In case you missed it, apparently the evolution of the smartphone has come to a halt. Improvements in mobile technology have plateaued and unless you’re the sort who studies spec sheets, the competitive advantage largely lies in brand perception and price. If you own a smartphone purchased in the last year, you’re probably going to have all the functionality you need. No new release is going to get anyone out of their seats to proclaim that we’ve entered a new technological age. According to Robinson Meyer of The Atlantic, “this slowing of smartphone design—indeed, this retrocession [in reference to the iPhone SE]—is just one more signifier of our new era of technological boredom.”
There are about 7.4 billion people in the world today and in 4 years it’s expected that there will be 6.1 billion smartphones in circulation (TechCrunch, 2015). At some point, smartphones became our truly mobile connection to the online world. Then it was a bridge between our online and offline worlds; all our usual hangouts and organisations have apps that sit on the interface of our phones. Today you can fulfill the entire spectrum of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs through your smartphone without shifting from your couch. Hell, the only part of your body you need to move are those thumbs of yours.
So what’s next? When I read about retailers trying to use mobile in store to provide information to customers, it seems a bit archaic now. Search is standard, same with updates on sales and promotions. I can spend money, save money, check how much money I have in the bank, check my heart rate, find a mate, gets texts from my doctor, check in to meditate. But I still have got to open those apps on my phone.
Why is there still that permission to access, that lingering feeling of distance, between a piece of technology, which I carry with myself all day and interact with more than anyone in the world? It’s like having a most intimate relationship with someone but still having the responsibility of making the first move all the time. Maybe that’s where the next revolution will be. Maybe apps will really fade into the background and all you will have to do is connect with is one personal interface, like in the movie Her. I don’t know. I’m still waiting to see something that doesn’t make me go ‘meh’. Until then I don’t think I’ll need to invest in upgrading my phone anytime soon.