I almost always have my phone set to “silent” mode. The reason is simple: I don’t want to annoy those around me with a basically never-ending barrage of push notifications.1 But the past couple of days I’ve been trying out a new device, the latest Jawbone Era Bluetooth headset, and now I feel rather ridiculous given all the audible wonders I’ve been missing.

You see, with the Era in-ear and tethered to my phone, any sounds that would normally go through the speaker of the phone go right to the device. So I no longer feel bad about leaving the sound on. And now that means I get to hear not only push notification sounds, but all sounds being put to clever usage within apps. And some of them really do alter the way an app feels.

To some of you, this will be the most obvious thing in the world. But I know a lot of people are like myself and almost always have their phones set to silent. And we’re all missing a big component of many apps and the overall mobile experience.

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After seeing Her the other day I realized that it felt a lot like Lost in Translation and dealt with the same themes: isolation, loneliness, and finding solace in someone (or something) else.

Yep. Thought the same things.

Update: Another interesting little twist to this: remember that Spike Jonze and Sofia Coppola were married from 1999 - 2003. Then there’s the rumor that Giovanni Ribisi’s photographer character in Lost in Translation was based on Jonze. And, of course, there’s the voice of Samantha…

Was Her Jonze’s direct response to Lost in Translation? Maybe that’s reading way too much into it. But maybe not. It’s certainly a compelling notion that sort of works beautifully.

Alex Hawgood:

Love Plus, a dating-simulation game developed for the portable Nintendo DS console, allows a player to caress another’s hair using a touch pad or to go on a flirtatious study date. Much like how Samantha is programmed to be adaptive to Theodore’s personality in “Her,” these virtual sweethearts modify their personas in real time based on the player’s likes and dislikes. The game is popular among otaku, Japanese slang for reclusive computer nerds, who often post screen shots of their Samanthas online or go on real-life dates with their video-game console.

Everyone jokes about Siri, but we’re actually much closer to Samantha than it seems.

The Astonishing Triumph Of ‘Her’

I’ve been thinking about the new Spike Jonze film Her quite a bit recently. I really enjoyed it when I saw it last week, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. It’s one of those films that sticks with you and grows in your head. The best kind of film, in my opinion.

When I first heard the premise of the movie, it raised some obvious red flags. A guy falls in love with his Siri-like operating system. Oh boy. Assuming the plot wasn’t a joke being spread to obfuscate the real plot, the liklihood of such a film falling flat on its face seemed very high. Hollywood is generally incompetent when it comes to films about technology. And trying to mix emotion with technology sounded like a recipe for a total disaster.

And yet, Her turned out brilliantly.

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