Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Not-So-Smart Phones

Designers of smart phones have gone a step too far.

That's my conclusion after having a couple of experiences with phones that text their own messages, apparently unbidden. Have you ever seen this phenomenon?

The other day, before I turned over the job of sub coordinator to my successor, I was trying to contact a substitute teacher who was working in school. I sent a text to his phone, and got an immediate reply: "I'm at the cinema."

That seemed weird, because it was 10 a.m. and he was supposed to be in school, teaching a class in 15 minutes! I texted back, "Oh, sorry, but aren't you supposed to be teaching this morning?"

He wrote back that he was on his way, and minutes later he was indeed in class. I was mystified. Did he have a Star Trek transporter in his pocket?

The same thing happened the next day. I texted him, and received an immediate reply: "I'm driving."

That also seemed weird, because I was pretty sure this sub didn't have a car.

The next time I talked to him, I asked about these peculiar texts. He laughed and said his phone does that all the time. In fact he had been neither at the cinema nor driving -- he'd been trying to pull his phone out of his pocket, and it sent those texts seemingly by itself.

I wrote this off as a peculiarity of either his phone or his cell provider. And then the same thing happened to Dave.

The other day he e-mailed a real estate agent about an available apartment. The agent texted back, and Dave's phone shot back a response: "Can't talk now. What's up?"

We didn't realize he'd responded that way until later, when we were sitting in a pub and looked at his phone. We laughed about the idiocy of that response. Who says they can't talk and then asks the other person to continue the conversation?

Maybe Dave, in trying to check his phone, hit a button or a certain combination of buttons that fired off that text. I suspect that's what the sub did, too. But seriously, someone needs to make it harder to do that kind of thing.

The real estate agent has not yet written back!

(Photos: A colorful doorway in Ladbroke Grove, and a close-up of the poster on the wall. Poor Kujo!)


  1. Ugh. I hope my phone isn't doing the same thing unknown to me! How absolutely inconvenient. Can you text the real estate agent again?

  2. There are auto text replies, but you have to switch them on, something maybe he did inadvertently.

    The phones really are smart. Smarter than us, sometimes. The learning curve is steep but worth the attempt because pretty soon we'll do everything with our iPhones.

  3. Okay. I never heard of that. Too weird.

  4. Glad I still have my little flip phone.

  5. That made me laugh! I don't think my phone has done any of that yet but, I have noticed that if my phone rings and I can't answer it and I press the silence button, a set of messages pop up with options like "I can't talk right now" or "I'll call you later". There are about 4 options. I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with those or what happens if I press one of them.

  6. How funny but annoying at the same time! I've not heard of that before.

    Love that colorful doorway. Those are colors you would see together in Mexico!

  7. How bizarre! I'm sure I'll end up doing that sometime - I only half know what I'm doing on this thing.

  8. I can set my smartphone so that it automatically silences itself when I have something scheduled on my calendar, which is HUGELY helpful since I don't have to remember to mute my phone during class. When I enabled this feature, there was also the option to have the phone send a text saying "I'm busy" if anyone called during such times.

    My phone also has an option to silence the phone whenever the phone detects via GPS that it's moving fast enough to suggest I'm driving. I turned that off since I never answer my phone if it rings when I'm driving, but sometimes I DO answer it if I'm on the trolley. With that feature, too, you could set it up so that the phone automatically sent a text in response to incoming calls saying "I'm driving, so call me back."

    All these automatic features are both helpful and creepy. It took me the first few weeks of having a smartphone to figure out how to tweak the settings so it gives me the alerts I want without seeming too "Big Brother-ish."