The Life Changing iPhone 4S

The earliest adaptors, the tech glitterati, have determined that the iPhone 4S, or the phone’s Siri voice recognition feature more specifically, is a life changer. John Gruber said he “could live without it, but wouldn’t want to.”

Funny how one day life is rolling pretty darn well without voice recognition on phones and the next a few peeps start asking, “How did we ever live without it?” And before long, we’re wondering how did we ever get off the couch to change the television channel and how did we ever use our phones just to talk to people.

Walt Mossberg provided this life-changing Siri voice recognition example. WM, “Find a French restaurant.” 4S, “I found 13 French restaurants, 7 in Bethesda.” WM, “Remind me to call my wife when I get home.” 4S, “Okay, I will remind you.”

I’m not anti-tech, but the hyperbole in the reviews helps distinguish between those earliest adaptors and the much later ones like me. As an AAPL investor I follow the phone releases, and I’m glad when they’re successful, but my heart rate doesn’t quicken at the thought of standing in line to purchase one.

Call me crazy, but the life-changing bar is a little low if it hinges on finding a French restaurant or receiving a reminder to call someone.

Wake me when an iPhone can accurately fulfill these types of requests:

• Find a nearby, inexpensive restaurant on the water with great vegetarian dishes, quick service, and a table near a television programmed to the game.

• Alert me 30 seconds before my wife is about to ask me a “how do you feel about” question.

• Whenever my wife asks a “how do you feel about” question, provide me the optimal answer.

• Show me AAPL’s closing price for next Friday.

• Alert me 30 days before the UCLA basketball team’s next National Championship.

• Tell me if it will rain next Saturday afternoon anywhere in Thurston County between noon and 3p.m.

• On the first day of every month, please remind me how much time I have to live.

Be still my beating heart

Postscript.

The Nostalgia Trap

As I age, I’d like to avoid many middle-aged and elderly people’s penchant for complaining that “compared to back in the day, the world is going to hell.” Much of that pessimism rests on selective perception. Except for the clinically depressed, isn’t life a constantly shifting mix of good and bad?

Here’s a related NYT book review excerpt from a new novel “Super Sad” which takes place in the near future.

“Mr. Shteyngart has extrapolated every toxic development already at large in America to farcical extremes. The United States is at war in Venezuela, and its national debt has soared to the point where the Chinese are threatening to pull the plug. There are National Guard checkpoints around New York, and riots in the city’s parks. Books are regarded as a distasteful, papery-smelling anachronism by young people who know only how to text-scan for data, and privacy has become a relic of the past. Everyone carries around a device called an äppärät, which can live-stream its owner’s thoughts and conversations, and broadcast their “hotness” quotient to others. People are obsessed with their health — Lenny works as a Life Lovers Outreach Coordinator (Grade G) for a firm that specializes in life extension — and shopping is the favorite pastime of anyone with money. It’s “zero hour for our economy,” says one of Lenny’s friends, “zero hour for our military might, zero hour for everything that used to make us proud to be ourselves.”

Is your relative optimism or pessimism based upon the quality of your nation’s governance, economy, and military, or as I suspect, more on the nature of your personal budget, the status of your family’s and your health, the quality of your friendships, and the relative purposefulness of your work.

I’m feeling positive about life today in part because of a post run lake swim, an enjoyable dinner with three friends, and an amazing sunset over the sound.

I have downer moments, days, and weeks like everyone.

I prefer spending time with people who reject the myth of a golden yesteryear and what sociologists refer to as “deficit model” thinking and show empathy for the truly unfortunate. People whose thoughts, words, and deeds are more hopeful than cynical.