Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
I come from a generation where an application was something you filled out when you wanted a job. TV (all five channels of it) was in 2D. Phones were unitaskers and could hardly be described as smart.
Times have changed. At least they are changing at my house.
This week, we got our first smartphone, which, by logical inference, makes us a "smartfamily." Or, since the phone belongs to my husband, maybe he's the smart one. We're not sure, because he and I are still experiencing difficulties getting the touchscreen to recognize our fingers. It's more challenging than it sounds. Really.
But only if you are over the age of 35. Our kids were immediately adept with the touch aspect of the screen. Our youngest son grabbed the phone from my husband's untouchable fingers and had the gizmo whizzing and whirring faster than you can say "macintosh."
I realize my family is delayed when it comes to the IQ of our phones. Many people have been living with a phone that is smarter than them for years. We are not that clever.
For the few of you who are (like me) still living in the old millennium, one key aspect of a smartphone's intelligence is its ability to access and use applications. Applications ("apps" for those in the know) are computer programs designed to do a specific task. According to the smartphone iSuperstore, more than 425,000 apps are available to ensure your phone is the smartest on the block. That's nothing short of iSpectacular.
Apps can be useful in many situations. For instance, they can tell you the weather conditions, indispensable when you don't have a window to look outside and see for yourself. There's an app to access sports scores and one to tell you how many calories were in the burrito you just ate. One of my favorites creates office noise to give the impression you are awake while you take an afternoon nap at work, iClever.
Besides these practical and functional apps, there are some that are just plain silly. Take, for instance, the app that allows you to drink a virtual glass of milk (or beer if you are old enough), or the one that turns your phone's screen into an animated mouth that lip syncs to your voice, frightfully impressive in a wasting-time sort of way. I'd be remiss if I failed to mention the app simulating the sound of passing gas. The possibilities are iEndless, if not iCrude.
Of the hundreds of thousands of apps available, hundreds of thousands of them are games. Some of the ones I found include Stupid Game, Stupid Monkeys and Stupid Zombies. There is also a popular game involving birds. The term "bird brain" is akin to being called stupid, but these virtual birds are not stupid. They are angry. I don't possess any firsthand knowledge about these apps, but I'm guessing these games come in handy when you encounter unencumbered free time and want to do something stupid with your smartphone. (That's iSarcasm, in case you didn't catch it.)
We are living in a 3D 4G world and in the last week my husband has not only learned to turn his phone on, he's become proficient at checking e-mail and downloading apps. He's even asked us to call him iDad.
Meanwhile, I sit here with a dumbphone in my pocket. As much as I'd like to play a stupid game with stupid zombies, I'm not completely convinced it would be a smart use of my time. When someone invents a program that can get my sons to put the toilet seat down, then I'll pay attention. Do me a favor and drop a line when there's an app for that. I'll be forever iGrateful.
Jill Pertler, award-winning syndicated columnist and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" is collecting fans on Facebook on her Slices of Life page. E-mail her at
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