What I want to see in 2013 for mobile and not-so-mobile devices
2012 had a lot of interesting developments in the Android and HTC EVO worlds, and the technology world in general – we now have Chromebooks, the Microsoft Surface, Android tablets, phablets, and a few new Apple products all over the market, competing for eyespace.
If there is one thing I’d like to see in 2013, it’s that all of them should work together and be extensions of one another, rather than individual competing proprietary platforms.
Chrome, the browser, taught me a while ago the value of a networked browser. Anything I searched, and any site I visited in the past, was available from any other device capable of running Chrome, including my EVO, as long as I had my username and password to retrieve it. With the advent of Chrome Remote Desktop, even if I’d saved a file on my Mac and was at work on my PC, as long as Mac was still running, I could just jump in and get the file.
To step back in time a bit, email protocols like IMAP and Exchange allow multiple devices to access the exact same inbox. One of my employers is using Google Mail and Calendar with an iPhone, a Mac running Office 2012, and a PC running Office 2010, and everything works more or less the same. An email deleted on one is deleted everywhere. All devices see the same inbox.
Why do we have a different expectation of our mobile devices than we do of our email and our browsers? Why should I put down Angry Birds on my tablet when my wife needs it, and not be able to pick up at the same point on my EVO? The only difference between my tablet and my phone is that the data save directory exists on the device, and not in the cloud somewhere.
On Android, we already have a sync service that runs in the background. Across all devices, we have services like Dropbox, so it doesn’t seem like it would be that difficult for a platform to be incorporated in most applications that simply syncs the data on close, or checks for a newer revision on open.
With cloud-applications like Google Drive, you can save your document from a PC, load it up on an Android and make a change, and then finish off the thing on a Mac later in the day. Why do we have to have platform-anchored data any more? Why can my iPad version of Bad Piggies and my Sony Tablet running Android not let me continue my piggish fights?
Applications like Bluestacks allow you to run Android apps on PC and Macs, VMWare allows you to run Mac, Linux, etc. on a PC, and Parallels lets you run your PC apps on a Mac. The virtualization and abstraction Tower of Babel has been created, and it’s time to start thinking about the device not as a Mac, PC, Chromebook, Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, etc. It’s an extension, a window to what we want to see.
So that’s what I’d like to see this year: apps from the App Store, from Google Play, Windows Marketplace, etc., that work seamlessly from one device to another. I think the idea to strive to forget is that a device is its applications, and what should be embraced in a device is an extension of you that can be accessed from anything you want it on.