Kathe Tanner: I take the iPlunge

July 26, 2012 

There’s no hope for me. I confess: I’ve succumbed to the “Evil i.” I’m now the pleased, if puzzled, owner of an iPhone, having finally been swayed by proselytizing advocates who pushed me over the edge … two of our sons, for instance, plus other family members, business associates, neighbors and other friends.

Let’s face it. The iPhone and iPad do spawn avid zealots, those rabidly enthusiastic Apple missionaries who love to convert errant users of Android or Blackberry phones.

To hear i-fans talk, the Apple phone and tablet do everything but the breakfast dishes and laundry, and those software applications (apps) are on the drawing board right now, by golly.

Yeah, sure. But first, someone tell me how to go back one i-page or find the e-book I just downloaded … to somewhere.

At first, I was righteously hesitant about the whole i-concept, being enough of a closet radical to balk at buying something that everybody else already has.

So, I did months of research—online, in print and even by quizzing i-users unlucky enough to be sitting near me at a restaurant, doctor’s office or the car wash. Eventually, I deduced that my dying Blackberry won’t ever have a good, new-technology younger sibling, and most Androids are basically iPhone wannabes.

So I caved.

Since then, I’ve discovered that buying any Apple i-gadget is rather like going to In ‘n’ Out Burger but not knowing about the secret menu…and being terribly confused to hear another customer ordering lunch “animal style.”

At least Apple doesn’t grill mustard on top of the iPhone. Yet.

Unfortunately, the firm also doesn’t provide a useful cheat sheet to teach me the i-equivalent of In ‘n’ Out’s secret “Protein Burger” or “Flying Dutchman.” (Sorry if you non-burger-eaters are confused by the last few paragraphs, but at least now you know how I feel every time I open a new app.)

Apple does provide a mini fold-out guide, fetchingly entitled “Finger Tips,” but the tiny leaflet neglects to tell me how to leave a page when I’m not quite ready to leave the app just yet.

Or how to convince the iPhone that I really did tap that

key or link when it doesn’t think I did.

Or how to get back to square one, so the next time I open the app, I’m not right back in the middle of whatever it was I no longer wanted to do.

The iPhone salesfolks also didn’t tell me that, once I do unearth a nifty hint for one application — say Newsstand or the App Store — that little how-to gem probably won’t work in Contacts, Weather or Mail.

Wouldn’t you have thought the app developers would have gotten together to figure all that out before the iPhones were released to torture the masses? “Say, Charlie, there has to be one trick our customers can use to do this or that in every app? Whaddya think?”

No. So, they played hide-the-clue, each one a little differently.

Since then, to help me through the i-maze, I’ve printed assorted pages from the online Apple “manual,” which appears to have been poorly translated from Sanskrit. I’ve signed up for an i-class. I’ve reserved and taken out i-texts from the library, including one called “iPhone—The missing manual, the book that should have been in the box.” Ya think?

I’m still lost, forlornly wandering around in i-land, trying to figure out, for instance, how to explain the town of Atascadero to the mysterious, voice-activated i-assistant, Siri.

Did she give me the answer I wanted? No.

Instead, she politely asked if I wanted her to search the Web for “Itasca Darrow” (a motorhome crossed with a legendary attorney, perhaps?).

The iPhone is indeed a bit of magic sandwiched between thin slabs of glass and metal. But I think it’s also e-wizardry manipulated by a mischievous digital leprechaun who lives in the iCloud, behind the curtain.

And that app? I’ll take my double-double extra toasted, medium rare and cut in half, please. Now, about that iPad... ….

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