Those who use an iphone will agree that it is indeed very suitably named! It is an iPhone., not an usPhone, not a wePhone, not an ourPhone, - it's an iPhone and that means it is MY phone. "I don’t know why it is, but my phone is never an arm’s length way from me, even when I'm sleeping," according to wife and mother, Jennifer Fellani.
Like her husband Ben, she uses her smartphone today in ways that she could never have imagined. This is all due to the availability of so many kinds of smart-phone apps that are becoming the life guidance tool for millions of people worldwide. And whether we use an iPhone or any of the many Android phones available today, people now download apps and use them to steer their way through life– communicating and finding information in many different spheres. Shopping, dating, playing, reading, learning and much more is now available at our fingertips.
Every morning, Jennifer awakens to the sounds of her favorite music app which is set as her wake-up alarm! She stretches on the bed as she checks her phone, (not that there were any calls during the night), but soon it will be breakfast time and one of her informative diet-food apps will tell her what’s on the menu today. Before heading to the shower, she peeps in on her children and decides not to waken them yet. She inspects her sleep-cycle app and is impressed with her patterns of rest, all of which had been monitored throughout the night.
First, it’s time for a morning shower. On pulling back the curtains, she sees that it’s raining outside, but the weather app can wait until breakfast to confirm her hopes that she won’t need an umbrella later in the day.
Disturbed by a message bleep, she returns to check her phone but it’s nothing important, just a few Facebook pictures from last night’s evening meal. Oh, and what’s this, a reminder of the parent teacher meeting in the evening for little Mark. “Gosh, I completely forgot about that,” she thought to herself. Even the school is now connecting with her world first thing in the morning!
Soon, she’s ready to head out the door and face a busy day. Mark tags along, school bag over his shoulder, tie undone as he approaches the school entrance. Back on schedule! With the traffic heavy, Jennifer flicks to Spotify and her music app offer a few relaxing tracks.
As she cuts a few corners on her way to the office her iPhone calendar app vibrates with a gentle reminder of what lies ahead this day. Dozens of apps on her phone are there to serve a different purpose. There’s Shoplist for the grocery lists, Steps for calculating daily steps for fitness reasons, one for Lloyd’s Bank and another Navigon for directions. WhatsApp, is in regular use to keep in touch with her friends by text and along with all the other icons on her busy screen is the St Paul’s Cabra school crest with its app keeping her updated on all that is happening in Mark’s place. Everything is on the one device.
Jennifer muses on how things have changed in her life regarding technology and the like. “I was always used to my PC and the big screen that sits on my desk. I never thought for a moment that when I got my smart phone, I would conduct most of my business here.” She tells me this whilst tossing her phone in the palm of her hand and it pings again.
“Car parking arrangements for this evening’s parent-teacher meeting,” read the alert on her screen. On tapping it, she saw the car park plan in full and the pathways to follow on the night. "I remember back to when I was not so sure if I should invest in a smartphone but I have now had two in the space of four years. I started with a Samsung (Android) and now I use an Apple iPhone. Both are excellent but I was really hesitant at the start. Today, my phone is just there and I rely on it for nearly all my communications.”
Jennifer is no different to the millions worldwide who depend on their pocket-sized technological devices to shop, play, text, read, discover, train, date, take photos, and seek directions. The smart phone apps continue to drive a revolution in the world of computers.
The app-tracking firm Flurry informs us that smart phones and tablets have been received by clients across the globe at an alarming rate comparable to that of personal computers forty years ago. It was around 2008, when Apple flung open its online App Store, (a marketplace for programmers to sell their self-created mobile apps). With measures in place to protect its brand, Apple demanded that each app be submitted for review but the scope was still wide.
Programmers familiar with coding for iphone and android devices could use to their advantage, tools personal computers could only dream of having: touch screens, cameras, compasses, location tracking and cellular data connections, along with the fact that the user carries the device in their pocket.
Within time, apps were being released, related to nearly every need in a living day. “It never occurred to me that I could actually receive the school newsletter and letters from teachers or the headmaster directly on my iphone. Mark was forever losing letters that were sent home, they lay at the bottom of his school bag or were given to me a week or two after the event! Now I just get a notification alert on the screen of my phone and the letter is attached within the school-app. It means that I am not likely to lose it either and I have it there to refer to if needed.”
For nearly two years now, St Malachy’s Primary School, Castlewellan have required parents of each to download their school app. Many now have it on two or more devices. Frequently, messages are sent to parents via the app. These range from news on events, tasks for the week, instructions in cases of local roadworks, classroom activities or whole school policy updates. School principal Mr Maurice O’Neill commented “now that we use the app as our main communications tool with parents, it’s hard to imagine just how we did things before this technology became available.”
With an ever-increasing emphasis placed upon communication with parents, school branding and content ownership, using one’s own app in getting one’s messages delivered in real time is a trend that seems set to continue.
Some person's names have been changed in this article.