I downloaded my first app today. This has come about three weeks into owning my Samsung Galaxy II Skyrocket "smartphone". It came complete with 4G and LTE technology for "lightning fast" use. I soon found out, though, that my provider, AT&T, doesn't at the moment have a huge network of 4G cell towers in the Seattle area. Oh, and the "lightning fast" LTE technology? Well, that's not even available yet. Now, I've heard about taking products out for a beta test drive but this is ridiculous. Talk about over-hype and over selling. Oh well, I've got it now, and I'm not about to let them take 35 of my hard-earned bucks for a "re-stock" fee just for the pleasure of returning it.
I've been living up 'til now in that fertile plot of mobile phoneland known as BlackBerry. The company that owns it, Research In Motion, has tanked as of late. With only 10% of the market share, they've got a new CEO who has big plans to revitalize their interest in this very competitive field. My Skyrocket operates with Google's Android software, and much of the gizmo's inner workings are based on Google's ever-expanding pallet of . . . apps. So, if you want one of these and have it be fully functional, you're gonna have to give up your heart and soul to a Google account.
Also, everything's app driven. Mine came with a number of default programs already loaded. But, while the BlackBerry comes ready to use as a phone, I'm going to have to download an app to enable voice dialing. Ultimately, I guess the Skyrocket is more of a hand-held, multi-functional computer that doubles as a phone instead of the other way around.
Why did I buy one in the first place, you might ask? Well, the story's longer than I care to relate here on a MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD blog post, but I can tell you that my wife played a major part in it. Don't get me wrong -- I'm not blaming her -- just that she had a lot to do with the 400 dollar purchase of two phones that retail for over a thousand. Plus, I think I'm starting to like it.
Anyway, I was taking a look at the latest UK horror 'zine, SCREAM, when I spotted one of those increasingly familiar pixelated Rohrshach squares that seem to be popping up all over the place these days on an ad for a free horror app. So, I launched the pre-loaded app that allows me to read these things, lined the viewfinder up with the image on the magazine and clicked away. The screen prompt asked me if I wanted to either go to the app's website or the "market" folder on my smartphone. It was then that the singular thought occurred to me that I could have just gone to the website in the first place. For that I could have used the really cool Google voice-activated search app to go to the website (that's not entirely correct -- it will prompt you to click "yes" to go to the website if it's recognized your voice command properly).
I'm not a techno fuddy-duddy, and while the app itself doesn't exactly blow my skirt up, I can see these things have promise, and I can't honestly judge the concept without first trying out a few. This one was free, but a lot of them you have to pay for.
This all has got me wondering about the use of apps when it comes to my beloved monster 'zines. I know RUE MORGUE's got one, but I'll have to check -- I recall it only being available for iPhones. I have downloaded some of their RUE MORGUE RADIO shows on mp3. Those are fun to listen to with the Skyrocket's ample built-in speaker.
Samsung is known for their marvelous screen displays, and I have to say that the MONSTER MAGAZINE WORLD blog looks pretty good on the Skyrocket, which has a screensize that's about 2 1/2 times the size of my BlackBerry's.
More and more I think you'll see this market forcing down our throats stuff that we think we need. Some of it's really cool and some of it is a big WTF. I also think that exclusively digital monster magazine content -- that is, monster 'zines that will someday only be available on smartphones -- is a long way away. I won't be surprised, though, to see the envelope being pushed from now on. Kindles, Nooks, and tablets are all the latest craze, offering the user the ability to read and browse content like never before. Frankly, I'm thinking how much is enough? It has me wondering about the phrase that Jeff Goldblum so sagely put in the film, JURASSIC PARK, that goes something like: "Maybe it's better to think about why we should have instead of that we could." Somehow I don't think that advice carries much weight with technology.
In the meantime, I'll still be pining a bit for my BlackBerry, sitting quietly in its holster and waiting for me to reactivate it. But, as I said, I'm beginning to like my 4G, LTE Samsung Skyrocket running on Google's Android. And, in order to fully answer the question as to these so-called "smartphones" being as "smart" as they say they are, I guess I'll have to buy another app that will tell me that.