Dick Tracy the Future?

dick-tracyWelcome to the future. Well, Dick Tracy’s future anyway. The world has now been gifted by “smart watches”.

First, a disclaimer. I love my Moto 360. It’s awesome. You can argue that it doesn’t do anything that my phone didn’t already do, and you’re right. In fact, it does less than my phone. I think that’s just fine.

Here’s what I want from my smartphone.

  1. Notifications
  2. Maps
  3. Activity tracking
  4. Not much else

See, a watch is a convenience. Even non-smartwatches don’t do anything that a clock can’t do. The reason it’s there is it’s convenient. I don’t want or need it to do anything else, but there are those that disagree with me.

Now, let’s ignore the fact that Jonny Evans is a shill for Apple. He’s advocating for the Apple watch here, but it really doesn’t matter. His idea is that the watch “must ultimately replace the phone.” Personally, I think that’s a horrible idea. I think that the watch should be a phone accessory, and that the phone should ultimately replace the computer.

Watch as Phone – Dick Tracy Style

Let’s look at how this works. Your watch is your phone. OK, so how do you talk on it? It’s not exactly optimally placed to hold it up to your head, so you’re going to have to do one of two things.

  1. Speaker phone
  2. External earpiece and microphone

Speaker phones ultimately make any private conversation you’re trying to have public. Not to mention the damage powering speakers would have to the battery life of the watch. An external earpiece would be fine, but then you’re carrying extra stuff around with you just to make a private call. Neither of these options seems particularly good. Having a watch as an accessory seems like it would be just as effective. There are already several watches on the market that can make a phone call via wifi or bluetooth if connected to a phone. This solution seems like it would provide all the benefits that could be found in a “watch phone”, and only one possible negative: If you’re away from WiFi, you have to carry a phone with you.

Phone as Computer – NOT Dick Tracy Style

I see things going the other direction. I see the phone becoming the hub of our digital lives. I’ve written about this before, but I feel like I need to reiterate some of these points and clarify a little bit. I see, for most people, the phone becoming the only computer they’ll ever need. I think that in the near future, computers for the average user, will be overkill. People will own a phone that connects to their data in the cloud. If a person wants a desktop computer, they’ll be able to connect a single USB-C connector to their phone that will hook their phone to an external keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Their OS will automatically detect that they’ve gone into “desktop mode”, and switch from a single app full screen view to a more typical desktop setup with windowed applications and easy multitasking. They can easily carry their work and home life in a pocket and charge while they’re working.

Android is optimally placed for this to work. With it’s roots supported by Linux, it can easily accommodate any kind of device. Ubuntu is also a good choice. Android has good support for a mobile setup, but Ubuntu is better supported on the desktop. Both need work, but I’d put my bets on Google. News has already started to spread about a possible convergence between Android and ChromeOS. Google wouldn’t have to go full merger to make this work, just borrow some of ChromeOS’s functionality and add it to Android. Since both are based on Linux, it’s not a huge leap.

I don’t mean this for all people. I don’t think that desktop computers are going to replace servers any time soon, and I don’t think that phones will replace all desktop computers any time soon. There are just some tasks that you’re going to need a full workstation for.

Many, even possibly most, of the people I communicate with on a day to day basis will be among those that can never make a phone work as their only computer.

The trick is, the people I communicate with aren’t typical users. They code and do graphics and video production. They play games that make the most of what computer hardware has to offer. For these people, a phone is just not going to be a workable solution, but that doesn’t meant hat it won’t work for most people.

Sorry Dick Tracy, but I think you can keep your watch phone.

Disagree? I’d love to hear your perspective. Where do you think this is going to go?

 

 

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