Of late, I've been a bit distracted by two new pieces of technology that have entered my life. The first is a new iPhone. The second is Apple's new iPhoto application. Both are mesmerizing and moderately addicting in their own way.
First, there's the iPhone, which is quite simply the coolest piece of consumer electronics I've ever relied on. I wish I could say "coolest I've ever owned" but it's come into my possession courtesy of my employer, replacing a battered, quirky, and not altogether reliable Treo with Windows Mobile, but that's OK because it also means my employer is picking up the tab on the airtime bill.
First, it's seamless in its interaction with business applications at work. Only 30 seconds after I started keying in my account info, it was syncing e-mail, my calendars, my contacts, everything I need for day to day business. What a change from my Treo, which needed to pass data through two or three applications to get info from my Mac laptop into the phone. It's no wonder it managed to blow away my entire calendar twice in the space of two weeks.
Just days before my iPhone arrived, a reporter and editor I know told me, "it changes the way you work forever" and he was right. It's the first cell phone I've ever had that I wish more people would call so I'd have more excuses to use it. I can see why Bill Gates won't let his wife get an iPhone. Like the iPod did for my brother-in-law, it would immediately convert her to the ranks of Apple lovers.
Hypnotic is another way to describe the iPhone. The interface is brilliant, the applications available for it range from incredibly slick (the seamless interface between maps, navigation, and contact information) to the ultra dorky (look Ma, my phone can double as a digital level ideal for straightening the picture frames you have hanging on the wall!) to the "I don't know if this has any redeeming value but it's great for passing 90 seconds while waiting for the next meeting to start" (ummm...that would be either Pocket God or Bubble Wrap, hands down).
And then there's iPhoto, which is hypnotic in an entirely different way. The new version offers all the same features as previous iterations but also brings with it one major new twist...facial recognition. With a few clicks, you train iPhoto to recognize friends, family, co-workers, and anyone else showing up in your photos. Suddenly, it's incredibly easy to see every digital photo I've taken of my nieces, of my grandmother, or anyone else in the photos (though it does get confused by babies (but who doesn't) and once thought that some tree bark was my father-in-law, a situation easily remedied. And no, I haven't tried it on our cats yet.
As my wife watched HBO's In Treatment this evening, I instead spent 90 minutes or more adding face after face to iPhoto's memory, patiently telling it when it was right and when it was wrong. I just couldn't stop. Even now, I'm twitching a bit because I know there are people in my photo archives who I haven't identified yet or fully refined in the facial recognition system.
And you know what's really scary? I'm pretty sure the iPhone plays well with iPhoto. Somebody stop me before I geek again! Woohoo!