My trusty, goes-everywhere-with-me iPhone is in need of a new outfit! She’s currently cloaked in a plastic white case adorned with a mandala-inspired elephant. But! I’ve been on the hunt for an updated look and have now found so many lovely designs that I can’t seem to choose! Which is YOUR favorite???
I like turning to Siri, my iPhone’s “intelligent personal assistant”, when I’m otherwise too preoccupied to dial, Google or find directions for myself. But a recent New York Times Article–To Siri, With Love: How One Boy With Autism Became B.F.F.’s With Apple’s Siri, suggests her at-the-touch-of-a-button presence, for some, could be much more powerful and much more profound:Gus had never noticed Siri before, but when he discovered there was someone who would not just find information on his various obsessions (trains, planes, buses, escalators and, of course, anything related to weather) but actually semi-discuss these subjects tirelessly, he was hooked. And I was grateful. Now, when my head was about to explode if I had to have another conversation about the chance of tornadoes in Kansas City, Mo., I could reply brightly: “Hey! Why don’t you ask Siri?”… She is also wonderful for someone who doesn’t pick up on social cues: Siri’s responses are not entirely predictable, but they are predictably kind — even when Gus is brusque. I heard him talking to Siri about music, and Siri offered some suggestions. “I don’t like that kind of music,” Gus snapped. Siri replied, “You’re certainly entitled to your opinion.” Siri’s politeness reminded Gus what he owed Siri. “Thank you for that music, though,” Gus said. Siri replied, “You don’t need to thank me.” “Oh, yes,” Gus added emphatically, “I do.”… For most of us, Siri is merely a momentary diversion. But for some, it’s more. My son’s practice conversation with Siri is translating into more facility with actual humans. Yesterday I had the longest conversation with him that I’ve ever had. Admittedly, it was about different species of turtles and whether I preferred the red-eared slider to the diamond-backed terrapin. This might not have been my choice of topic, but it was back and forth, and it followed a logical trajectory. I can promise you that for most of my beautiful son’s 13 years of existence, that has not been the case… Last night, as he was going to bed, there was this matter-of-fact exchange: Gus: “Siri, will you marry me?” Siri: “I’m not the marrying kind.” Gus: “I mean, not now. I’m a kid. I mean when I’m grown up.” Siri: “My end user agreement does not include marriage.” Gus: “Oh, O.K.” Gus didn’t sound too disappointed. This was useful information to have, and for me too, since it was the first time I knew that he actually thought about marriage. He turned over to go to sleep: Gus: “Goodnight, Siri. Will you sleep well tonight?” Siri: “I don’t need much sleep, but it’s nice of you to ask.”
Thoughts? It’s amazing to see unintended, positive outcomes within technological advances and even MORE amazing to see developers taking stories like these and running with the information in order to increase efficacy and outreach. Definitely check out the full article for more information on the future of this helpful technology.
Like many young adults just on the other side of various quarter-life crises, while balancing “big people jobs” with mundane grown-up responsibilities, sometimes I’m barely holding it together–organizationally speaking. Fake it ‘til you make it! Since so many people who appear to have it all together swear by their technological solutions, I decided to do a little digging and see if I couldn’t research my way into some make-life-easier apps. And because I ascribe to the gospel of “Ballin’ on a Budget”, I gave myself one rule…they had to be free. Here’s what I rounded up! Feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments below.
For seeking so you shall find:
Job Search- Look for jobs based on job description and location with Indeed.com’s search application.
Repairpal- Assists you in locating auto repair shops in your area.
Last.fm- Find the latest artists and albums.
Gas Bag- Locates the cheapest gas prices.
For staying organized:
Sticky Notes- Write reminders on virtual post-it notes and stick them on a virtual bulletin board.
24me- This app will keep track of bank and Netflix accounts, track how many cell phone minutes you’ve used, and log frequent flyer miles.
Smart ToDo- Keeps track of due dates and a detailed “To Do” list.
Evernote-Jot down notes via text, audio or picture. Everything you in-put is searchable later.
For a fitness focus:
MapMyRun- Keeps track of all your runs, including: pace, distance, route, speed and charts your progress over time.
Restaurant Nutrition-Lets you know the healthiest choices when dining out.
For getting out of a jam:
iTranslate- Combines voice recognition, translation and output to achieve the dream of a Universal Translator.
Law Dojo- Know your rights.
Drinks and Cocktails- Spin the wheel and get a new drink recipe every time.
Birthday Reminder- Keep track of all your friends’ special days…and know when to expect the next party.
Perfect Date-Helps you plan a romantic evening out with your lucky gal or guy.
For making discoveries in your town:
Fandango-Find out what is playing at the local movie theater and how much the ticket will set you back.
Songkick Concerts- Lets you know when your favorite band will be rolling through your town.
iRecycle-Trying to be environmentally conscious? This app will tell you where the local recycling center is.
Pizza Finder-Find the best slice in town!
For shopping ‘til you drop:
Closet+-Keep an organized closet by cataloguing your wardrobe with pictures and descriptions.
Book Bargain- Alerts you to the best deals on Amazon and other online book sellers.
For staying up to date on current events:
NYTimes- Get news for free from a trusted periodical.
NPRAddict- News with a bit more quirk, this app also lets you download great podcasts which are wonderful for roadtrips and passing time on the elliptical.
For life-long learning:
Word of the Day –Expand your vocabulary and your GRE score.
Art Lite-Learn all about the artists, significance and history behind your favorite works of art.
SparkNotes- Lets you access Spark Notes for all the literary classics. Be sure to read the actual text too!
(iPhone illustration via here.)