A Friday evening. A great, yet interesting week behind me, several challenges ahead of me, but ignoring all that, I am sitting on a plane destined for Vienna so I can attend a family gathering.
The regular readers will know what that means. Yes, through the sole fact that I am sitting on a plane in seat 9A, we have an airplane post here! However, this post, unlike all the others, will actually be positive and make good points about the future of the mobile system, rather than rant about problems! Yeh, sounds good, doesn’t it? Well, it sounds good to me, and I hope it does for you to.
Just a quick update on things: the WordPress migration will happen shortly after Christmas, once I get my hosting sorted out. I also may find it harder to post regularly for a few weeks, as I, like I said, have many challenges ahead, including the Toyota technology challenge and my bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award! The next few weeks are going to be very interesting…
Moving on to the topic at hand, my great vision! As I have said before, I like Windows Phone 7 (WP7). “Shock, horror, how could he!”. It has a nice and intuitive UI along with a promising partnership with the largest mobile manufacturer worldwide, Nokia. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is a reason why I said promising. WP7 has the obvious disadvantage of being a new platform, late into the game, so there are clearly not going to be any decent apps on it for a while. It’s not going to take over the mobile phone market any time soon and it certainly will not be the first platform people think about when they are contemplating on which smartphone to buy. What I like specifically about the system is the improvement.
Strange statement there, granted, but can you see where I am getting at here? WP6.5 was THE worst system in the history of systems, well, except for Blackberry OS (sorry, had to put that in there!). It was truly the bastard offspring of a deformed mutant, the fattest kid in town who could hardly walk to the next paving slab. Terrible. WP7 provided a long overdue change with a completely new design. Don’t forget, it was only a 0.5 update, technically, but I can almost guarantee you it contains only about 1% of the old code of 6.5. What Microsoft did was brave, but completely necessary, and I applaud them for it. Please note that this does not mean Microsoft don’t suck, they just suck a little less now.
What Microsoft has done recently really surprised me. A few weeks ago, they released a demo of WP7 (7.5 to be precise) consisting of a simple HTML 5 web app, designed specifically for the iPhone and Android devices. You can enter the URL and have a nice fiddle with it and it’s core functions, although you cannot really do anything productive with it.
This tactic was subtle, yet a stroke of absolute genius! Think about it for a moment. A user will be used to his or her operating system and is therefore slightly skeptical of changing systems, not forgetting the whole apps/content transfer catastrophe. If a user is able to try the system, with a guided tour on how to use it, without hassle, obligation or commitment, he will see how the system reacts to his needs and tastes. I personally like this demo so much, it’s a permanent icon on my home screen, and I have announced on twitter that I will be hacking the living daylight out of my old 3GS to get WP7 and Android on there to dual boot. The only problem is, I have no idea how to do it, so I am just going to have to do a bit more research to get it to work, but I vow that one day, I shall proudly march into school with a WP7 iPhone 3GS in my hands!
This whole online mobile OS demo got me thinking, as many things do. There is a fundamental problem with the whole computing system, namely, native OS’s. Let me explain. With a computer, it will have a system installed on it, be it Mac OS 10.7, Windows 7 or MS-DOS. It is the intrinsic part of a computer, and that is not likely to change anytime soon. The problem lies with efficiency and content management. An OS requires the computer to do work in the background, constantly. What if the computer only needed to maintain an Internet connection, or less, just store a small file to enable offline work. The Chromebooks from Google are the closest we have come to that. Let the computer be the terminal, and make the server do all the work. Yes, this does not work for everything, like in the professional industries. But for people just wanting to store and work with files, check email and do a bit of browsing, it’s perfect!
There would be no need for updates, as the server could keep itself updated in real time, and whenever someone connects to the server, the update is there, already waiting to be used. There would be no long logs or caches slowing your beloved computer down and the whole thing could just work without the need for an intermediary syncing service, like iCloud. Wherever you are, on whatever system, everything is in sync.
And the same applies for mobile.
Rather than have an app here and a song there, everything should be everywhere all the time. That’s what iCloud is trying to do, but until the idiotic networks and studios cooperate, it does not work. You need something like Carbyn, which is exactly what I am kalking about! It’s an OS system for the phone, tablet and computer, which stays in sync and up-to-date no matter on what device you are using it from. Mobile should really become mobile: why should we have to worry about the damn syncing?
There are problems associated with lack of an Internet connection, granted, but for that, one can employ the same method the amazon online reader uses, namely, a local storage of only a few kilobytes to ensure continuous usage capability. The same can be done with a web-based OS, (not to be confused with WebOS…) where the server updates a local file on the computer whenever the computer can access the Internet.
If this method gets deployed, it would change the computing landscape, again. Phones, tablets and some computers would no longer act as the workstation, but the access point. This could drive down the prices of computers worldwide as very little processing power would be required. It would allow developers to develop for a wide range of devices using a single development platform and language. We would be able to switch between competing systems systems in a flash, if we decided to, thereby promoting more competition for the better system among companies.
The current way of computing, having the OS installed locally on the device, works, but is not great. An OS on the web will open up the world of computing to new opportunities. No need to update ever again, virtually unlimited battery life, thinner and lighter devices and most importantly, no damn syncing! The question remains though, how much do we really want to rely on a 3rd party and how much are we willing to relinquish to their servers? These, and many other questions will need to be answered before we can fundamentally change the world of computing. Again.