As compared to others in my circle of friends, I was fairly late to the iPhone party. Not so late that it appeared I had completely forgotten about the party or that I disliked the people hosting it, but certainly well past the threshold of fashionably late. I fell somewhere in the middle where it’s obvious I had made no effort to prepare myself for the party, but was able to make up for it with a semi-expensive bottle of wine.
When I did finally become the proud owner of my very own iPhone however, it was like I had just unlocked the cheat codes for Contra (up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start). The skies opened up and the heavens were revealed to me. I think I even saw Moses skipping down a mountain, scribbling something on his two tablet PCs…or I might have been dreaming, I’m not sure.
Either way, a new world lay in front of me. A world of touch-screens and apps; a world of music, movies, and e-mail. There was so much to see, do, and learn on this mobile device. I even think there’s a feature that allows you to talk to someone over magical waves of air…at least that’s what I’ve heard, I haven’t actually gotten to that yet. But why speak when you can text, e-mail, and facebook chat?
I’ve had my iPhone for about a year now, and during that time I’ve used it as a navigation system, an encyclopedia, a television, a stereo, and even a level. There are about a bazillion apps that I have yet to discover, but the ones I have been introduced to are amazing.
Apple does a pretty good job of promoting the iPhone as the device that can do it all, so I doubt they are looking for any outside advice. But, I’m going to give them some anyway. I may not be an expert on many things, as evidenced by my dismal fantasy football predictions I wrote a couple of weeks ago, but I consider myself fairly capable when it comes to keeping my children occupied. The truth is, I’m not sure where I’d be if not for the distraction features of my fancy smartphone.
This is where Apple is missing out. I believe that the “in-over-his-head-father” is an untapped demographic that is ripe for the picking. So many of the iPhone’s apps are perfect for drawing the attention of your little ones away from coloring on the walls and towards the shiny goodness that is your phone. Let me demonstrate just a few of the multi-purpose apps I am referring to.
The Camera: If you have the iPhone 4, this feature is your ace-in-the-hole. Thanks to the technology that is “face time”, you can now look at yourself while taking your picture. No more turning the screen away from you, holding it as far out as your arm can reach, snapping the picture and then realizing you only got half of your head and a very clear image of the inside of your left nostril. The hidden benefit of this forward-facing camera though, is its ability to mesmerize your toddler as she makes faces at herself for hours on end.
Pandora App: A musical gift from the gods, this “internet radio” allows you to search an artist, song, or genre and then create an entire radio station devoted to your selection. Parents: next time you’re facing a long car ride with the kiddies, search Disney songs, hit play, and feel free to send any “thank you” gifts to my P.O. Box.
YouTube: That’s right, the reason for a 28% decrease in work productivity and a 28% increase in videos of cats is right here on your iPhone. It also serves as a helpful tool for occupying your kids when you need to cook dinner, fold laundry, or just zone out for a few minutes. Be careful with this one though. If you leave the kids unsupervised for too long, you may come back to find them replicating a video of some kids performing wrestling moves in their backyard.
App Store: Games, games, and more games are available for your downloading pleasure. Some are free, others are not, but the few minutes of distraction time is well worth the $1.99 you may have to pay.
These are just a few of the features that make the iPhone the perfect companion for the overwhelmed parent. I fully expect to see the following commercial from Apple in the coming weeks. A disheveled father, surrounded by raging toddlers, tosses his phone to the kids like a steak to a pack of wolves. The kids begin to play with the phone as the father scurries to his feet. He watches in disbelief, as the energizer bunnies slowly calm down and screams are replaced by giggles. He looks up to heaven, grinning from ear to ear, as Steve Jobs’ face appears and gives the father a wink.
You’re welcome Apple. Please make checks payable to The Wordslinger.