25 September 2012

The World Is Not As Convenient As They Say

I need to whine about my first world problem for a moment. 

I work for a major telecommunications company, where, like any self-respecting tech company we routinely tout our products as the most amazing things ever, and talk about how cell phones are powerful hand-held computers that will revolutionize your life because, ya know, they have apps.  My whining isn't about who I work for, rather, its annoyance with the messaging that I can do anything with my cell phone.

There is an app for keeping track of frequent flier numbers and the many "memberships" one must have in order not to pay an inflated price at the grocery store.  An app for making my photographs look like they were taken with 110 camera, because doesn't everyone want to be a hipster?  Apps for finding recipes and trying on new hairstyles and to make reading magazines on your phone more convenient than being able to read a magazine. On your phone. 

Studies show that although people download lots of apps, they don't actually use many of them. Perhaps that's because so many things that apps purport to do for you, you can already do for yourself (Like take crappy pictures. I'm good at that one.)  My favorites are those apps that really do make my life convenient - a timer since I haven't worn a watch since 8th grade and was never great at following a second hand anyway, an e-reader so I don't have to lug 15 pounds of books with me on vacation. The Washington State Dems put together a "flashcard" app prior to the DNC that linked to a photo of each member of the Delegation and their bio so we could remember each other's names.  And I have an app that turns my phone into a white noise machine, again awesome for travel.

All of these things, whether on my iPad or my Android phone, are amazing and marvelous and I'd miss them if I didn't have them. 


It really irritates me when an app, like those for Facebook, fails to deliver even half of the functionality of accessing the page on your desktop PC.  Twitter on the iPad is dismal, I gave up properly tagging or adding photos to my blog during the DNC because it was maddening to try on both my  iPad and my phone.  I could write a post, but only one of limited length because then the iPad would simply stop navigating to the the bottom portions.

Gmail sorta works on the iPad, and I get that Apple would love to sabotage all things Google, but if I'm getting there using Apple's internet browser, and if the iPad is a "tablet PC" shouldn't it work the same way as it does on my "real PC?"  Apparently not.  

The last straw for me yesterday is realizing it was impossible for me to input my flight times on my Google Calendar using either the iPad or my Android phone. To appreciate the maddening irony of the latter, you need only understand that Android is an operating system designed by...Google!  Yes, all the expensive computing power at my reach, and I still had to move to my office to put an appointment on my calendar.

On the iPad I can make an appointment, but only enter in the times allowed to me by the pull down scroll wheel, not the precise "7:35 pm" as I'd like to.  And while my phone will let me put in whatever time I want, it lacked the functionality to let me instruct it about the applicable time zones of said appointment. Rather an important thing, given that Google Calendar (or Android OS, who the hell knows) unhelpfully thoughtfully assumes I would like all of my appointment times adjusted for the time zone I'm in and changes it without asking.  So if I've correctly entered everything now that I moved to my office, my flight from Seattle that leaves at 8:05am PST and arrives in DC at 4:05pm EST shows on my calendar right now as 8:10am - 1:05pm, and when I land in DC it will show on my calendar as 11:10am - 4:05pm.  This ensures that multi-time zoned appointments are only ever half right, and I have to perform Algebra in my literature-loving brain to make appointment times right for wherever I will be when the appointment happens.  

Which is all a rather roundabout way to ask the developers out there (especially you, Google!) to pretty please get your shit together and do it right?  I mean, I get why Facebook doesn't have it (they want you to see ads) but my Gmail and Google Calendar should just be what they are no matter where they are especially if I'm on a web browser.  Google wants its users to immerse itself in a universe similar to the Cult of Apple's (but nicer, way nicer), so functionality on a free service (email) is the hook that keeps me going back for more!  So why doesn't it work right?  

In conclusion, a giant box of Fran's Chocolates to whomever can fix it.  Deadline: Halloween.  Cuz I'm flying somewhere and I don't want to be late. 

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