Time to rethink the phone call

20.12, Thursday 13 Apr 2023

I barely use the phone on my phone anymore, maybe once every 2–3 days. Usage is split evenly between making a call, receiving a call (50% spam/marketing), and missing a call.

Given it’s not working, maybe there’s room to rethink what a call is?

Maybe a call could

  • take advantage of there being a screen involved,
  • and lean into the idea that a call that I don’t answer can still be a successful call?

When a friend calls me, they should feel like they’re travelling to visit my phone. Like, they tap my name and they see themselves as a silver surfer zooming down tunnels - like the surf the BT Cellnet ad from 2000 (YouTube) - whatever it takes.

They arrive.

Maybe I’m not there. Then they can leave a note.

Maybe I am there but the door is shut because I’m busy. But perhaps I’m interruptible. Then they can ring the doorbell. A phone call is two steps: travelling to me, then choosing whether to interrupt me.

(This lobby space can have a few purposes. Perhaps I hang up a poster with info about why I’m busy. Or perhaps there’s an AI bot there who answers FAQs for me. Or - how about this - if someone else is visiting at the same time, my two visitors can hang out with each other, on my front stoop.)

Ok but say I’m in, and the call connects.

Then we can hang out, and I can drag other photos, docs, etc into the call. It’s a shared canvas.

At the end of the conversation, all the docs and a transcript/summary drops into my messages app.

Or, at the end, we decide we want to visit you next, so we need to see if you’re in. Tap your name. Off we surf, together.

I should sketch this.

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