Dan Mackie: iPhone Market Matures

Saturday, September 21, 2013
Although people no longer treat the announcement of new iPhones as earth shattering, it’s still pretty big news. As in, all things shall be born anew!

Technology hysteria has replaced the religious revivals that once swept across the land. No more waiting for the End of Days, just the end of cell phone contracts.

What’s being drowned out in this latest Geek Awakening is the fact that Apple, in an effort to expand the iPhone market, will soon be turning to an overlooked demographic: the over, gulp, 60 crowd. (I say gulp because I have of late joined them.)

My sources tell me that Apple and their busy app makers are developing new programs and hardware to make iPhones senior-friendly. The generation that made surfing cool and bell bottom jeans groovy is going to get a phone of its own.

The iPhone Boomer is still in top secret development, but some details have been leaked by renegade hacker elements of the AARP. Among them:

∎ A new app, named iForget, will monitor the user’s conversations, ready to whisper details or names that are on the tip of the tongue but are blocked by balky synapses. If you refer to “the skipper on McHale’s Navy,’’ and the phone senses an awkward pause, it will whisper “Ernest Borgnine,’’ into a tiny bluetooth receiver in your ear. That’s available in the free basic version; deep knowledge, such as the name of the actor who played Capt. Binghamton, requires purchasing the $4.99 full version.

∎ Hard-wired into the iPhone Boomer is “I’ve Heard That Story,’’which makes the phone discreetly vibrate to warn you when you tell your grown children again about how you almost went to Altamont, the night you saw Larry Bird drop 48 against the Knicks, or how you drove Route 66 in a hot little Mustang that you traded in for a station wagon when their mother got pregnant.

∎ Another app, Pop Culture Alert, will help you avoid looking befuddled when a major pop culture event occurs. Yes, it’s embarrassing to have to ask, “What’s twerking,’’ when you know that everyone from Henry Kissinger to that old guy who used to be on oatmeal commercials, Wilford Brimley, knows that twerking refers to a raunchy little dance move that Miley Cyrus did at the MTV music awards, probably after you went to bed.

∎ Siri, the iPhone “personal assistant,’’ is being fine tuned to respond to mature needs. Just mutter, “How can they expect anybody to read this,’’ and Siri will increase the type size.

∎ For those who are particularly nostalgic, Siri’s voice can be changed from the default female voice to that of the dudes who made announcements at the Woodstock Music Festival. You’ll get a daily warning to avoid the brown acid, and to remember your meds.

∎ The Walter Mondale Sleep Solution is an app that will help you fall asleep faster for better rest. Listening to the earnest but unexciting former vice president’s speeches will launch you to dreamland — no one has made it past the five-minute mark of his signature address on Pan-American cooperation.

∎ Third party vendors are also getting into the act. One will soon release an iPhone charging station that looks just like the crank wall phone the Martins used to call Jenny the phone operator when Lassie the wonder collie alerted them to danger.

Jenny was sort of like Siri, in that she was ever helpful and available, back in the days of full employment.

And Lassie predated the iPhone, with certain limitations. Lassie would run for help if you fell into an old well, but she couldn’t give GPS coordinates and wasn’t exactly a font of general information. I don’t think she could bark out Ernest Borgnine’s name, for instance.

Back then, we didn’t expect quite as much from man’s best friend.

The writer can be reached at dmackie@vnews.com.