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On September 9th Apple – with their usual understated panache – unveiled IOS 9, the latest version of their mobile software. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO proudly announced:

For starters, IOS 9 will now learn from your behavior and use this information to better respond to your needs depending on context. For example, if you tend to meditate in the morning, your iPhone will now give you a shortcut to your favorite related app on your lock screen first thing in the morning, allowing you to quickly get going. You the sporty type? That’s fine, too — just plug in your earphones and your iPhone will instantly bring your music player to your lock screen and give you a shortcut to it, too. This is all ‘Intelligence’.

Siri-head

 IOS 9 was duly released to the world – mostly unsuspecting and the rest suspicious – on September 16th.

Shortly thereafter, seeing nothing too calamitous on the techie web, I took the plunge and updated my iPhone to IOS 9.

My world didn’t tremble or even slightly stumble. Everything, in fact, seemed pretty much as it had been before. I had read that IOS 9 would ‘read’ my emails and would put any appointments it found in my diary. So I wasn’t surprised to find flights details and theatre bookings start to appear in my Calendar. In fact, IOS 9 was quite polite in doing this; these appointments appeared in grey with an appendage asking whether I was happy with this and offering to discard them if I wasn’t. For the rest, all the other changes seemed pretty ho-hum as far as I was concerned.

So far, so so-what then….until last Thursday, when I had made a tentative arrangement with my chum, James, to play tennis at 1.30. Being a relatively meticulous sort of chap, I duly entered the relevant details into my electronic calendar:

Event: James

Location: Stormont Tennis Club

Time 1.30 – 3.00

 I was delighted to receive a message on my phone at 1.10 saying

James. Traffic is light but you should leave in 15 minutes.

I did think this was a somewhat strange bit of communication, especially the bit about the traffic. I would have expected James to say something more like: “Can make it, I’ll be there by 1.30”, but hey tennis was on and it was ‘Thunderbirds are Go!’. I quickly changed, grabbed my racquets, and sped forth to the tennis club; where I arrived as forewarned in time for our 1.30 knock

I was, understandably then, quite miffed when James had not appeared by 1.45; especially given the precise nature of his message. Calling him up, I was completely surprised to find that James was still playing golf and that he claimed not to have sent me any message. I fumbled round my phone to find his message and, when none was to be found, I began to wonder whether I had finally gone completely round the twist. Pressing every option, I eventually opened up my ‘Notifications’. There it was – it wasn’t a message at all, it was a phone-generated notification; produced from the details of my Calendar entry and ‘current location’.

Once I stopped berating myself for taking a ‘notification’ as a ‘message’, I realised that I had became a victim of IOS 9’s intelligence’. It’s pretty neat really. The whole thing only really failed because I lacked the smarts to figure out what was going on!

However, there is a darker side to all this, me thinks. It was not my phone’s fault that I had put a appointment in my calendar that only I knew was tentative. But whose the boss here in this relationship? If I decide not to brain-dump every iota of information into my electronic devices, surely that is my prerogative! As it was, in this case, the only damage caused in my sorry little tale was that I wasted an hour of my time. But what happens when IOS 10, 18, 23 or 34 makes more far-reaching decisions on my behalf i.e. cancelling my doctor’s appointment because I send a text message to my wife that I’m feeling a little better or calling an ambulance when I text her that I’m not! Watch this space …or even more importantly, for you, watch your own!

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