How many iPhone revisions, updates and unveilings must I sit through before hearing the one feature every parent craves has finally become reality?
"MDILMP," also known as "Mom, Dad, I Lost My Phone."
Recently, I watched Apple CEO Tim Cook enthusiastically announce the new features on the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, the latter featuring a price tag that now includes (drumroll please) a COMMA! (CUE THUNDEROUS APPLAUSE!) Like an actor anxiously waiting to hear his name during the Oscars ceremony, I listened for MDILMP. Instead I heard the following:
--Wireless charging support
--A11 Bionic processor
And then the press conference was over, leaving iPhone addicts scurrying to ATMs, withdrawing money previously earmarked for food and rent, and staking their place in line outside an Apple store.
Just recently, my 15-year-old daughter announced an outbreak of MDILMP during a high school volleyball match. My wife launched the Find my iPhone app on her phone, an occasionally useful feature, but one that often turns the user into a bit player in a horror movie.
"It's somewhere in the school," said my wife, staring intently at a dot, surrounded by a pulsating circle. "No wait. It's moving. IT'S MOVING!"
"Run for your life," I screamed, eliciting neither a laugh nor a glare. I had expected at least one.
"Somebody has her phone," she said. "Why else would it be moving?"
That question was soon answered, as my daughter realized she had inadvertently slipped her phone into a friend's backpack, a friend who was meandering through the school in between volleyball matches.
Crisis averted. Our friends, however, are not always so fortunate. Whenever we go out socially, at least one couple is currently mired in a lost iPhone episode. They seethe with anger at their teen for being so irresponsible with the phone, yet are in constant states of panic knowing the lifeline to their child has been severed until the phone is found or a replacement is purchased.
However, if we can now unlock and control our phones simply by staring at them -- Face ID technology being a new component of the iPhone X -- then Apple should easily be able to produce a phone that announces when the device has parted with its owner, rendering the Find my iPhone app unnecessary.
Activating the MDILMP feature could be as simple as making Siri, Apple's intelligent personal assistant, more proactive. Currently, Siri waits for our kids, and all users for that matter, to ask it important questions like, "How many calories in a serving of Chipotle barbacoa?" "Does Chipotle have non-fat sour cream?" and "Why does the guy behind me at Chipotle look so annoyed?"
How hard would it be, Tim Cook and Apple engineers, for Siri to loudly say, "That's not your backpack," "Your phone is still on the school bus," "For the love of God, put your phone away while eating at Chipotle," and other relevant reminders?
Who knows? The MDILMP feature could eliminate high school announcements, boomed over a loudspeaker, saying "If you are missing your iPhone, please come to the main office to retrieve it. Be prepared to identify it. And just saying, 'It's got a Selena Gomez case' won't cut it. We have about 30 of those."
I have no clue when the 9, 9x, or $9,000 iPhone will be released, but, like all the other announcements, dating back to the iPhone 5, I will be listening intently. And, Apple engineers, if the MDILMP feature is not worthy of inclusion, may I suggest an alternative?
Facial recognition software that instantly identifies teens likely to lose their phones -- and then instructs Siri to read aloud potential consequences.
Starting with loss of Chipotle privileges.