Blog Post

Learning to Love Technology: My Wife and the iPhone

As I think it goes with most geeks, our better half (yes as a matter of fact, some of us have girlfriends and wives!) usually isn’t the most technical of people.

My lovely wife can use a computer just fine, but she’s not the type of person who considers that technology can be leveraged to make her life easier — I guess that’s where I come in. So when I passed my original model iPhone down to her, it wasn’t received with the excitement that I would have hoped. A few months under her belt with the iPhone on her belt, she’s really getting into the concept that it makes her life easier.

As long as it could dial numbers and remember a couple of her regularly-called contacts, my wife didn’t care what the phone looked like or the functions it had. So when I bestowed my iPhone upon her, it lacked the fanfare that I would have hoped for. But I pressed forward and began to demonstrate some of the features that I thought would make taking care of the kids and the household and everything else in her busy life, as simple as remembering to bring the phone with her at all times. It wasn’t a smooth transition — there were some scratches and bruises (to my ego) — but these days, she actually loves her iPhone!

As a mother, and generally busy person running a household, these are some of the iPhone features that she loves and uses the most:

  • Games
    No, she’s not a gamer (though I have drawn her into the web that is Quordy), but out boys sure are! Waiting in lines, or for meals out, the many games I’ve downloaded have become a life saver. (Though also a battery drainer, as they sometimes disappear with the iPhone at home and we later find the phone dead…)
  • Movies
    Another pacifier for the little ones, I’ve added a few of the Pixar and Dreamworks short files to our media library. Unlike the full length television shows or animated movies available through the iTunes Store, these shorts are perfect for quick hits to settle them down while waiting for appetizers to arrive.
  • Scheduling Events and Reminders
    This was the main reason I wanted to get her going on the iPhone. There’s no more disconnect between hearing about some scheduled event, having to remember it, and then putting it on a wall calendar or in the computer at home — you just enter it at the point of contact and set the reminder accordingly. These days missed play dates and classroom volunteering area things of the past (well, almost, there’s still that wholeforgetting to take the phone off vibrate issue).
  • Locating Stuff
    With location awareness and Google Maps available anywhere, it’s nearly impossible for her to get lost now, or be unable to find a store nearby. In fact, I’ve shown her a tip that I use, which is not using one of the [lame] yellow pages style phone book apps, but rather to search the Maps application and direct dial the place of business from there. I find it’s much faster and generally more accurate than the phonebook applications out there.
  • Notes
    No more do sticky notes or reminders written on the back of receipts litter our house. The built-in Notes app is plenty for her needs, but I’ve gently pushed apps like reQall, WriteRoom, and OmniFocus as she gets more comfortable using all the features.
  • Weather
    Getting kids out the door in the morning is hectic — seriously. So taking the time to crack the laptop for the day’s forecast, or actually being able to catch the weather report on TV (Nickolodeon needs a weather report) is really not an option. But whip out the iPhone and use the Weather Channel app and we know exactly how to dress the kids for the weather and not send them out in shorts when snow’s coming later in the afternoon.
  • Email and Text
    She’s still adjusting to having access to her email at all times, but texting is really easy and usable for her now that she’s rocking a full keyboard. Not to mention that it makes it easier on me when she needs a quick answer to something and I’m in a meeting, unable to take an actual phone call. Unfortunately however, texting is also easy for our little ones, who have sent gibberish messages to some family members, causing a bit of confusion…
  • Shopping!
    For better or worse, ebay, Amazon and Target (favorite store!) all have their own applications for the iPhone. So she can check her bid status or selling auctions at any time, or compare items while shopping without having to remember to check later or call me to look something up. It’s actually a great way to save money (and time).

The list of life-saver applications for the iPhone in her life continues to grow. It wasn’t the easiest transition, but despite her view of technology making her life more difficult, she’s finally seeing the light. If your significant other non geek type has an aversion to technology, the iPhone may just be the vehicle for easing them into the 21st century. (If you need to convince them, feel free to use this list to illustrate the benefits!)

23 Responses to “Learning to Love Technology: My Wife and the iPhone”

  1. Holy crap, This whole sexism thing is sooo over used. My GF does not know jack about computers and iPhone’s, and yes that’s true in most other cases aswell. That’s not got anything to do with gender.
    Geeks are very well informed about technology obviously in comparison their partners will not know more about computers than these geeks.
    Same as for eg, A female doctors BF won’t know more about medicine than the female. There is no sexism in that.

    One fact that people like to label as a sexist statement is – Guys account for atleast 60% or more, when it comes to Geek. That is not a sexist statement. It’s a fact. A sexist comment would be that “a girl can never be a geek”
    Stop running away from facts. Racism and Sexism are overused these days.

  2. What a fun little microcosm of our current cultural life! Harmlessly interesting and well-intentioned little article. It’s immediately leapt upon by representative of the political correctness police, and offense is taken (or at least feigned, because that’s the correct thing to do). Discussion then focuses on the offense and the appropriateness thereof, author feels compelled to weigh in to defend himself, and the article itself is sort of forgotten. Happens constantly. Feh.

  3. Xairbusdriver

    Great article, must be relevant to many “geeks” of any gender! :-) It will help with showing my very busy wife what else she can do with her 3G. And for an idea of her idea of being a ‘house wife,’ she told the architect to do whatever he wanted with the kitchen of a house we wanted to build. She told him, “That thing is only for resale value!” 8-)

    Relax! Life is too short to waste time finding ways to be offended. Instead, look for ways to be helpful to others! I wasted too much of my years holding a mirror in front of me! That just blocked my view of those who really matter in life. ;-)

  4. Doh! Regardless of how the original phone was messed up, now I’m doubly offended that you not only gave her a hand-me-down, you gave her a potentially imperfect hand-me-down!

    I think you can atone for all your evil chauvinistic wrongdoings here by getting her a 3G. The 16G one, in fact, so she doesn’t have to worry about running out of space once she figures out the joys of music and podcasts on the same device as her super-cool phone.

    (I fear I have to add that I am totally kidding. Well, about the evil chauvinistic stuff, anyway. She really does deserve the 3G!)

  5. Regardless of the intent of the article, I can relate. My wife is the least technical of people. Which honestly I love about her. Being a network engineer, this is something that I can help her with and feel like I am contributing.

    She never had a computer before, but she loves her iphone. So much so that when the 3G came around, I got her the 3G months before I got mine. We sync calendars and contacts with MobileMe as she rarely syncs to the computer. I missed ONE fertility doctor appointment before the MM sign-up. Consider $100 well-spent.

    Now she reads news, emails me back!, plays games, reads books with ereader, checks the weather, stays more informed, mostly loves taking and sharing pictures. No other gadget would have enticed her into the realm of tech. I am not an Apple Fanboi (my new iMac seems to run very slow compared to the Windows XP I normally run), but Apple did this right. Tech and non-tech alike love this thing. There are bad things, sure- cut and paste- but overall both my wife and I both agree that the iphone is the most useful THING we own, dollar for dollar.

  6. Well thank to all for the comments – it’s been…interesting. :)

    As for the ‘Hand Me Down” original iPhone, I deliberately left out the reality behind THAT situation – She was so nice to wash some of my jeans one afternoon (before I was ready to have them washed) and didn’t realize my iPhone was in the pocket… So I was forced to get a new one that afternoon. A week later after letting it dry, we fired the original up and it worked!! So that’s the story of how she got it – I thought it more kind-hearted to leave the incriminating part out, but since you asked… ;)

  7. Yipes. Female geek here who has worked in engineering boys clubs for years but has been fortunate to avoid a lot of the gender inequity other women have had to deal with. I was the boss in many of those situations, so maybe that helped. Or maybe I just ignored it. But I know it absolutely exists, so I’m usually hyper-sensitive to offensive gender stuff (just ask my husband!). But I honestly didn’t see anything too bad in the article. If anything, I’d take more offense at the absent-minded calendar comments than the first paragraph, but really, that stuff applies to everyone.

    I guess the first paragraph could have been lifted so that it leaves out the generalizations. But I don’t know, I’m not getting too exercised about it. Interesting perspectives though!

    Oh, and I’m glad your wife is finally seeing the life-changing benefits of the iPhone. Frankly, I think the worst part of the story is that you made her take your hand-me-down original. Now that she’s seen the light, are you going to seal the deal and upgrade her to a 3G? :)

  8. Richard Dalziel-Sharpe

    It is hilarious to see all of the politically correct humourless comments here. Take a break, have a laugh.
    I am 68 and my wife is 65. I bought my first computer, a Mac when I was 54, and I bought a white iBook for my wife in 2002. She had never used a computer before, so it was up to me to educate her. NOT because I am a geek or that she was a 1950s style “housewife”, but simply because I had the advantage of experience. At our age, she still teaches me things and I teach her. We are a team and happy in our learning. I am pretty sure that the relationship that Nick has with his wife is something like ours, and they both are better for it.

  9. Reading these comments just goes to show that people can choose to be offended at anything.

    The geek stereotype is typically male and single. The author didn’t establish this stereotype, nor is it at this point socially taboo. His parenthetical comment was actually saying that the stereotype “may” not actually be true.
    Funnily enough that doesn’t imply that the readers are romantically challenged, rather the opposite, unless of course you are looking for it to.

    In fact the only assumption that is made is that most geek’s better halves usually aren’t technical. While I have no idea if this is true or not, as far as I can tell, that doesn’t imply that most women aren’t technically inclined. At most it implies that geeks usually are smart enough to marry or date someone that balances them out.

    As to the 1950’s cliché, if the rest of the article wasn’t directly related to how his wife uses the iPhone, I could see that as a valid point. However, since it is, and it’s also 2008, I would hope we have gotten past gender roles. Since his wife chooses to place her priorities in such a manner, I’m wondering why some people are choosing to point it out. Or perhaps it would be “better” if she was a high powered executive.

    Thanks for the interesting article. Sorry that some people chose to find it inflammatory.

  10. What SPECIFICALLY was sexist? Was it this:

    “As I think it goes with most geeks, our better half (yes as a matter of fact, some of us have girlfriends and wives!) usually isn’t the most technical of people”

    He’s a self-described “geek”. It is assumed that his spouse is a non-“geek”. Calling a non-geek not the most technical of people, is logical. Where’s the sexism? Would it have been better if he were a female “geek”? Would then some males get upset about the sexism? Is the problem the fact that we’re assuming he’s married to a woman, and leaving out the possibility that he could have a male partner, thus the sexism is in assuming his partner has to be female?

    People see what they want to see. If you look for sexism, you’ll see it in the water you drink.

  11. Ken: Since you pointed part of your comment directly at me… I’m not criticizing or judging what you wrote but my comments were made because I more than likely come from a different area of the country than you do. In the Southwest we can relate to what Nick just wrote especially if you marry someone who didn’t even have a typewriter growing up. Believe me when I say that because there’s a lot of them, both men and women, out here who would still rather write a check than use a bank card at the grocery store. I’m talking about middle-aged and not the stereotyped grandmothers.

    There are still a lot of women out there who would rather be the “still-rather-common housewife” … as you put it Ken. I and everyone reading this knows the content of this post is meant for anyone to read and comment on but “doesn’t” apply to every single person. The reason why I thew in … “I don’t read all your articles for one reason or another but enjoyed this one because I went through the same ordeal but failed miserably.”

  12. Two remarks to deal with. First, from the offense-prone Gazoobee: “Perhaps your domestic situation is a 1950’s era cliché….”

    And perhaps yours is a 1970s-era cliché.

    On a lighter note, Nick our author noted:: “… there’s still that whole forgetting to take the phone off vibrate issue.”

    What a wonderful opening for an application, one that would put an iPhone on vibrate for a user-selected time and then switch it back to ring automatically.

  13. Gazoobee might’ve been a little snarky, but I have to agree that the post just rubs me the wrong way, regardless of author’s intentions. That single, opening sentence manages to endores multiple tired stereotypes that not only offend but exclude lots of people (uh, about half!) who might otherwise enjoy reading this blog and be contributing members of its community.

    “As I think it goes with most geeks, our better half (yes as a matter of fact, some of us have girlfriends and wives!) usually isn’t the most technical of people.”

    I don’t think you have to read too deep to get the implication that (a) readers of this blog (“us”) are, er, romantically challenged, (b) readers of this blog are male, and (c) women are not technically inclined. (Okay, at least you acknowledge that the “half” is “better”, but that’s easily lost and might even sound patronizing in context.) We should give ourselves a good, hard stare and consider which of these assumptions we actually hold. Then, maybe we could all go read this. (:

    Meanwhile, I have to firmly disagree with DaveE and suspect that Nick would, too. The real content of this post applies to any parent, from the single dad to the still-rather-common housewife. Aside from fixing the distracting intro, it could remain an account of Nick’s wife’s personal experience and be a perfectly fine post—no compromises. It’s all good, as long as we remember to acknowledge that our individual experiences are just that—individual experiences.

    Gazoobee probably could have made these points without getting snarky, but it’s easy for me to forgive. My wife works in software and deals with crap like this on at least a weekly basis, and that’s at a company whose culture we think is on the upper tail of the curve. Most places now have the sense to stop holding company parties at strip clubs (I’m not making this up.), but we’ve got a long way to go to get past the latent “boy’s club” attitude. These things might seem small, esp. to some who take for granted the privilege that comes from being in the majority, but assumptions like these can, over time, profoundly affect how people feel they fit in or belong in an organization or community. What a sorry way to lose creative talent and perspective.

  14. Brian McCall

    This is your first sentence without the part in parentheses.
    “As I think it goes with most geeks, our better half usually isn’t the most technical of people.”
    Maybe you should slow down a little.

  15. I think you did fine Nick. It was a personal experience that was written as a personal experience. Making it asexual or taking out/ changing the details would change the context of the article. I don’t read all your articles for one reason or another but enjoyed this one because I went through the same ordeal but failed miserably. You can’t make everyone happy. :)

  16. @Gazoobee All great and valid points. However, the fact is that this post was my wife’s own idea. (Kind of changes the perspective, eh?) All of the topics I covered were things she made mention of – so apparently you’re insulting my wife’s (very narrow) personal experience? Now that’s not very nice.

    The intro was merely an attempt at humor, and not meant as a broad gender stereotype. I assume nothing about the shape/size/gender of geeks, (“If your significant other non geek type”) simply stating that these are the features that have won my wife over, who tends to fit such a category.

    If you take a look at the high points (which she made) without your narrow view, and think outside the box of the examples I used, you (or your non geek acquaintance of any sex) might notice that these can be applied to anyone’s situation, 50’s era cliché or not.

  17. I don’t think that you were sexist at all in this post… but as someone in the same situation (who happens to be male, though that’s irrelevant), I totally understand you. I’m trying to get my better half hooked on the iPhone, too, but she has yet to see the advantage. I’ll keep plugging away, though!

  18. I know it was meant in the best possible way (at least it seems it was), but this is kind of slightly offensive as an article. You made it about *gender* (and in a bad way), when it needn’t have been. Most likely because you seem to be writing from your own (very narrow), personal experience.

    It bothered me that you assumed that all geeks are male, and that “most” must have a non-technical spouse or girlfriend. It bothered me that you seem to constantly proselytise your “better half” and explain to her (presumably because she is not smart enough to figure it out herself), all the great things the iPhone could do. Finally, it also bothered me that the majority of your suggestions for her involve helping her with tracking the grocery budget, “the kids,” shopping again, and then the kids again.

    Perhaps your domestic situation is a 1950’s era cliché, but it would be nice to have a tiny mention of the fact that not *everyone* is that way inclined.