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Captivating Mom

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