iBo; or, do iPhones dream of actual sheep?

Yesterday was my last day as an Android user. I have given unabashedly in to what I can only term to be iLove, which I can only imagine will in time be followed by iEngagement and iWedding and iMarriage.

Though I’ll bet the stats for iDivorce aren’t nearly as high as the U.S. standard +/- 50%.

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. Or, iDigress.

Back in June of 2007 I rocked a Motorola CRZR knock-off. It was…considerably less than sweet. All I used it for, though, was calling and this new thing I’d recently found called text messaging. I knew a few people who kept music on their phones, but these people were insane in my humble opinion. Forget that they could only keep around 100 songs and that the music players were about as cumbersome as a petrified club and that they sounded like a miniature diarrhetic sperm whale. Few things in my life had cemented my embrasure of technological advancement more than my 30GB Video iPod, purchased in 2005. It was slim. It was efficient. It was lovely. And it held all of my music. All of it. It’s hard to explain precisely how that affected me. It had something to do with liberation, that if I was walking home and I saw something that called a song to mind, I could listen to it. Right then. If a mood struck me at work, I didn’t have to limit its expression by which CDs I’d brought to work that day. It was incredibly freeing.

Why anyone would use anything less to listen to music was beyond me.

So when the iPhone debuted that month, I didn’t care that much. It wasn’t just that, to my mind, a phone and a music player different devices. What I felt for my iPod really was something like love. It had gotten me through a pretty rough patch in the very recent past and the thought of tossing it aside saddened me in exactly the same way that losing friends has saddened me.

But okay. So this is crazy talk, right? It’s a device. It’s just some wires and parts and a screen. This talk of fidelity doesn’t belong in this context.

Does it?

You can – and should – answer that for yourself. For my part, I’ll say that the Buddhist precepts that are the closest thing to religion I follow allow for the minuscule distinction I see between me and my iPod. In fact, we are made of the same substance, both of us being just light slowed way down. This is as true of the tree and the friend as it is of my iPod.

But again. That’s a question for you to answer. The above applies to me and isn’t meant in any way to be prescriptive.

A few years later, having gotten hip to the smartphone thing and poised with an available upgrade, I didn’t even think about getting an iPhone. The Black Bard was still doing what I asked him to do, was still the device I made sure I always had on me. And Android is a Google product. At that point, Google impacted my life on a daily basis in a much broader fashion than Apple. Yes, I listened to and iLoved my iPod, but I used Google for email, blogging, documents, chat…enough things that it made complete sense to try out an Android phone.

So I did. And I liked it. A lot. For a while.

Then, just like every Windows computer I’ve ever had, it started doing just random things from time to time. It stopped telling me when I had new text messages for a while. It started randomly logging me out of my Google accounts. There were other things, but what it all amounted to is a constant sense of me v. my device.

That line, that distinction between my and my Droid, widened.

And then I noticed that the Bard was slowly dying. It just wouldn’t hold a charge anymore for more than about a day, whether I listened to it or not. I was very sad, and out of lack of options more than anything else, I started using my Motorola Droid to listen to music. And I’ll admit it wasn’t long before I thought you know what? having one device for pretty much everything is really convenient. I began to forgive it for its transgressions, like the morning I woke to discover it had deleted all of my alarms. I began to think well…I am asking a lot of it….

That sense of me v. my device was still there, though, like a Facebook friend you can’t quite dump.

Now, though, I sometimes thought about getting an iPhone. For the first time I connected the years of more-or-less trouble-free interactions I’d had with my iPod with the troubles my Droid was giving me on a near-daily basis. For so long these two devices had such different purposes in my mind that I never compared them. Now I was…and it wasn’t favorable for Android.

But what killed my loyalty to Android was that Ashley wanted to go wedding-dress shopping. And that she’d bought an iPad just an hour earlier. I won’t go into why we bought one since it doesn’t matter here. What matters is that since I couldn’t be involved in shopping for her wedding dress – superstitions are as superstitions do – I asked her if I could use her new iPad to do some of my own homework. I went to Starbucks to steal some Wi-Fi and in three hours I managed to finish the articles I needed to read for class. And annotate them. And take notes. Three hours that would have been more-or-less wasted by wandering around shops while she tried on dresses at the bridal store were, instead, made into one of the most productive three hours I’ve ever experienced.

Thanks to the iPad.

From that moment forth I began to really pay attention to how well the iPad functions and how much I could do with it. I’d previously thought iPads to be completely extraneous – and they are. But that’s not the point here. The more I used the iPad the more I noticed the distinction between interfacing with a device and interacting with one. You and I can interface: we can have some type of exchange mediated by some type of distance or barrier. Or we can interact: remove the barrier.

It was then I realized that my love of the Black Bard was about more than just music.

My Android phone was nothing but a phone. Something I used. It never seemed as though it were sleeping; rather, if just seemed switched off. Disconnected. It was never a friend to me; I never named it.  Whereas the iPad with is something I work with. That line between me and the device is as nil as can be. We can explore reasons for that another time, but I can sum it up this way:

The same gesture on an iDevice and an Android device – swiping the screen with a finger, one of the most basic and frequent things you’ll do with a touchscreen phone – yields small but distinctly different results. On an Android phone, as much as three seconds may pass before anything happens. On an iPhone, the screen moves. Right away. As though it were just napping while it waited for you.

Yesterday was my last day as an Android user.

Friends, I’d like you to meet my iPhone, Amie.

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