Home > Critical Thinking, Current Affairs, Musings, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism, Technology > How iOS and Android Will Affect PC Evolution

How iOS and Android Will Affect PC Evolution

Let me start by asking you two related questions-

1. What do you use your desktop/laptop for? Focus on activities and usage, not software.

2. Ever noticed that you use them less since you bought an iPhone, iPad or Android device?

Most smartphones were pretty restricted in their abilities before the iPhone came out. Even though Windows Mobile and Palm based phones had ‘apps’ and functionality other than PIM, email and web browsing- they were not common for a variety of reasons we shall not pursue at this moment. Blackberries were essentially PIM + e-mail devices.

The iOS and Android based smartphones have increased the functionality of smartphones in ways most people cannot yet fully comprehend. Many activities previously restricted to desktops and laptops can now be done on smartphones and tablets- often more conveniently than before.

Don’t believe me.. try un-hibernating your smartphone (less than 2 seconds) and searching for something on google via voice search to receive your search results (less than 10 seconds) or check your email, FaceBook feed, twitter status (typically 5-10 seconds). The same is true for online videos, whether they are from YouTube, dailymotion, Vimeo or Netflix. Many FPS games load in 10-20 seconds. I can write a quick reply or post a 1-3 sentence update by simply speaking into the phone. Then there is google earth, webcams, photo-sharing sites, RSS feeds etc. Many work related apps now also have a iOS/Android lite version- which is not really surprising since many of them have more computational power than average desktops from the early 2000s.

It is hard to ignore that many desktop applications are slow, buggy and poorly designed compared to their mobile counterparts. This does not imply that the desktop or laptop will die out- bu they will have to adapt. The simplest adaptation might be a much faster, always on OS running highly responsive applications with dual modes (mobile and desktop) so that people can use them with more ease. To some extent this is already happening in Windows 8 and the latest version of OS X.

However those changes are just the beginning. The direction of development is now towards seamless access on various devices depending on its dimensions and your needs. Think in terms of something like querying Google by voice on your smartphone and easily pushing those results on your laptop screen first as a barebones result which can then become as detailed as you want it to be before a one step transfer of the high information content data-sets back to your smartphone for future use.

For this to occur in a consumer friendly manner the current GUI paradigm, menus, functionality of desktop applications will have to change- as the desktop app will have to behave and look like its mobile version while still packing more functionality and options. Even the OS will have to change as it makes little sense to wait a minute to boot up a laptop so that it can talk to your smartphone. An always on OS with a minimal number of drivers and core functionality integrated into the full OS is going to become the norm- much sooner than you think. Apple might get there first because their OSes are already similar and the hardware is tightly controlled- reducing the potential for incompatibility.

The real fun will begin when kinect type devices meld with desktop and mobile devices to form a seamless user experience, such that the user can access, process, analyse, share and input any type or form of information. There is that pesky question about whether people would still want to interact with real people around them..


  1. September 5, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    diablo, in a few years smart phones will be obsolete…..

    as far as kinect, I guess that will soon replace your beloved escorts…..

  2. hans
    September 6, 2011 at 2:40 am

    Good points. I also noticed how Win8 looks basically like an annoying flash web page.

    Though the “PC is dying” cries are about as old as the first marketing hype to sell the newest, coolest game console.

    I´m not putting much value in the Micro$hit Kinect marketing hype either. Waving at the computer/TV will never replace proper input hardware, just like it didn´t back in the day of the “virtual reality gloves”.
    And don´t get me started on the 3D hype either.

    Basically it boils down to the user and what he needs. Gaming and work will still be done on the good old desktop or sitting in front of the TV/game console.
    Casual usage though will migrate even more to next-gen smartphones. Especially if they manage to overcome the power consumption and tiny display problem.

    Just recently saw some “Earth:Final Conflict” reruns. “OLED” bricks like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qWARY1out6E&feature=player_detailpage#t=390s
    will be the game changer.

  1. December 22, 2012 at 7:18 pm

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