thing: When I can’t answer a call, it plays a recorded message and then records a reply. That’s it.

And they call it voicemail, as if it’s something fancy.

Granted, under the Android OS, I can direct certain numbers to go directly into voicemail. That’s okay. But where is the power? Where is the programmability?

What I want is multiple messages. I want to record different greetings and assign them to different numbers. Then I want voicemail to be smart enough to alert me differently depending on the message. That’s all posible with programming, but none of the major manufacturers or developers offer such a feature.

Remember what they said about computers: They’re supposed to make your life easier. They’re supposed to automate many redundant tasks. Why not apply that same rule to a cell phone, especially to one of its most basic features?

I should note that Google Voice apparently has the ability to do what I’m writing about. But the problem with Google Voice is that it features perhaps the most clunky interface of any program I’ve ever used. And I don’t want to go to the Internet on a PC to configure Google Voice: I want an app!

Hopefully someone will listen. And voicemail isn’t the only programmable aspect of using a cell phone that could stand some out-of-the-box thinking and application. Call waiting is just as stupid as it was 20 years ago. And don’t get me started on how slow and clumsy the Camera app is on any Android phone.

O, how I rant!

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