I passed by a couple of our high school library student helpers recently, on my way to take a photo of a new bulletin board. I said, “My new phone has facial recognition, and it worries me.”

One of the students said, without missing a beat, “I wouldn’t trust it.”

I was relieved that my trepidation about new technology was not necessarily due to my advanced age.

Usually I am eager to get a new iPhone. This year I was due for an upgrade, but was hesitant. I was attached to my old phone, my constant companion for over two years. Plus, setting up and adapting to a new device takes time.

So I waited for the holiday break, when school was closed for two weeks. Happily, I realized I could give my old phone to my husband, Paul, and so not part with it completely. Paul had an inexpensive phone that was in its death throes (some days, it just refused to transmit texts). Then — I obviously hadn’t been giving this much thought — I realized that I was going to be transferring everything from my old phone to the new one, and so the screens would look the same.

Of course, this was just an illusion. I was graduating from an iPhone7 to an 11. The new one is bigger, has no “home” button and uses facial recognition to unlock itself.

It took me over an hour to set up the new phone, but at least I could multitask while the data transferred, or whatever it does. I can handle technology with reasonable adeptness only because I don’t try to understand it. I just follow directions. When trouble strikes, I turn devices off and then on again. I find help through Google and YouTube videos.

Finally, I had a working phone. I could see that the absence of a  home button was going to confound me for a while. It was easy to swipe up on an app to close it, instead of clicking a button. But I simply wasn’t used to doing it that way. I wanted to press something, and so would press the power button instead. This made the screen go black, but did not close the app.

A week later, I’m still hitting that power button four out of 10 times when I should be swiping. I’m going to keep track of how long it takes me to get it right every time. Just for fun.

Next, I had to remove the SIM card from Paul’s old Android phone and put it in my previous iPhone, so he could connect to his provider.

It was easy enough to poke the end of a paper clip into a hole on the side of the old iPhone, to eject a tiny drawer that contained the card. How many times had I used paper clips to reset Apple computers and devices over the years?

I had no time for reveries, though, because of my inexperience with Android phones. Much Googling revealed I had to take the back off Paul’s phone and maybe remove the battery to get at the SIM card. Aargh. I was now moving out of my comfort zone. But it turned out I could remove the card without dealing with the battery.

Now all I had to do was get the card into the tiny iPhone drawer. Which I couldn’t do. I was sure I was destroying the SIM card with my fussing. Another hour passed. Tearfully, I called to Paul:

“Can you try to do this? I’m at the end of my rope!”

Paul did not want any part of this situation, but he kindly came over, took the SIM card and quickly dropped it into the little drawer.

I had no time to feel stupid. Was this going to work?

Yes. However, within a day we realized that my awkward pawing had damaged the SIM card — the iPhone was barely holding a charge. I ordered a new card. When it arrives, I am not touching it.

I had to take a break to feed the dogs and cats and make our dinner. Then I was back to work. Paul didn’t want the 50 or so apps that were still loaded on the old phone he had inherited. All he wants is to be able to talk and text — a couple of times a day. I spent another half hour deleting.

And like that, vacation was over.

My worries about the facial recognition function continued for several days. Then I decided to take my first photo outside. I picked up the phone, which did not recognize my face. Instead, the password screen appeared. Aha! I was wearing sunglasses. My phone saw me as a stranger. Good phone!

I took off the glasses. The phone unlocked. Now, that is some crazy stuff.

With apologies to Shakespeare, “Oh, brave new world/That has such devices in it!”

 

Liz Soares welcomes email at [email protected].


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