Just the Fax

I have good news for you. It’s the year 2014 here on planet earth, almost 2015. Yes, that’s a relative, arbitrary time scale, but it still points to the fact we’ve been tracking our progress for awhile. So you’d think we’re actually improving things, wouldn’t you?

Unfortunately, some people still insist on an ancient technology known as faxing in order to relay information. Recently I had to fax some financial documents to a company, and I really wanted to enlighten them about my feelings with the following joke:

“Could you send the information via fax please?”

“I’m afraid I can’t do that because of where I live.”

“Where do you live?”

“In the 21st century.”

Still, I thought, it IS 2014, and we can fax without fax machines now. All I need is my iPhone.

In fact, using just my iPhone and the apps Readdle Scanner Pro and my new favorite, Scanbot, I scanned in all the documentation I needed and made beautiful pdf documents that were complete, clear, and easy to read. Scanning with a modern iPhone is a thing of beauty. There are multiple scanner apps that can find the borders and adjust for angle automatically and create really nice multiple page pdf documents for you. If you haven’t used Evernote’s incredibly great business card scanning function, for example, you might as well be living in a cave and scratching out your messages and notes on a dirt wall.

Then there’s the actual faxing. And it all comes crashing down, and you finally bite the bullet and just drive the three miles to work and use their old-fashioned fax machines instead. At least that’s what happened to me.

Most iOS apps that provide faxing services do so via in-app purchase of credits. It takes X number of credits to end X number of pages. In my case, my scanned document wound up being 23 pages or something like that. It was larger than a typical fax, in other words. No problem, it was important and I needed to get it in before 9 AM the following day.

Fax effort one was made using JotNot Fax. The Mobitech website describes JotNot Fax like this:

JotNot Fax turns your iPhone and/or iPad into a portable, outbound fax machine. Use JotNot Fax to send PDF files to any US or Canadian fax number from anywhere.

Using JotNot Fax is easy. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Import a PDF document
  2. Enter a destination number.
  3. Hit “Send”.

That’s it! Now, how easy is that? Seriously.

Well, it certainly SOUNDS easy, I have to agree with that. The problem is, it’s not. It’s not, because you pay for it via IAP and the credits you receive for your IAP are used immediately upon trying to send the fax. That means if the app immediately crashes upon the fax attempt, which JotNot Fax did for me, you lose the credits because when you relaunch the app, it hasn’t realized, “Hey, that failed miserably and in fact nothing was sent! Here are your credits! Let’s try again!” Instead, it tells you that you have 0 credits and you need to purchase them all over again if you want to even think about sending a fax.

Then I realized that Readdle Scanner Pro is not only a really good scanning app, it also has fax capability for the same IAP credits model as JotNot Fax. I’ve used this app many times in the past, it used to be my favorite scanning app before Scanbot’s latest update. It’s always been reliable. Readdle has always done great work. So I decided to trust it and purchase $5 worth of IAP to just get the fax sent and be done with it.

Except it crashed too. And it used all my credits too.

I made another credit purchase, and then I had a connection error. And my credits were gone.

I am not the most patient man in the universe, I’m sorry to say. At this point, I was gripping my iPhone so tightly I’m surprised it didn’t snap. I guess Jony Ive had me in mind when he designed the iPhone 5s.

So, yeah. 2014. People still want faxes. And we still can’t give them their precious little faxes without risking spending $20 trying to get it sent. It seems crazy to me. It seems crazy that anyone wants faxes, although they probably are more secure for sensitive documents than shooting off an email with a PDF. It seems crazy that we can’t just tap a button and know it’s going to happen without having to snap our iPhones in frustration as we swallow the words that want to flow out of our mouths.

Make it happen, geniuses. No one needs another stupid messaging service. Just make something that on the rare occasions I need to fax someone, I can do it without wanting to quit technology and become a goat herder and EMP builder.