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The iPhone user fallacy: Not everyone’s a super-user

A friend of my wife’s was due to visit a few weeks ago.

The day before, the friend sent a text messaging asking my wife for directions to our house.

“The postcode will do it,” I said to my wife, “Or she could lookup the road and number.”

I mentally checked out of the conversation and got on with driving into High Wycombe. After decades of lambasting boring people for doing nothing at the weekend, the best my wife and I can do, at the moment, is get baby Archie into the car, drive to the shopping centre, rush to Wagamama whilst he’s still asleep, wolf down the food, buy some stuff and get back into the car and home, before he has a chance to consider bursting into tears with tiredness. This strategy is working well for us right now.

“No, she needs directions,” my wife responded.

I nearly crashed

“Has she got some piece of rubbish handset?” I asked, expecting to find the friend has a rubbish Samsung or 5 year old Sony Ericsson.  Who on Earth needs ‘directions’ any more?  How ridiculous.  Directions?  If the place isn’t available on the satnav, that’s fine.   But who texts for ‘directions’ any more?

“She wants directions from the M4,” my wife continued, “What’s the name of that road?”

“It’s the A404. What phone does she have?” I replied.

“She has an iPhone,” said my wife, as she tapped out the directions.

I was incredulous

“She has an iPhone and she’s ASKING YOU for directions?” I thundered.  I nearly ran over a moped.

“She forgot to print out the directions,” my wife explained in a matter of fact tone.  She knew it was winding me up.


I got a mock glare from her before she enlightened me,  “She normally finds the route on Google Maps then prints it out.”

“SHE DOES WHAT? And she’s got an iPhone?”

Well then.

There we have it

Conclusive proof that iPhones most certainly aren’t everything.

There is, you see, an overwhelming body of opinion within the industry that the moment you give someone an iPhone, they experience a come-to-Jesus [Steve Jobs] moment and ascend into user interface heaven.  The assumption is that after a few weeks of messing around, the new convert will have received the light.

I found it astonishing that this particular person required my wife to actually type out a three-text-long set of instructions when the iPhone offers so many faster-better-nicer alternatives than sodding about with paper, a printer and Google Maps.

Let’s count the ways

  1. She could have used the Google Maps app on the iPhone
  2. She could have used Google Maps ON the iPhone’s browser
  3. Waze offers free (good quality) satellite navigation along with traffic updates
  4. There are countless other free sat-nav apps available
  5. She could have blown £50-60 quid on the TomTom app
  6. Or CoPilot is a much more reasonable £19.99
  7. She could have used a variety of apps with sat-nav/direction add-ons like many of the traffic related apps
  8. Or she could have visited an array of other web based services

But no.

It wasn’t familiar.

Clearly, my wife’s friend thought it was far more appropriate to either use Google Maps and print the results; or ask for directions.

In fairness, it’s a far more reliable attitude. Paper works. It doesn’t run out of battery and it is not reliant on patchy mobile data signals.  Quite often, I’ve found myself in the middle of nowhere with zero mobile signal, feeling like a bit of a plonker, because I relied upon my mobile operator (like the time in Paris).

My point is that it’s far too easy to assume that the millions of iPhone users in the UK are all using the devices as we expect or assume they should.

What’s been your experience?

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