ADVICE

The phone is smart. How smart is the user?

'Most people are not masters of their own phone.'

Posted 5/14/12

Have you noticed the shift in human focus and concentration?

Sitting in the lobby of the Public Hotel in Chicago, there are about 50 people sitting and milling around, engaged in some form of interaction – primarily with themselves.

Oh, there are others with them, but these people are head down on their phones. I’m sure you have both seen them and been one of them.

Maybe you’re even reading this on your mobile device right now!

Guidelines of phone use have significantly changed because of technology availability. Five years ago (before the launch of the game-changing iPhone), all you could do on a phone was send and receive calls – and painfully text. Remember your early texts – a-b-c-(oh crap)-2. That was a technological EON ago.

Cellular phones are smart these days. Most of the time, they’re smarter than their user. They are as much “app” driven, as they are talk and text. If you include email and the Internet in general, your calendar, Facebook and other social media apps, Google and other search engines, news and other of-the-moment information, Instagram and other photo apps, your camera, music, movies, “Angry Birds,” “Scrabble,” and other games, Foursquare, Paypal and of course the ubiquitous Amazon (where you can buy anything in a heartbeat, and read any book ever written), you at once realize your phone or tablet has become your dominant communication device – and it’s only an infant in its evolution.

Voice recognition is the next big breakthrough.

Most people are not masters of their own phone. They use programs they need, and rarely explore new ones, unless recommended by a friend. (Think about how you found many of the apps you use.)

If you’re seeking mastery of your device, here are the fundamental how-tos:

• How to use it mechanically. (Not just on and off.) Your phone holds technological mysteries and magic that can make your hours pay higher dividends once you master them.

• How to use it mannerly. The “when” and “how loud” are vital to your perceived image. See some more rules and guidelines below.

• How to use it to enhance communication. Texting is the new black. Data transmission now exceeds voice transmission – by a lot. Emailing a customer? How do they perceive you when they read it? Is it “C U L8r” or “See you later”? Is it “LMK” or “let me know”? You tell me. I don’t abbreviate. My mother would have never approved.

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