Exchange and Outlook Blog

Droid Life, 6 Months On: Or, Confessions of a Smartphone Addict

I resisted getting a cell phone of any kind as long as I could, and when I did finally submit to the shackles of this modern device, it was solely for work purposes—to better know and understand the smartphone market. Or so I told myself. The problem is, I like technology and shiny new toys. I've had my Motorola Droid for just over six months now, and it's hard to believe how insidiously it has invaded every corner of my life.

When I first got my Droid (which, in Star Wars–fashion, I call NineTee), I made a point of testing out the variety of pre-installed apps—camera, navigation, email, of course. I downloaded a few apps from the Android Market just to see how that works—DroidLight by Motorola, Documents to Go by DataViz (recently purchased by RIM), some games. And I made a point of trying out Facebook for Android to see how the social networking thing would work through the mobile device.

But at least initially, I approached this as an experiment that would help me in my work life. I didn't, as a matter of course, carry NineTee with me all the time. Outside of working hours, I would pick it up if I wanted specifically to test something, or perhaps to play a game to pass some time. You know, it was a tool to be used as necessary.

Now here we are, six months on, and the picture is quite different. One of the first things I do every morning is check the tech headlines through the News and Weather app while I drink my coffee. I read and respond to my personal email almost exclusively through the Gmail app on the Droid. If I'm watching TV in the evening, chances are the Droid is by my side—so I can quickly and easily respond to any Facebook activity that seems entertaining. But occasionally, something comes through on the work email that gets my attention as well.

A couple months ago, I downloaded TweetCaster, a Twitter client for Android. I've had a Twitter account, @bkwins, for over a year, but had never used it until I merged it into the Droid. Now I'm tweeting just about daily—yes, even on weekends at times. But more importantly, I've found this to be another great avenue to information about mobile and messaging technology and a way to connect with these communities.

Perhaps most telling in my growing smartphone addiction was my experience on a recent vacation. Two weeks ago, I spent a week camping in Yellowstone National Park. In the past, such a vacation was an opportunity to withdraw completely not just from work but also from all the connections of daily home life (no cell phone, remember?). However, by taking the Droid with me, I also took all of that stuff along—and had a really fun time with it.

So I posted status updates to Facebook throughout the days, whenever and wherever I had a good mobile connection—which is actually a large part of the park, at least for Verizon. I added pictures taken on the Droid when I could. And I interacted with my family and friends through their posts and mine. But there was also regular email and text messaging. Before leaving for the trip, I turned off automatic sync to my work email; however, I ended up checking that email as well because there were a couple things going on at the office during the week I was away that I needed to check in on. (Really? I ask myself. You had to check? How would that have gone if you didn't have the Droid?) And of course, I was tweeting away multiple times a day, talking about where in Yellowstone you could expect a good 3G connection, and where you couldn't.

I also got to test out Google Sky Maps without the light pollution of suburbia. Very cool! I used DroidLight for a walk in the dark over uneven pavement when I hadn't brought a proper flashlight along. Might have saved a twisted ankle there. And at night, instead of a flashlight and my watch beside my sleeping bag, I had just my Droid to tell the time (so if I woke in the middle of the night, I could judge how long till morning and decide if it was worth waiting or if I should brave the cold, get up, and go to the bathroom).

Yes, life is very different with the Droid. Most obvious is how the line between work and home have become blurred. What I find surprising about that is how little I mind. I've always been someone who has made a firm distinction between the two; however, this little smartphone gadget pulls it all together—and kind of makes it fun. Does it increase my productivity? In some ways, absolutely. Is it a distraction? Again, in some ways, absolutely.

I've rambled on quite a bit about this now, and you're probably expecting me to get to the moral of the story. I wish I had one. It's a strange new world, and I'm still not sure what to do with it. I'm a little afraid that, as adaptable as humans are, the human brain isn't really meant to change so quickly. On the other hand, I look at all the newer Droids that have come to market since the one I use, and the excitement building over Windows Phone 7 devices—and I want them all!

There's probably a program out there to help people like me. Let me know if you've heard of one.

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