mommacaptivated In mid July I asked you guys whether I should buy my ol’ lady, who had been suffering  from WinMo hell, the Samsung Captivate or the iPhone 4. I already had my mind made up, the Captivate, but I needed you to back me up in case she resisted letting me get the phone she hadn’t heard of, which you did with your comments and your landslide voting in favor of the Android phone.

Then a month later bitter old David K wrote a vacuous, vapid, vituperative and vexing piece bashing Android he called Ten Reason Android Loses. His number one reason? “For all that Android is, it’s still not ‘mom’ ready.” Bullshit it’s not, I thought, and when mom got back from getting tuned up at the hospital, I came over, after I had unboxed it insanely that is, with a Captivate, just in time for the anesthetics to have more or less worn off. Mind you my mom is most certainly the type of ‘mom’ David implied. She’s not young, she’s not computer-savvy, she’s got no technological intuition. She’s a ‘mom,’ trust me; more so than I think David K meant.

The only thing I had done to prep the phone was clean out the AT&T bloatware, fire up her Google account and lay down some icons of interest to her. No custom rom, no Froyo; just a stripping of the AT&T clutter which by the way is easy with this phone. Cutting to the chase, Momma loves the Captivate, Momma loves Android. She really loves it. Well, she really loves me – but she really likes the phone. It was love at first touch and sight of the screen, slenderness, light weight and chicness. When I fired it up, wow, what a fantastic screen and oh my, it doesn’t take three minutes to boot.

But will it be reliable, she asked. To her, and she’s not alone in having this opinion, WinMo was not reliable, having to pop the battery to reset it all the time, both ActiveSync and IMAP mail constantly failing et cetra. She had been quite shell shocked. She had me rig my dad’s Blackberry for her email as a backup. I advised her that I have not yet had such an experience with my Google phone and I suspect she’ll find this phone, in terms of bad surprises, uneventful. That of course remains to be seen and I’ll follow up down the road on Mom’s adventures with the Samsung Captivate running Android 2.1, soon to be 2.2.

After only minimal instruction from me Mom can now email, she can check her stock portfolio swiftly (a place where she may now pinch to zoom instead of double tapping with a stylus), she can watch and listen to whatever she wants on Youtube, she can take pictures and video and email them or drop them onto Picasa, she can read the New York Times using the decent New York Times app (the only non-stock app I gave her, the rest is Google), she could listen to her music were I to dump her mp3s onto it but for entertainment Youtube is keeping her quite happy so far. She can do everything she used to be able to do, plus more, and do it with confidence that it will work. And she can do it in direct sunlight thanks to the four inch Super AMOLED screen.

The one challenge? Moving from a hard to a soft keyboard. The TP2 had a nice big keyboard. My mom spooks easy and teaching such a lady how to type on the screen, a place where you needn’t put any pressure in order for the key to register as a press, is a challenge. However, in less time than I had anticipated she’s gotten the hang of typing enough that she’s actually doing it without me and that she’s also learning how to do it faster and faster without me. I’m not getting pounded with calls to come over to help her with her phone anymore. She’s set, finally. Android is mom-ready, no doubt about it.

One unique feature of the phone is that none of her friends have seen a Captivate (let alone a Google phone for that matter), whereas they have seen iPhones, so this is great “Look what my son bought me — it’s Google” material for her. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those friends called me to get them Google too. Given that she prefers the tradeoff of thinness and lightness of a soft keyboard phone to the hard and that she’s getting the hang of it and that there would be such a soft keyboard learning curve with a phone of any platform, there is absolutely nothing lacking with this device or its platform as far as Mom’s concerned.

Doug Simmons


  1. Props for taking the somewhat large leap of faith and pointing your moms down the Android road. I haven’t yet made that leap yet for my mother, but I’m having the same sort of talks with my g/f as far as soft vs. hard keyboards (we both had/have Tilt2s, but I made the switch to the Cap). She’s very resistant to that change, but I’m hoping that persistence will pay off, and she’ll be among the elite few who see the advantages that Android will bring and make the switch soon.

  2. If your Mom was using WinMo, she was already up there on the tech pedestal. And if such a person takes weeks of cajoling, coaxing, convincing and training to use an Android device, I am willing to go with David K that the OS “is still not Mom ready”.

  3. Salil, while I admire your grasp of logic and reason, it doesn’t apply at all in this case.

    The only reason my Mom was able to use WinMo at all is because she was on a complex array of stilts from me in the form of prepping the phone with things like a hard keymapper and going over to help her all the time.

    Were she to give you a demonstration of the extent of her WinMo capabilities, it would reveal this: Power button, long press power button to turn it fully off, push to talk button to open email, long press push to talk to open Opera which went straight to her stock portfolio, double tapping to zoom in, the green button to pull up the phone, end button to get out of whatever she was in (either email, Opera or the phone), and in email, menu > start sync over and over when both imap and activesync failed.

    I tried to teach her how to pop the battery in order to get out of a crash but that was too hard for her so out of frustration she’d just let it die or call me (on the landline) to come over and reboot it for her.

    That was it. She figured out nothing on her own over the years of using WinMo devices and so as not to overload her I didn’t teach her anything more because it was confusing enough as it was for her. So to say that because she was able to do that then she somehow passed the bar of phone competence and was therefore too savvy for David K’s ‘mom’ classification, that’s categorically off the mark.

  4. Okay, this is a comment I posted on WMPU yesterday, and now I just saw this mom article.

    My mom sent me this text tonight. I think it’s hilarious.

    Hi kids! Glenn and I got new smart phones. Samsung intercept with unlimited text and data. I’m having so much fun with it! Hope you are both having a good week. Love, Mom.

    Me: Really? What’s so fun about it?

    Her: Adding apps, getting email. Internet. It has GPS. Facebook. Weather. You name it. There are hundreds of apps out there.

    Me: Welcome to the 21st Century. It’s fun isn’t it?

    No response.

    A little background- my mom is 59 but works as a project manager for a major healthcare software company, so I’ve always considered her pretty proficient technologically.

    So this Android device has got my mom all excited. I first thought the text was spam, because she doesn’t normally talk like that. Wait, maybe… Oh no, it’s too late! My own mother has fallen prey to the Google mind-control machine. It’s only a matter of time before her giddiness and pride turns to anger and hatred of all things non-Google. Better not show her my new WP7 device in a few months, we might not be welcome for Christmas.

  5. for an awkward moment with mom show her the Android Market and go to ‘new apps’ while she’s watching…just wait to see what pops up. Pages of ‘adult’ related apps – images of chicks and the like. I’m sure your mom and you will just have a ton to talk about:)

  6. I was curious how long I could make it on an article with Mom in the title before the ensuing thread devolved toward the yo-momma direction.

    Four days. Not bad.

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