Failing at blogging winning at Google maps

My poor blog has been neglected, it’s not that I don’t love it but I’ve been on holiday. I’m currently in Philadelphia I arrived today from Boston. There are a few reasons I have neglected my blog, limited access to wifi plus the fact on a couple of days I completely forgot. Even though I have been on holiday technology has never been very far away from me. In fact it has rarely left my my hand.

I have relied heavily on my iPhone. More specifically I have relied heavily on Google Maps. Google Maps has helped me navigate my way around cities I have never visited before. I can actually read a map but sadly I do have a terrible sense of direction and an even worse memory. So being able to press a button on my phone and have a little blue button appear on a map tell me where I am has been amazing. Google Maps has helped me navigate complicated public transport systems. Google Transit has helped me get from A to B remarkably easily. I’m have been amazed at how accurate and easy it has been to use Google Transit to get around.

I was even able to take a screenshot of a map of my location when I was on a ferry from Salem to Boston. I know that may seem a little pointless but it made me happy.

20131003-231229.jpg

Probably the coolest function of Google Maps (and for the record Apple Maps does it too) Is finding things that are not usually listed on a map. Even though I could look in a phone book I would then need a street directory to work out where places are in relation to me. It is much easier with Google Maps, I was looking for a laundromat so I searched on Google Maps and I found 3 all with online reviews and pictures! So I picked the one with the best reviews and checked out the opening hours and I was good to go. I have also found cinemas, libraries and banks.

My iPhone and I are having a great holiday and I will do better at loving my blog in the future.

Smartphones win again

Smartphones win again! Today I went to the Guggenheim. It is a very popular museum, in fact there was a long line to get in. I walked to the front of the line to double check what was going on. I noticed a sign in front of a much shorter line. The sign said “pre-paid ticket holders”. I sat down on the wall next to the entrance got out my phone and checked the Guggenheim website. I discovered I could buy tickets through the website. So I got out my credit card and pre-purchased a ticket to the museum. I chose to collect my ticket at the museum rather than print one (a bit tricky in the street). I waited 2 minutes before being let in then gave my name at the ticket desk and they checked my booking and gave me a ticket. Yay!! I then installed the Guggenheim app which gave me more information about the museum and exhibitions, more yay!!

20130924-231519.jpg

Jargon Busting No. 26 – Predictive Text

Many early mobile phones came with built predictive text to help make the tedious process of sending text messages and emails a little easier.  Using the phones number pad to scroll through individual letters to construct words was painful.  Predictive text was designed to save you time and keystrokes . The function would make word suggestions when you started typing a word, you could then select the suggested word or ignore it. 

Predictive text has been be replaced on many new smartphones with ‘autocorrect’. Autocorrect allows users to type words that are then automatically corrected, to either correct poor spelling or to more popular words, this can be both very useful and very annoying. 

This autocorrect function has lead to what is becoming a popular phrase ‘damn you autocorrect’, which is what you shout when you accidentally send a text message with a word that has been autocorrected to something completely wrong and usually inappropriate.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet people have shared their ‘damn you autocorrect’ moments and they can be very rude but they are usually very funny. 

www.damnyouautocorrect.com

Image

Jargon Busting No. 10 – Smartphone

Image

This week I delivered 2 training sessions at Adelaide Digital Hub, both sessions were for people who were very new to the internet and technology. Doing these kinds of education sessions reminds me that not everyone speaks the geeky language that I do. I was chatting away about ‘smartphones’ when one of the students asked a great question. 

What makes a mobile phone a smartphone?

As is often the case the internet offers up many different definitions depending on which website you read. The definition I gave during the training session and will repeat here is a smartphone is a device that can make phone call and can access the internet and run applications.

The brick sized mobile phones used in the early days of the technology did not access the internet, to be honest they were rarely able to make phone calls.  Then mobile phones began to get smaller and smarter. Whilst there were many phones that could access the internet the cost of the data was so prohibitively expensive that most people rarely ventured online using their mobile phone. The other problem was the size and quality of the screen, they were small and basically rubbish. It wasn’t until the Blackberry and finally the iPhone that smartphones became generally affordable and actually usable. 

Smartphones not only access the internet,  they can send and receive emails and run applications that do specific tasks. The popularity was also helped by mobile phone companies making the cost of data more affordable over time. The improvements in the technology and the lowering of the cost helped make smartphones accessible to more and more people. 

survey done by Department Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy in 2012 of 3000 mobile phone owners, found 76% of respondents had a smartphone.  A different survey found as of February this year, almost half the Australian population have a smartphone. The same research found 9.2 million Australians went online via their mobile phone and 4.4 million accessed the internet using a tablet in the six months to May 2012.

So it’s easy to see that we Australians love our smartphones, and the numbers are only growing. I believe their popularity is in no small part of their ease of use. The most popular smartphones can be used with relatively little instruction by a novice and really that is what makes any piece of technology popular, it’s easy to use and it does something useful (or at least entertaining). 

image credit: “an evening playing ‘smartphone’ pub quiz with the exeter twitterati!” philcampbell, flickr.com