Santa came a little early this year.
After years of clunking along with an older model Blackberry phone, I took the plunge recently and got myself a new iPhone, complete with all the bells and whistles.
Actually, I didn’t have much choice in the matter. My trusty Blackberry’s screen just went blank one night, and two days later, I couldn’t get it to make calls.
I checked into getting it fixed, but the guy at the phone repair shop said it would cost $85, with no guarantees it would be a long-term fix.
So a few days later, off I went to buy a phone.
The last time I did this, the whole process took about 25 minutes.
This time around, it was more like an hour — and it wasn’t because of bad service. Actually, it was quite the contrary.
The sales guy worked with me to find the right model, with sufficient memory and the features I was looking for. After I decided what color phone I wanted (of course, this is very important in the grand scheme of things), we got down to business.
First, I had to register with Apple and set up my passwords. I also had to have my emails synched to my phone from my Gmail account.
On top of that, I had to let the phone scan my thumbprint so it would only recognize my touch to unlock it.
As if that wasn’t cool enough, I had to read five phrases to Siri — the electronic computer app with the female voice — so she would only respond to my voice commands.
I have to say, Siri is a cool “gal,” albeit with an odd sense of humor. If you want a good laugh, ask Siri to divide zero by zero and wait for her smart-aleck answer. Or ask her what she’s doing for Christmas (“I was going to take selfies and put them on Christmas cards, but I don’t photograph well.”).
But she also knows her way to my heart. When I asked her how many people attended last week’s Chicago Bears game (in a snowstorm), she not only told me the attendance but put a box score from the game on the screen. And it’s great to be able to call my wife just by asking Siri to do it for me.
Having said that, I have to admit that I haven’t yet used half the features on my phone. Other than talking, texting, emailing, checking the weather and looking at Facebook, I haven’t done much.
I haven’t streamed sporting events, played music videos, downloaded movies, played online games or even emailed photos to friends. In fact, I don’t know anything about some of the apps on the screen.
And you know what? I really don’t have the time to find out. I’m too busy during the day to do anything but the basics, and the last thing I want to do when I get home at night is spend hours with my face glued to the screen.
Still, I am amazed at how far technology has come in the last 20 years.
My first cellphone was a big, unwieldy, tube-shaped device that had an antenna and didn’t do anything but make phone calls.
My second cellphone was a flip phone (remember those?) that could take pictures and send text messages — very slowly, since the letters were grouped on the same keys as the phone digits.
Then came my little Blackberry, which could text, email, take photos and video and access the internet. It also had all sorts of other features that brought me into the 21st century.
But that phone was junior college compared to the brains and features of my new phone — and I find that just a little bit intimidating.
In fact, I get the sneaking suspicion that Siri thinks she’s smarter than I am.
And you know, I’m not so sure she’s wrong about that.
Dave Miller is deputy managing editor for the opinion of the Killeen Daily Herald and editor of the Harker Heights Herald. Contact him at email@example.com or 254-501-7543