Valley Voices

Millions of apps in my iPad and now, where do I stop?

Jim Doyle has an iPad mini and it’s fascinating him with its tricks.
Jim Doyle has an iPad mini and it’s fascinating him with its tricks. The Fresno Bee file

My wife bought an iPhone awhile back and as part of the deal, they threw in an iPad Mini for her husband, who believes the telephone is the single worst invasion of privacy ever devised.

The phone rings at dinner, while you’re asleep, in the shower, on the pot, out back, in the garage, next door. Cell phones allowed you to take the telemarketer, survey taker, scam artist, or worse, someone from Publisher’s Clearing House. No escape.

Now, smartphones take it to a vastly different level. It knows where you are, can find your friends, provide you with an up to the minute bus schedule, access the Library of Congress in full motion HD video, and act as a lighted and magnified makeup mirror, for those of you who just can’t do it in the rear-view mirror at 35 miles an hour in traffic.

Apps. I think that’s short for “applications” but I could be wrong. There are apps for everything from kids’ games to photo processing. Map making to event planning and even an electronic spirit level. You can plot the planets and visualize the stars, use the Richter scale to determine the intensity of family discussions, and send money to your friends and pay bills.

It’s a constellation of amazing, unique, playful, useful bunches of ohs and ones that have their own language, translatable through a little representative photo, or “icon” on the screen.

The mini iPad does everything the iPhone does, except it’s not a telephone. I like that part. It’s a little larger and heavier than the iPhone, but then I don’t intend to stick it in my pocket or walk into traffic while staring down at it.

You can virtually (that’s what almost everything is now, virtual) get rid of your music on all conventional formats, 45 rpm, CDs, vinyl albums, eight-track tapes, and download them onto your device. The sound reproduction is pretty damn good for a little thingamajig that is about the size of the Soap Opera Digest.

Remember those great album covers from the ’60s? They don’t reproduce well on a screen the size of a business card, but you can carry the equivalent of 33 linear feet of vinyl LP albums, 4,908 CDs, and 5,280 feet of reel-to-reel tape on your smartphone or pad. And you still have room for every photograph in the assembled collection of Fresno High School yearbooks going back to 1889.

The photos these things take are comparable to many DSLR cameras, and entire movies have been “filmed” on iPhones. Take a photo, download the appropriate app, and you can turn your photo into a cartoon, or a poster, or a jigsaw puzzle.

Who woulda thunk, back when you learned how to call Information, 1-1-3, on that single, black, rotary dial phone in the hallway niche, with a Telephone Directory in the cubby beneath, that only a few decades later, you would be able to order food, drugs, books, home appliances, and monitor your front door from the deck of your son’s home in Topeka on your smartphone?

There are 2 million apps in the Apple Store alone. Another three million in Google. New apps are released every day intended to smooth your work flow, proof read your documents, turn a photograph of your kid into a 3-D relief, or to share your schedule with everyone else who works in, near, or without you.

You can organize flash mobs, check your credit score, download Martha’s latest blueberry scone recipe, and do a background check on your 16-year-old daughter’s prom date.

A real lifesaver is the feature that allows you to be live, face-to-face with your family. My niece was married three weeks ago in London, Ontario, Canada. Because of some health issues we were unable to attend, but through advances in the magic of invasion of privacy technology, we were able to “attend” and watch the ceremony from start to finish. The technology is truly amazing.

The only limits as to what kind of apps can be developed will be the limits on imagination.

Now, if someone develops an app for a colonoscopy cleanse, the world will beat a path to your door and make you rich beyond your dreams.

Jim Doyle of Fresno is a freelance writer and a veterans advocate.

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