Where smartphones grow: a roadmap to becoming a full-fledged computer

    There is some reason to speculate about the exhausting smartphone market amid falling sales: it seems that the modern era of smartphones launched by the iPhone and built on the development of the potential for ideas built into it is coming to an end. But this is not the end of the era in the full sense of the word, but only a brewing evolutionary transition in the chain phone → mobile phone → smartphone → smart (?). Most likely, at the next stage, this will no longer be a “background”, and a huge number of specific and inalienable ones today can be moved outside of it (like, for example, memory) or just change so much (like, for example, input and output methods ), that there’s no sense in operating with categories that are familiar nowadays. After deducting all possible “variables”, in an attempt to leave only the very minimum necessary, I got 4 conditions: Portable Personal Communication Computing Device. But what is more important here is not what will ensure the coherence of generations, but rather what will give this device a new quality, which will allow us to talk about the next stage of evolution.

    And one of the most promising and designed ideas of “new quality” that fits perfectly into these four parameters is, in fact, a long and well-known idea to push the full functionality of a powerful PC into the form factor of a smartphone. The advantage of this option is that its value is quite obvious, in contrast to the movement along the path of AR or VR mutation, which adds the necessary additional unknown - the creation of a certain VR or AR feature, which will become an absolute must have, justifying development focused on implementation its capabilities.

    While the already understandable advantages that a reinvention of a PC in the smart format will give are enough to actively root for it.

    Previous post: “ Where smartphones grow .”

    1. The solution to the problem of fragmentation of devices, operating systems, software. To the old difficulties of changing platforms - for example, switching from Windows to Mac OS, there was also an internal division into mobile and “full-fledged” operating systems that feel more alien to each other than connected even in the case of a pair of Mac OS-iOS, which talk about the bulk of consumers, which market competition has led to a pair of Windows-Android.
    2. Solving the problem of software fragmentation. I remember in discussing the chances of Windows Phone challenging the mobile operating systems of Apple and Google, I first read the idea that the most important parameter of a smartphone is the number of applications available for it. To this we can add that reducing the number of platforms will release the latent potential of their development, making their development both cheaper, faster and more attractive due to a decrease in user segmentation.
    3. The solution to the problem of multi-platform sites. We are talking about attempts by sites to master mobile platforms, the complexities of which can be demonstrated directly on the example of Habr, in addition to the desktop version of launching and re-launching a mobile application and, at the same time, developing a mobile version of the site, trying to maintain balance, juggling with all three - and, finally, making a choice in favor of developing a mobile version of the site. The choice, in my opinion, is the best now possible, but how much it took away from users the features that we could get, if the forces spent on the application were immediately aimed at developing the web version. A single OS will save you from a costly unnecessary entity, and the development of output methods can send into the past the mandatory development for mobile and full-size screens.
    4. Ending competition between smartphones and tablets with laptops. The laptop market seems to be showing signs of growth - however, most likely, due to the even greater cannibalization of the share of desktops. The competition between laptops and portable devices has always been one-sided: gadgets attacked laptops - and there is no reason to believe that this will somehow change, because a) laptops with powerful smartphones are in the same price category, obviously putting a lot of users before a choice, b) abandoning a smartphone in favor of a laptop is almost impossible because of compactness, mobility and better coverage by mobile networks than Wi-Fi - only to supplement it, while rejecting a PC / laptop in favor of smartphones / tablet - real and affordable alternative, albeit with compromises conjugate of varying severity for many. There is nothing good in this cannibalization of markets - primarily for laptop users. I’m quite happy with the “unloading” of laptops from memory and the processor, turning them into thin clients focused on the keyboard-display-column triad, if this makes them easier, wider range and more affordable prices.

    The fact that many companies have unsuccessfully experimented with turning a smartphone into one thing to rule them all in one form or another (Asus smartphone tablets come to mind, for example, all sorts of concepts) also adds optimism, paradoxically, if we consider every failure an attempt as a step in the right direction. In the end, before the iPhone appeared on the market, there were such communicators as HP, Microsoft, Compaq (remember?), Whose high mission, in the end, was clearing the minefield for those following them.

    On this, the optimistic part ends so far, because the line of reconciliation with reality has come.

    On the way to turning an iPhone into a Mac mini there are three main challenges, three tasks that need to be addressed:

    • software;
    • battery;
    • memory.

    Soft One of the main reasons to root for combining a computer with a smartphone in one form factor - a universal operating system - is also the biggest difficulty on the way to creating this hybrid.

    The good news is that the whole big three manufacturers of Apple, Google and Microsoft are working on the problem, and in three different directions. Bad - intermediate results for each of them.

    Apple has officially chosen the path to iOS compatibility with Mac OS, announcing work on the possibility of launching mobile applications in a desktop environment. The fulfillment of this promise began with the release of Mac OS Mojave in 2018, in the default installation kit of which four of their own iOS applications appeared. It looks like a good idea that will expand the range of affordable laptop applications with the AppStore giant mobile portfolio and allow some developers to focus on developing a product for one platform instead of two. However, from the point of view of a single platform, the movement, in theory, should go in the opposite direction - adaptation of desktop applications, including heavy and resource-intensive work tools for a mobile environment. In general, the road ahead looks even longer.

    Microsoft in the creation of a single OS pioneer - a bad example for all guys. The change of the ancient, from the time of the communicators of the pre-iPhone era of the mobile OS to the completely new Windows Phone in 2010 was not only a little late looking attempt to gain a foothold in the market shared between Android and iOS, but also, on the contrary, an advanced initiative to create a universal operating system system. In Windows 8, released in 2012, a user account first became end-to-end based on an online user account, and elements of a “tiled” Metro design transplanted from WinPhone appeared in the interface. Transplanted too rude: without imagination stretched laconic and stylish on the screen in 5-6 "elements of the mobile interface already on notebook 13-15" looked wretched. The apogee was the replacement of the usual “Start” panel with tiles stretched across the entire screen,

    Windows 8 leaves a double impression - it is a step forward and a jump to the side at the same time. Redrawing the desktop interface according to the patterns of mobile OS is an architectural madness. - “ What's wrong with Windows 8

    In the update of Windows 8.1, there was a rollback to the previous concept of "Start". With the closure of Windows Phone and the release of Windows 10 in 2015, Microsoft's efforts focused on gradually redesigning the desktop OS design into a touch interface. Recently, I happened to appreciate the success of MS in this field, when I had to transfer to the old Lenovo Carbon X1 with a touch screen for a week. The number of redrawn interface windows has grown significantly, but is still far from complete. The quality of the redrawing is also generally depressing - the good old-fashioned desktop mode with keyboard controls turned out to be much more convenient than the tablet mode, despite the touch screen.

    Google, for lack of a desktop OS in the portfolio, went by turning Chrome browser into the OS - its best product for desktop OSes and, I believe, the most popular desktop application in principle, given its cross-platform nature.

    This clearly makes sense, and makes a lot of sense, but no loud breakthroughs have yet been heard. The advantage of Google is a unique opportunity for the big three to re-invent the operating system from scratch, and what a huge amount really, for the most part, is needed on a computer, mainly a browser.

    However, the part of the audience that needs other applications, including a huge array of professional software, Google is clearly not shining. It is this segment that creates demand for maximum hardware capabilities, preventing MS and Apple from simply abandoning the legacy of desktop operating systems in which their work environments have developed over the years - and will be ready to pay for them, which means the possibility of a significant stratification by Google device classes, with one parties, and Apple with Microsoft, on the other.

    The old phobia of being “banned in Google” keeps me from a possible transition to the browser-axis: to lose mail and documents in itself would be a hard blow, and to lose everything at all - I’m just not ready to put so many eggs in a basket of people firing engineers for constructive comments on the gender policy of the company, and developing a search engine dictated by the totalitarian regime of the PRC. The further, the less I trust Google - they no longer look geek-friendly geeks, and, even worse - they look confused.

    Battery. The second big difficulty in creating a hybrid computer with a smartphone, although not so critical.

    It is obvious to me for a number of reasons that the phone that will replace the PC must communicate with the peripherals without wires, but the main thing here, of course, is the issue of convenience. For me, the recently discovered “ecosystem” feature of Apple, which allows launching Wi-Fi distribution on iPhone from the MacBook, became a small probe of the future for me. It would seem that taking the phone, starting the distribution and climbing into the laptop is not the most difficult procedure, but the ability to skip the first two steps and immediately open the laptop, already being connected to Wi-Fi, the distribution of which has switched on to the iPhone, which is still in your pocket - This is one of the little things that good products tenaciously keep their nuclear audience.

    At the same time, it is obvious that the main load in this scenario rests with the battery, which the distribution of the Internet eats mercilessly. What can I say about the gadget, which at the same time handles many gigahertz processes and exchanges many gigabytes of data with peripherals and the Internet - it needs a battery, like the Kamaz, which, so far, is incompatible with mobility - or reality.

    The second and perhaps even more viable option is to use stationary peripherals such as large monitors as wireless charging stations; although this will require a breakthrough regarding the current level of development of wireless charging. How bad everything is there can be judged by how poorly my Belkin is working now, and after two years of not leaving the stage "just now, very soon" Apple's promises to make better.

    Memory.To the disappointment of the followers of the cult of lack of memory on laptops and phones , I repeat that the increase in memory size on the devices themselves has nothing to do with it.

    Keeping a terabyte of personal data on a device that is so easy to use is crazy. Keeping them at the other device at your disposal contradicts the whole concept: of course, you can do it, but for this you have to carry “another device” with you, while retaining the risk for this part of users to try both of them - without improving the position of the others.

    The most meaningful solution, satisfying the completeness of the professional and personal needs of the user in memory, is remote storage. Optional third-party cloud - they can serve as a home server; complexity in the absence of the necessary reliable high-speed wireless communications. 5G should solve this problem - but for this, it first needs to be launched and deployed in all its promised glory.

    At the same time, the drive itself on such a gadget can be a terabyte, and two, or more - this does not contradict the whole concept, just is not a key factor in the ability to implement it.

    As soon as a suitable OS appears, wireless charging like that of Tesla (which is Serb, and not which car) and 5G are deployed with coverage no worse than GSM.

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