Where Do Smartphones Go From Here? [You Told Us]

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The smartphone revolution is in full swing, with these small (unless you’re a Galaxy Note owner) handheld devices replacing the need for various other single-use products. While a swathe of the population still owns feature phones, which hold a certain nostalgic appeal, smartphones are slowly but surely taking over the world, with Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry (at the time of writing) providing the backdrop to our mobile lives.

While smartphone addiction is a legitimate problem, the benefits of these Internet-connected portable computers far outweigh the negatives, even if the occasional annoying conversation with someone busy typing on their phone is an inevitable consequence of their ubiquity. This is the present, but what of the future?

The Results

We asked you, Where Do Smartphones Go From Here? This question got a fair number of responses, most of which varied in their predictions or wishes for the future of smartphones.

The major trend seen through the comments is the idea that the smartphone form factor we know today won’t be around for ever. They’re already more than just phones, with the “smart” part of the name being much more in keeping with their main usage, and the future is only going to see that trend continue.

Whether it be wearable augmented reality devices such as Google Glasses, or integration into other hardware (which we’ve already seen in a small way with the Galaxy Camera) the idea of carrying around a handheld device may soon be an old and outdated concept. Until then the hardware and operating systems that power it will continue to improve in small increments.

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Comment Of The Week

We had great input from the likes of Rajaa Chowdhury, Chris Lucier, and Clint Norwood, to name just a few. Comment Of The Week goes to Lisa Santika Onggrid, who receives the respect of myself and hopefully everybody reading this:

Aside of being bulkier and stop being ‘mobile’? Seriously, not much more or they should rebrand it into ‘mini computer’. If you ask me how much a phone can be expanded, I’d say we’ve reached the limit. It’s now so bloated and no longer just a phone. For better or worse, phablets would become increasingly common in the future. and with alternatives to charge on the go, you’ll be carrying full-fledged computer in your pocket.

Do we actually need it to be that fast? Do we actually need a machine capable of doing anything a laptop can do? I don’t think so. Even if it’s capable, many things are more comfortable done with bigger screen (and other environment factor). I think with the rising amount of apps available for phones of all OSes and platforms, I can already do anything I want my phone to do. We, the all-curious all-demanding humans decide to push it even further. Take a look around at app store of your favorite mobile OS. Some apps are so niche I can’t believe someone actually made such things.

Moving on to OS war, I think Android will catch on iOS soon. As ‘innovative’ Apple is said to be, as I pointed earlier, we’re already stretching everything from a phone. In a long run Android’s more open system would enable users personalize it to suit their needs and expanding the OS. With Ubuntu now trying to make an entrance to mobile OS ground, things are getting more interesting.

Currently makers like Nokia, Samsung, and Apple are facing what game console makers used to face. It doesn’t matter anymore who make the hardware. It’s the software that counts. We used to be tied to manufacturers because they dictate every feature in the phone (back before smartphone and J2ME), but now we can choose what to use and install by ourselves. Perhaps, as unlikely it might sound, one day we would assemble our own phones just like we build our own PCs.

This comments brings up several important points. Firstly, at what point do smartphones stop being smartphones and instead move into the realm of pocket computers? There are already large numbers of people who have switched many of the tasks they used to do on their computer over to their phone. If this evolution does occur then will smartphones go the way of PCs and be more open and interchangeable, clearing the way for self-builds? It’s an intoxicating prediction for the future.

We will be asking a new question tomorrow, so please join us then. We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. We ask you a question and you tell us what you think. The question is open-ended and is usually open to debate. Some questions will be purely opinion-based, while others will see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps for your fellow MakeUseOf readers. This column is nothing without your input, all of which is valued.

Image Credit: Jacob Botter

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