This is a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, especially seeing Apple is now reaching 30 years with the Mac.
I think it’s inevitable that we all want larger screens, the 3.5″, 4″, 4.7″ screens although handy to slip into your pocket aren’t quite the right size. I do believe the Phablet screen size between 5-6″ as being the sweet spot. This is already happening on Android and now Windows Phone with the latest Nokia 1520 and I hope Apple do adopt the same strategy and create a larger iPhone to facilitate that. I love the iPad Air and use the iPad mini even more than my iPad Air mainly because of the screen size. Weight isn’t an issue now with me on the iPad Air like it was on the iPad 3 or iPad 4, the screen is gorgeous and large but for the mobile user taking it with you even in a shoulder bag is cumbersome. A smaller tablet or even better a larger phone to bridge the gap would be better. The iPad mini is a 7.9″, the iPad Air is 9.7″, if we could have something around the 5.9″ I think that would be the sweet spot for a phone. A little oversized for your pocket, yes. However, it would be more usable on a daily basis. I find the font sizes on the iPhone 5S even though the screen is larger than the iPhone 4S just becoming too small, or is it just my eyes are deteriorating over time? Most likely a bit of both.
So what about the desktop device? Microsoft had this vision of the original Surface table top where you have a screen built into a coffee table or desk.
That’s fine and it’s a large screen but if you think about it you’ll be more hunched over your desk and cranking your neck and be more susceptible to RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) spawning an entire new legal vertical not to mention health insurance vertical being the net result. Certainly I’d like to see larger screens, I have a 27″ sandwiched between two 24″ monitors on my desk, my TV is a 55″ TV and I use my Mac daily on that too, having a larger screen would be great, but I think having a tabletop integrated monitor in the horizontal layout is just wrong. If it was tilted slightly, maybe, but still you’re arching your back and cranking your neck. A larger vertical monitor like we have on our desks now or wall mounted monitor iI think is the better way to go. That means though NO TOUCH! You won’t want to be touching a monitor at arms length because it just doesn’t feel natural. Maybe we’ll see larger tablets in the 12″ and 14″ realm, certainly there’s a lot of news going around since CES2014 that Apple may be looking at a 12″ iPad and I’m sure Samsung will be looking to exploit every inch as a new product in the next few years to come.
For me the biggest technology improvement I would like to see is battery improvement. My devices drain fast, I usually carry 2-3 phones with me. Don’t even ask why, other than sometimes it’s easier to keep the phone rather than selling it when you upgrade, but more so it gives you another full phone of battery. I do have battery chargers, I have, let me see, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5x 12000 mAh chargers and 2x 5000 mAh chargers, and I use these regularly, trust me! I usually carry one around with me in my Tactical backpack or coat pocket.
We need better battery performance and better battery management on devices. Let’s take the second of those two evils, Apple, Microsoft, Google are all looking at ways to optimise battery along with Intel also with their newer low powered chips, but it’s still not enough. I think we have surpassed the need for a device to be slim. Let’s face it most of us add protective cases to our devices which bulk them out, if the devices were bulked out to start with that would allow for more battery to be stored. We also need more innovation, whether it’s putting gyro’s into devices that somehow not only detect movement like many already do, but with friction when we walk allow just like a car dynamo to help recharge the battery. Even if it’s 10-20 minutes extra battery per day it’s a start. I know some wearable tech companies are examining ways to build this into our shoes and store power that way, but unless you want to look like you’re skipping with a rope having a cable running from your shoes up your trouser leg, again I don’t think this is a viable option.
Other semi-wearable tech companies are building rechargeable batteries into their backpacks/rucksacks. This I think is a good move, although so far most of these are only 5000 mAh batteries, which gives you 2x the power of the phone already, really not a lot. Why not stick a larger, thinner battery pack in as a supportive back plane running 12000 mAh instead? Once you have a backpack on your back, weight becomes less of an issue, however there is the problem of again running a cable form the backpack into your hand if you’re using and charging the phone at the same time.
Another set of wearable tech companies are trying to provide additional pockets in coat ‘tech’ jackets or build batteries into them, again a good move, personally as I mentioned, I carry a 12000 mAh battery around in the inside pocket of my coat, it’s the most convenient way for me to get extra battery life. However, these are all only stop gaps, we need better battery innovation and better device innovation here to actually IMPROVE battery times not just find of ways around the poor battery performance.
Tablets have certainly evolved over the past 3 years into something most of us are carrying, they are getting better, thinner, lighter, with more battery.
The wearable watch that connects to your phone has already surfaced, I have an I’m Watch, there’s Pebble too along with several other makes of watches but they’re all pretty dismal. A year or more ago I wanted one of these, I bought the I’m Watch and I realised just how bad it was. I’m lucky if it will last for 18 hours between charges.
It needs to be connected via Portable Hotspot to my Phone which is a real pain, the screen size although large for a watch is too small to do anything on it barring seeing 2 lines of text from the latest email or tweet that came in. It’s pretty pathetic really, and I really don’t see these improving much. We already know what we want with our phones, it’s a larger screen, so why go to an even smaller screen for a watch?
I think the biggest area though for wearable tech will be voice gestures. Siri already does this on iPhone although somewhat limited in what you can do, Samsung have their own version too, Microsoft have it for XBOX One which is a lot better than the previous incarnation but sometimes it goes deaf and doesn’t hear me even in a quiet room. It seems when the processors are maxed out when playing a game it just doesn’t hear me say “SAVE THAT” no matter how clear or loud I say it.
These will get a lot better and I think these will become the main way we interface with our tech in the next decade more than touching the screen. However we still need to touch the screen, like to scroll text, even if we could dictate reply with voice. Certainly another area is the Google Glass initiative, I first thought I’d love to have this in front of me, but the more time goes by without having Google Glass the more I believe all I’d use it for would be to record a short video. Maybe the 2nd, 3rd or 4th iteration though will show a lot more promise and make me want to have that.
The biggest innovation I would like to see is the 1 terabyte blisteringly fast internet speeds, or even gigabit speeds but not just spotty coverage like we get on 3G or 4G at best now, it needs to be connected around the country or the world like you’re connected to a cable at home, perfect wireless data connections without drops, blisteringly fast speeds that we’ll all be happy with, this is the biggest area for me along with batteries that tech companies need to make improvements on over the next few years. 4G is getting there but if we can’t role out 3G coverage everywhere then what’s the point? Why not put an antenna in every other street lamp, a connected Wifi or WiMax grid with very little black spots unless you’re 20ft under ground. If we can achieve better battery performance and always connected then this will certainly drive innovation on all tech products so much more than we have seen in the last 10 years.