About five years ago, I buried my desk phone. There wasn’t a ceremony, and by “bury” I mean I put it in the garbage and figure it ended up (sadly) in a landfill somewhere. Feel free to point out that I could have donated the phone or recycled it somehow, but there are times when you just need to rip something out of your office and make it extinct.
Since then, over the past five years, I’ve lived without a desk phone, but there have been a few times when I’ve regretted it. I typically use a smartphone at my desk, but I happen to have fairly big hands (I missed my calling as a hand model for a big and tall store). So, if I’m using an iPhone, for example, I have to carefully punch out the numbers. To make matters worse, I have to fish it out of my pocket, or find it in my laptop bag, or find it period.
Recently, I started testing the new Apple iMac 21.5-inch (the one with the 4K display). Frankly, I wanted to see what all of the fuss was about now that IBM has started a program called Mac at Work. I’ve half-expected to see doves falling out of the sky and a burning red-orange moon showing signs of the apocolypse now that the creator of the original PC has switched to the Mac platform, and even has an extensive program to help companies deploy the Mac.
No doves, no burning moon. IBM obviously prefers this platform.
Now, I’m planning a much larger feature about some of my findings. I’m meeting with a few deployment companies and firms who have invested recently in the iMac, but I have a few major realizations of my own, and none of them are related to the ease-of-use (I already know Mac users make far fewer support calls) or reliability (not a single blue screen of death).
Instead, I’ve noticed the Mac is helping me with my daily workflow and, specifically, to make it easier to make calls and text people. That might seem trivial, but the workplace has changed in recent years. Yes, we’re all checking our email constantly. We use Google Docs to hammer out business reports. We surf all day. But we still make phone calls and most of us are addicted to texting. The world of “mobile” calls and texts doesn’t really mesh with the world of desktop computing, but the world of desktop computing is not going away anytime soon.
Apple figured this out. It’s called Continuity.
It’s a godsend for me. I’ve never really used it, but it is making me more productive and bridging that gap between “I can work anywhere” and “I can only do real work in my office”. There are days when I do head out to a coffee shop and work all day, iPhone and a laptop in tow. There are days when I am planted in front of a widescreen monitor.
From the Mac, I’ve fallen into a new habit. I now text and call more frequently. My iPhone sits close-by (because it has to be within the same room). From the Mac, I can text using a real keyboard. When I want to call someone, I dial from the Mac. If I happen to be on a call using the iPhone, I can press an icon to switch the call over to the Mac. (This feature requires Apple OS X El Capitan, by the way.) From the Mac, I can pass the call over to the iPhone. Slick.
Now, I can’t say it has changed how I write just yet. I still use Google Docs for that, but if I do switch over to Pages, I know I can start writing on an iPad Pro at the library, then switch over to the Mac in my office and, after clicking an icon that pops up in the dock (an area where you start programs similar to the Start menu in Windows), pick up where I left off. More slick.
What’s really changed is my office workflow. I’m much more seamless about calling and texting now, and I can see how document management would work better. (My main issue with Pages is that it runs too slow on my Google Chromebook Pixel 2015 in the browser.) Continuity also works for the Notes app and Mail app, although I tend to rely on a paper journal for notes and mostly use Gmail.com.
The iMac dings when I get a new text. When a call comes in, I get a prompt to accept or decline the call. If I accept, I can talk on the iMac speakerphone. It’s amazing because I’m answering more phone calls, doing more audio-conferences, and talking to more of my colleagues.
I’ll have more to say about my findings, but for anyone who hasn’t tried this and is still using a desk phone, consider making the jump. Even though these features have been out a while, they deserve a second look. Your desk phone? It deserves a burial.
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