Monday, September 23, 2013

Why I like my smartphone

When I gave birth to L., I had a pre-smartphone. Not like the ones out there today. It made calls, sent texts and photos, but to get on the internet, I had to literally go to the browser and type in my destination, like Facebook or my email. From there, I would have to login or, sometimes if the phone was feeling particularly generous, it would remember me, though it rarely did.

I was comfortable with the phone and the basic touch screen. The keyboard slid out and had actual buttons, which I loved. I uploaded photos of L. to Facebook if I had time but, mostly, used the digital camera to take the majority of photos of her for social media.

Then I got an iPhone. And, I am not exaggerating when I say my life was changed. And even today, there is a feeling of nakedness when I go anywhere without my phone.

First day of hockey season and, since L. couldn't be
there with us, I used my phone to make sure
her New York Rangers pajamas were seen.



Now, before judgmental parenting experts roll their eyes at yet another mom addicted to her phone or send me a link to Louis C.K.'s popular smartphone rant, here are some of the benefits of this nifty, pocket-sized device, which has pretty much served as a mother's helper in many ways.

Mommy Brain

You know the condition of which I speak. You walk into a room with a mission to do something or get something, only to get into the room and completely forget what it is. This began, for me, in pregnancy and would usually result in me crying over forgetting what it was. Or, as a remedy, I would repeat loudly what it was I was doing until the word, itself, had lost all meaning. "Toast! Toast! I am making toast! Toast!" Of course, I'd then forget I had put bread in the toaster and find it a day later, cold and stale.

Thanks to Siri and Reminders on my iPhone, I can press and hold the home button and say, "Remind me in two minutes I am making toast," and a reminder will be set.

I also like the newish feature added so I can remind myself to do something when I get to work or home because Siri knows my addresses for both.

I also like taking pictures of things I'll need to remember, like where I parked or screenshots of confirmation numbers on websites.

I've heard Evernote is a great app for reminders, as well. But I'm content with the Reminders on my iPhone, as well as using the Calendar and linking that with my email to set up quick appointments and reminders to pay bills as they come in through my email.

Camera/Instagram

I disliked Instagram before I had an iPhone. "Who would want square photos?" I would ask myself. Turns out, I did. I wanted them. I craved them. As soon as I got an iPhone, one of the first Apps I got was Instagram. I'm still surprised more people don't have it. I enjoy looking at my Instagram feed, containing Facebook friends, celebrities and even a few businesses I like much better than my feed on Facebook or Twitter. When Twitter didn't have Instagram previews anymore, that seemed to be when I really started losing interest in Twitter.

The instant ability to upload my pictures taken on my phone to social media, though, is great. L. does so many great things I love showing off and I would never have the digital camera when I seemed to want it the most. Having a decent camera (even though a lot of filters kill the quality of the photos) on my phone, which just happens to be with me at all times, has made capturing memories much easier.

Most of the photos I use on this site I've uploaded using the Blogger app, in fact. I don't have to worry about downloading a photo to the computer, labeling it, then uploading it to the website.

Apps for L.

Yes, yes, I know. Screen time limits for kids, blahdy, blahdy, blah. I get it. BUT, one day, you realize you're out of diapers and have to run to Target with a toddler who, by the way, will not sit in a grocery cart without screaming. And when you realize you can keep her entertained and provide a fun way to learn, you will hand over that phone to the toddler and hope like hell she doesn't drop it. Either that, or stand in line as she screams while other shoot the look of, "I pity you, but you're still disturbing me."

Also, invest in a durable case. I have a cheap one on now, but it's thick rubber and has helped the phone sustain plenty of falls.

Some of our favorite apps are Make It Pop! (It was $.99 when I got it and well worth it. It was the only App I ever actually paid for for about a year.), AlphaBaby Free and anything by Alligator Apps geared to her age.

Also, one of the best tips is to make the phone toddler-proof with the help of Guided Access in Settlings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access. With three clicks of my home button, I can disable certain parts of the screen, the volume buttons and the home button so when L. gets to play on my phone, I don't have to worry about her exiting her app and accidentally emailing my boss, which she has done somehow!

Connecting with others

Duh! What a phone is essentially for in the first place!

We FaceTime with L.'s dad and my dad and stepmom (my mom just has a basic cell phone and rarely uses her computer).

Photos of L. are sent back and forth between me and her dad and most of the time, it's easier and quicker to send a text about her than it would be to have a full conversation, which is hard to do while chasing a toddler anyway.

I've gotten pretty good at speaking clearly enough that talk-to-text is now my best friend and I don't have to worry about texting and driving. I even have the option of having Siri read received texts to me with Speak Selection in Settings > Accessibility > Speak Selection, which will bring up the option "Speak" when a passage is highlighted.

Miscellaneous

The apps for productivity, weight loss, money saving and entertainment are practically endless with smartphones. Basically, whenever I get into a new habit or find something I'm interested in, I end up hoping the clever catchphrase, "There's an app for that" really does ring true.