Given the complications that arise with electronic software and hardware — its cost, its unpredictable level of service, its arcane instructions, not to mention the cost of maintenance and repair — it’s a wonder that electronics are so popular. Imagine how many vacuum cleaners would be sold with those impediments.
Last week, I was attempting to arrange a coffee date with a friend. For a full five minutes, I waited while she scrolled through her smart phone searching for her calendar. Next she took another couple of minutes scrolling again for an available date while I stood, diary and pen in hand, waiting…waiting.
We’re all old enough to know that new isn’t a synonym for better. Take the newest electronic gadget, the Apple watch. Even at the low end, it’s expensive with a beginning price tag of $350. Apparently, there’s a steep learning curve to use it, and you have to own an Apple smart phone to work the device, a far cry from Ma Bell when all you did was plug the machine into the wall jack.
Niley Patel of TheVerge.com complains the watch’s operations are slow. (“Technology,” The Week, 4/14/15 pg. 18.) Its stutters loading notifications,” for example Pulling information from the iPhone is slow and, he adds, the watch isn’t as good as the IPod Nano for playing music. David Pogue of Yahoo.com (Ibid pg. 18) complains navigation isn’t easy either. “There’s a scrolling digital crown, a side button and a touch screen, but there aren’t any obvious visual cues to guide you around the system.” (Ibid pg 18.) Worse, when you have a message it taps your wrist to get your attention. Joshua Topolsky of Bloomberg.com admits that though he paid handsomely for the service, he finally turned the app off for a little peace. (Ibid, pg 18.)
Despite these and other drawbacks — like you can’t surf the internet or return messages because there’s no browser or keyboard — pundits predict the Apple watch will be one of the hottest sellers of the year and will increase the company’s profits substantially. One critic gushed this new contraption will be “the best smart watch in the world.” (Ibid, pg 18.) He’s probably right because it’s the only smart watch in the world.
Beside electronic devices, what Apple understands best is human nature. We want to be first with the latest gadget and we’ll pay dearly for the bragging rights.