Are You Smarter Than an iPhone?

Originally published July 14, 2011.

I know I said I’d never do it, but I did it. I finally did it. I bought a smart phone. It’s not what hello-world-iphoneyou think. I haven’t compromised my integrity. My smart phone boycott was not grounded in ethics or principles or politics or anything like that. Droids, iPhones, Blackberries, all of them make me nervous. Appliances are not supposed to be smarter than human beings. They’re just not. Frankly, the idea that a phone might be smarter than me is downright frightening.

Phones and fifth graders are not the only things getting smarter nowadays. Washing machines are smarter, too. They sense when items of different weights and textures are combined into the same load (for example towels with t-shirts or blue jeans with boxers and panties). When this happens they become unbalanced as they agitate, or perhaps it’s that they become agitated at being unbalanced. In any case, this is ostensibly what caused my friend’s brand new state-of-the-art front loader to “dance” across the laundry room during the spin cycle.

She called a “certified” repairman who balanced the thing and gave her his “certified” opinion: if she didn’t want it to happen again she’d better update her clothes sorting technique. It’s not just about whites and colors anymore. Like items with like items. I am not kidding. Certified? Sounds more certifiable, if you ask me.

If that were my washing machine, you know what I would say? I’d say, “Okay, Mr. Washing Machine, if you’re smart enough to know the difference between a pair of socks and a pair of blue jeans, you’re darn well smart enough to figure out how to keep your balance, thank you very much. Who’s the smart one now? Yeah, I’m talking to you, big guy.’’

My toaster thinks it’s smarter than me, but it’s not. It’s one of those four slice jobs, with slots designated for specific food items. One slot is for bagels, one is for frozen bagels, one slot is for toast, and one is for frozen toast. What happens if you want an English muffin? Or a waffle? What then? I’ll tell you what. You find yourself another toaster, that’s what.

That fancy schmancy Mensa toaster is not made for English muffins or waffles, and do you want to know how I know? They burn. Yep, they do. Drop an English muffin or a waffle into a slot designated for toast or bagels, frozen or thawed, and it’ll burn every time. Don’t even get me started on Hot Pockets

And another thing. That toaster is plotting something. It stares at me when it thinks I’m not looking and I am sick of it. I unplugged that thing and stuffed it in a cupboard. Take that, Mr. Smarty-Pants Toaster with your specialized four slots. Ha! Not so smart anymore, are ya?

I never felt my iPhone-free life was incomplete until I heard about RunPee. RunPee is the app“dedicated to analyzing movies and working out the precise minute for you to annoy the other 12 people in your row, scuttle off to the restroom, release your lager, and return without missing any significant part of the plot.”

Shut up! That is GENIOUS!

All sorts of thoughts popped into my head when I first heard about RunPee. Things like, What will they think of next? and Why didn’t I think of that? But, Hmmm…if I had an iPhone, I’d buy RunPee in a heartbeat, is the last thought I recall pulsating through my brain before I woke up to find myself exiting the Verizon store with a bag in one hand and a two-year wireless contract (complete with data package) in the other. That, my friends, is how I ended up trading my simple little Samsung flip for the summa cum laude of all smart phones (drumroll, please)…the iPhone 4.

I’m pretty confident that I come out on top when I match wits with my washing machine and my toaster. The thing is, I’m afraid I must concede that my iPhone is indeed cleverer than I. Go ahead and laugh, but tell me this. When was the last time you excused yourself to visit the bathroom during a movie and upon returning to your seat, did not need to whisper to the your viewing companion, “What did I miss?’’

I know I said I’d never do it, but I did it. I finally did it. I bought an iPhone. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to RunPee.

Updated note: According to Dan Florio, the self-proclaimed Grandpoobah of RunPee – a.k.a. creator – RunPee has temporarily been removed from the iPhone app marketplace and is expected to be available again in early July. Until then, visit from your iPhone browser. You may sign up to receive email notification when RunPee is available at
Copyright © 2011 by Antoinette Datoc All Rights Reserved