This summer I went on vacation with my backpack, laptop, tablet and smartphone in tow. Beyond the obvious neurosis revealed by such behaviour, it was a great opportunity for some self-observation. From a personal perspective, I wanted to see which device came out on top. But for all that I accomplished with three devices, I carried far too much intelligence (and weight).
My iPad very quickly surpassed the rest. Whether I was checking emails, consulting maps and websites or playing games, it became clear that the tablet reflex is the most “natural.” My phone was also quite useful; I used it to take pictures, make phone calls and send SMS. Aside from serving as a safe place to save the pictures I took, my laptop stayed in my bag for most of the trip; it took too long to boot up and was difficult to use in the absence of a table. Although they are one of the finest inventions of the 20th century, laptops should be retired to the Museum of Obsolete Technology.
Given that I take my iPad and smartphone on most of my travels, I dream of a truly seamless integration between these two devices.
The photos I took on my phone should instantly be available on the big screen of the tablet, even when I have no Wi-Fi or 3G connections. I should be able to make phone calls with my iPad via the SIM card in my phone, just as I should be able to move applications from one device to another with a simple drag and drop. There are probably many other functions that could be invented to take into account the fact that my devices and I form a coherent ecosystem. Although many things are possible, they unfortunately aren’t seamless at all.
Bluetooth 4.0 has the potential to change all this. Without getting too technical, it will allow enabled devices to be in constant contact with each other within a 10 to 60 metre range all while consuming little power. While this was already possible via the cloud and previous versions of Bluetooth, it couldn’t run in the background and would drain the battery.
A tablet enabled with Bluetooth 4.0 will know if the paired phone has taken a new photo without any action performed by its owner. The tablet will become a TV set constantly waiting for the orders of the phone that would act as a remote control. Or, it can be used as a joystick and the tablet would become a console. One could reply via the tablet in the middle of a game to a SMS message received on the phones. The more we imagine applications for this new technology, the clearer it is that devices won’t continue to be independent.
Apple gives us a clue on when this could become real: in iOS 6, which will soon be launched with the new iPhone, Bluetooth 4.0 devices will have the ability to talk to each other in the background. This should motivate the imagination of “multi-devices” developers…
Read more from Jean Pascal at A Nos Vies Numériques.
At yesterday’s keynote presentation during the World Wide Developers Conference, Apple announced the impending arrival of iOS6. The evolution of Apple’s mobile operating system includes numerous features that cater to the real needs of real users.
Some examples to illustrate this idea:
This list of examples, although not exhaustive, shows that once again Apple has chosen to emphasize usability rather than technological prowess. Some will note, and rightly so, the lack of information surrounding how these new apps will collect user data. It’s a controversial topic: how far are we willing to share our personal data (contacts, location, movements, social interaction) if it is for a ‘good cause’? In this case, good cause is not to be disturbed unnecessarily during meetings while keeping peace of mind in emergencies, avoiding traffic jams and never having to worry about where your boarding pass is. Apple is smart to introduce these much-needed features, which will increasingly rely on their relevance to high penetration of the operating system. The use value is such that we do not hesitate to share our personal data.
Should we be worried? Who should regulate the use of this data?