TechieTalk: Rage Against the Mundane: Smartphones

By Roy Mathur, on 2012-07-16, for The Independent Daily, Mauritius (in which an edited version appeared)

iPhone 4S: Apple's Humongous, World Eating Worm Enslaves Humanity

I own a smartphone, the only smartphone that seems worth owning, the iPhone 4S. I part-exchanged this when my iPad 2 met with an unfortunate end. Why the iPhone compared to all the other smartphones out there? Am I an Apple fanboy? Do I worship at the Church of Apple and truly believe that everything out of the hallowed halls of Cupertino is blessed by the gods? Or is it that Apple has the best tech, or maybe that they simply get the user. NO. Nyet. None of the above.

The Good

It IS the easiest to use, has a decent camera with a flash and it works with minimum setup headaches thanks to the hardware and the layout of IOS. That's it and that's all!

The Bad

Apple bangs on about iCloud, the AppStore, iTunes, Siri etc.. But, iCloud backups suck, being forced to use the AppStore sucks, being limited to what Apple says an app can and can't do sucks and iTunes sucks. Steve Jobs once said that the best piece of Windows software was iTunes. Bald-faced rubbish. No, it is NOT. It is horrible and SLOW.

The Ugly

And let's not forget Siri which is completely and utterly useless with no Yelp-like partnership in many parts of the world. It also doesn't like or recognise my nerdy, lispy voice. And I hate the UK English voice. I despise it. I loathe it. It sounds even more boring than Mr. Bean. All computer voices should have a sexy contralto, like the female computer voice in Star Trek. Or the voice of a terrible, vindictive child, like HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey. It should not sound monotonous, dull and with about as much life as an elderly funeral director.

Let's face it, I bought it because it was the best compromise of features. A really big, massive, humongous compromise. Why? It's far too expensive, you can't just plug it into your computer and directly transfer files, oh no, you have to use the unspeakable, resource-hogging obscenity that is iTunes and, worst of all, it's stuck in a completely closed ecosystem.

Complaints About All Smartphones

If we are expected to pay through the nose for a pocket computer, make sure, as a bare minimum, to include some form or protective case for the body and screen and an integrated kick-stand so that we can prop the thing up on a desk or bed-side table. Do you really expect us to fork out a huge wodge of cash and then not be able to use the thing for fear of damage? Duhhh.

Don't even get me started on appalling battery life. Surf the internet and watch your battery meter beg for mercy.

How about input? Instead of trying to consign the physical keyboard to the dusty annals of computer history, we now have an even worse on-screen keyboard. Voice recognition for input? (See my rant against Siri earlier in this article).

I want my smartphone to work as a complete PC system. It CAN be done. The last manufacturer that had a decent stab at a true pocket sized PC was OQO, themselves defectors from the Church of Apple. I wonder why, in this day and age of powerful, 3D capable smartphones we still need a separate desktop PC? Where is Ubuntu, Windows 8 and Mac OS X for ARM? I'm sick to death of just making do with Anaemic Android, Blah Blackberry, and the Great IOS Lockout.

Open Message to Smartphone Manufacturers

Stop giving us mediocrity, we want functionality AND starship technology from the year 3001. We want Mozart NOT Salieri. In the immortal words of the R and D manager in the film Brain Storm:

"I want you to knock my socks off."

And stop making every damn thing look like Apple products.