Are Phones Becoming Too Smart?


Smartphones are all the rage, in a good and a bad way. After much anticipation, the Google Phone, called Nexus One, is finally here. Joining the ranks of the iPhone, the Palm Pre, and others, it seems like everyone is getting one of these wonder-toys. The days are over when only a small percentage of business professionals used Blackberry devices -- the smartphone has officially invaded the mainstream.

Can we even call these things just phones anymore? Making phonecalls on them seems to be only one facet of their many uses. They allow people to send text messages and electronic mail. They function as GPS navigation units and photo/video cameras. They have countless apps from e-readers to games to translators to calculators. Most importantly, they are mini-computers, wirelessly connected to the Internet, and the Google Phone is arguably the epitome of smartphones as mobile online search engines.

For all the great things they can do, smartphones are not perfect. The miracle devices are tiny, so while it is convenient to be able to search and view clips from YouTube on palm-held devices, they still do not compete with high-definition large-screens. Their tiny sizes make them godsends in terms of portability, but also impractical for some work functions, which is why I don't see them replacing laptops or netbooks anytime soon. And, as with all electronic devices, power is still a big issue -- the electrical juice required to fully charge these touchscreen, full-color beauties is still a major concern. My Palm Pre, for example, still barely lasts a full day without having to be recharged.

Nevertheless, it is amazing how far they have come. The United States is finally catching up to some other countries where smartphones have long been embraced -- I always envied the folks overseas who could use their cellphones to buy products from vending machines.

I have all my email accounts, all my calendars, all my social networks linked on my smartphone now. I check the weather on my smartphone and use it to search for restaurants and theater schedules. I can update my blog from my smartphone and even remotely program my TiVo with it. I use it as an address book and as an organizer for all my meetings and daily activities.
Oh, yes, I also use it occasionally to make and receive phone calls.

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