Anyone who has gone to church, synagogue, mosque, or any regularly-scheduled meeting over the last twenty years has encountered the irritating interruption of cell-phone ringing. Yesterday such an embarrassing event disrupted the NY Philharmonic’s performance at the Lincoln Center.
It occurred to me several years ago that most of these appalling interruptions are entirely preventable.
Smart phones have calendars. Therefore, we can “schedule” the ringing, vibrating, and silence of smartphones. Thus far neither Apple, Google, nor RIM have promoted this capability, and it is possible that none of these companies have actually written their their software to enable this function. But I know it is possible, because in Linux you can schedule “cron jobs” since there is always a clock running as part of the operating system. So! Mobile-phone companies! Make “scheduled ring” a default component of your phone software! Make it part of the initial setup process on every smartphone!
Consider: you know when you will be in regularly-scheduled meetings. You know that under most circumstances, you do not want your phone to ring in the middle of the night. So you should be able to go into a weekly calendar, and set your phone to silent or vibrate during those times. Yet another benefit: you won’t have to remember to turn the ringer back on after the event.
Furthermore, whenever you schedule a meeting–even if you are doing it on a laptop with iCal or Google Calendar, the default dialog-box should have a drop-down option or radio button to specify whether you want mobile devices to be silenced during that event. If you sync your calendars, then any even you put into any electronic calendar can silence your phone when you want it silent.
All of us who read too much science fiction from the 1950s onward keep worrying that technology is going to ‘take over.’ Meanwhile, we should spend a little more mental energy figuring out how to make it work well for us!