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Two Ideas That Need to Happen Immediately

February 10, 2008


Call Waiting

I like the concept of call waiting, but I consider it a little rude to switch over from one conversation to another. However, I’m not offended if someone does this to me. I try to avoid doing it myself, both for the rudeness factor and the fact that I have not once successfully switched back to my original conversation without hanging up on that person. Not a single time. I’m sure there’s some way to do this, some secret combination of buttons that let you return to the combination, but the fact that it’s not abundantly clear on my cell phone indicates to me that there’s a design flaw there. It should be intuitive, not something you have to look up in the user manual and memorize. There should be a single button that allows you to return to your original call, not a combination of hang up or clear and then another button. One button. That’s it.

On top of that, how often do you actually want to have a conversation with the second caller while leaving the original caller on the line. I would say that there are three scenarios:

1. You don’t want to talk to the second caller.
2. You want to talk to the second caller after your done with the first.
3. You’re done talking with the first caller and you’d like to talk with the second.

I would say that the third scenario, although normal, will rarely take place, merely because you can’t end the first conversation in the five seconds the second caller is going to listen to the phone ring. So we’re primarily talking about the first two scenarios. A change doesn’t need to be made for the first, because right now, you can just ignore the second call and let it go to voice mail. But let’s focus on the second, most common scenario. Why do you need to talk to that person at all while you’re still on the phone with the first caller? Nine times out of ten, all I want to say to that person is, “I’m on the phone—I’ll call you back in a few minutest.”

So why is there not a button on your phone that does this for you? It can be a prerecorded message, and once you see the call come in, you can press a single button—again, a single button—and the second caller hears your voice telling them that you’ll call them back. How hard would that be? Fewer conversations would be needlessly interrupted, and fewer situations would happen where the second caller, if ignored, makes another call after they’re sent to your voice mail. In fact, you should be able to press that button for any incoming call—a “call you later” button.

A cell phone shouldn’t be an interruption device. It should be a tool of connection.

Tomorrow:

The Second Idea

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