Do you remember, in the ‘before’ times, when the phone would ring? Are you at the age where the phone was a plastic thing with numbers on it, which was connected to a special socket in the wall? So it rang. Ring. Ring ring.
Wait! Skip a few years later, and this other plastic gadget-thing which dad bought showed us the number that was calling us. Nope, we don’t know this number.
A few years later, a few years ago, I got a car-phone. It was a horrid thing, slow and stupid. In addition, it could not be synced with my mobile’s phone book. I had to “hack” it: take the SIM out, put it in the mobile phone, copy all the numbers from the mobile to the SIM, stick it back into the car-phone, fix the butchered names (John Do~1, John Do~2, John Do~3), or at least the important ones, etc.
And if someone updated their number, god forbid, I had to update it manually on both phones. And it did not have text-to-speech, so I had to teach it how to pronounce the contact names if I wanted to use speech, eyes on the road and all that.
Still I got numbers I did not recognize, just like in the ‘before’ times. In that day and age, I expected more. I expected flying cars, but that aside, I expected the phone systems to provide me with a name, or the best approximation of a name (company, location) it can.
- Alice, upon buying her new phone, provides her name, the correct phonetic representation(s) of her name, selected web profiles, a flattering picture and a PIN number or some other password to grant permission to call her.
- Alice meets Bob, an old high school friend, and wants to keep in touch with him. She gives him her password.
- Bob looks up Alice, and provides the access password. His phone downloads her details from the network.
- Bob calls Alice, and Alice’s phone updates with his details.
It’s no rocket science, just applying the current social networking methodologies to the phone system. As for ‘private numbers’:
- Organizations must provide at least a company name and location.
- People who do not want to provide means for calling them back can provide limited information and no callback ability
- Those who want to remain anonymous can try to. Subscribers can decide if they want to allow anonymous calls, messages, etc.
Only one thing remains – backwards compatibility. Subscribers to POTS or older mobile phones can still have profiles and PIN numbers, even if they could not receive them. Until the subscribers create such profiles, the old caller id will still be supported. Maybe dad could get a new gadget, with an LCD screen showing the caller picture.