With regard to my post on Tawkon, ima2seven asked my opinion about various smartphone options. She didn’t know what she was getting into! So instead of replying in the comments, I’ll post my response here:I love my iPod Touch as an iPod and mini-portable computer, BUT absolutely prefer my Blackberry as a smartphone (that’s why I have a Touch and not an iPhone). Blackberry is a much better fit for me, in terms of phone and email usability. For example, my biggest uses (no particular order) of my smartphone are: check new emails, phone functions, send myself notes via email to act upon when I get back to my desk, camera and calendar. I use (with less frequency) podcasting and music features, Google maps, Twitter, Facebook, alarm clock.It’s important to note that the Blackberry is MUCH less convenient for syncing to my Mac than the Nokia E71 it replaced. The E71 synced wirelessly and flawlessly via Bluetooth, keeping my computer and phone contacts and calendars up to date. The Blackberry will not sync to iCal (despite claims to do so), and is erratic and unpredictable about syncing with the contacts. It also requires a special USB cable to sync (none of my 100 other micro-USB cables fit the BB).[As an aside, whichever smartphone you decide to go with, you must first backup your contacts, email, calendars and bookmarks before attempting to sync it to your computer! This will save you a lot of grief if you manage to accidentally overwrite your computer with your empty smartphone instead of vice-versa.]The lack of calendar sync keeps me teetering on the verge of switching back to Nokia or iPhone, but the vastly better email and phone functions keep me with Blackberry. The speed of opening, composing and sending emails from Blackberry is unmatched, for now.I have no personal experience using an Android phone. But here’s a typical quote, tweeted just yesterday by a very tech-savvy colleague who works in the mobile industry, albeit not a programmer:
“almost destroyed my android phone today of rage, because of the time I lost trying to make it a great phone and realizing I won’t succeed. I will stick to my love-hate iPhone for now and patiently wait for WIN7 phones to show up. cannot wait to synchronize Outlook with my phone, and mirror my inbox etc. […] will always be a fun tool for application developers, a phone for geeks and Google adepts, but for a simply rooted guy like me using MS Outlook and few cloud apps, this is not going to work.”
I expect it’s just a little too early for most people to move to Android, unless you are either a programmer, or someone who keeps most of your data in Google’s cloud, anyway (GMail, GMail contacts, Google Calendars, Google Reader, etc.).The upshot: Choosing a smartphone depends on how you really behave when you are mobile. Your real smartphone choices are a QWERTY-keyboard Blackberry (if email and calling is a big part of your day); iPhone (if you mostly want a great iPod and a phone rolled into one, or you’re on a Mac and desire seamless syncing with your computer and MobileMe); and Nokia enterprise phones (if you value great calling functions and sound quality above all else, and don’t want to sacrifice any other features, even if they take a few more keytaps to reach. Nokia phones are fabulously hardy, and gorgeous, too.).Good luck, ima2seven, and I hope you’re happy with your new smartphone!
Product Reviewed: Tawkon (www.tawkon.com) version 1.0.1 tested on a BlackBerry 9700 (Onyx).
The upshot: While documentation and online help for purchasing and troubleshooting are still sketchy, Tawkon is a remarkable application, and comes as close as I’ve ever seen to achieving the Holy Grail of “Set It and Forget It” as any application out there. Tawkon should be considered a vital utility for every mobile phone.
Tawkon describes itself as “a mobile phone application that gives users information and tools to avoid mobile phone radiation as much as possible, with minimal disruption to normal phone usage.”
Go back and read that sentence again. There are an awful lot of promises packed into that claim:
 a software application for your mobile phone (not a hardware measuring gadget);  delivery of information about your phone’s radiation emissions from its various radios;  tools to help you minimize exposure to cell radiation; and  a usable interface that lets you get on with your calls.
Does Tawkon deliver?
[Disclaimer: After some initial difficulties purchasing and activating the application, Tawkon provided me with the application and asked me to test and review it.]
I’ve been using Tawkon for a week on a BlackBerry 9700 (Onyx). Navigating to the Tawkon website [http://www.tawkon.com/m] on my phone’s web browser, I clicked the big green PayPal button. This took a leap of faith, actually, since no price was noted (Tawkon costs $9.99) and I associate big buttons like that with “one-click” purchases. I clicked anyway. Much to my surprise, I was taken to BlackBerry’s AppWorld and the message “This application is not available on your device or for your carrier.” Hm.
I wasn’t sure what to do, so I just closed the browser and gave up.
Within hours, and much to my surprise, I received a classy email from Tawkon, thanking me for my interest and asking about my experience downloading and using the application. This was a first for me, and tipped me off to the fact that the Tawkon team is serious — really serious — about getting the user experience absolutely right, every step of the way.
Who could resist a letter starting, “As a young start up, we’re eager for constructive feedback…”? I wrote back: “Today I finally got my AT&T Blackberry 9700 working with my Orange (Israel) SIM. Tried to download Tawkon, and got a message that it’s not compatible with my phone or my operator. Don’t know which. So, I’m disappointed.”
Four hours later, I got a personal email reply from a real person — one of the company’s founders. After some troubleshooting, he explained that the problem was that I had chosen to purchase via PayPal, which meant purchasing through BlackBerry’s App World store, which is not supported in Israel (who knew?). Instead, I needed to click the other green button, and opt to pay using my credit card via the Mobihand store. Purchasing via Mobihand was indeed quick and easy.
Obviously, this gateway to purchase is confusing and difficult to use, and Tawkon will have to make sure that customers see only relevant buying options, or they will lose many bewildered customers along the way…
…which would be a pity. Because once the aches and pains of getting to the right web page to purchase Tawkon were over, and once the application was installed (important — and undocumented — note: you need to restart your BlackBerry after installation in order for Tawkon to launch properly! You can tell if it’s working by checking for the Tawkon mini-icon in the top margin of the BlackBerry home screen), everything went as smooth as silk.Tawkon has done this application right. They have obviously put a lot of thought into making the application function seamlessly, so much so that it’s hard to believe this is just a first release. Once they cross a few T’s and dot a few I’s, you’ll never guess this is a start-up. Tawkon feels like a mature mobile app from an experienced first-tier company.
I launched Tawkon from the Downloads folder on my BlackBerry, and was taken directly to a Tawkon Prediction screen that scanned my system and reassured me that my phone’s radiation levels were low. The Real-Time Radiation Indication Bar is liquid mercury; it’s so sensuous and fluid you’ll want to walk around mapping your radiation environment just for the pleasure of making the colors flow.
Keeping that screen open, I placed a call from my cell phone to my landline and took a tour of my home. (When you’re not on a call, Tawkon scans using a “Prediction Mode”. When you’re on a call, Tawkon goes into “Call Monitoring Mode”.) The results? My home and office are in good shape, although I won’t be making any calls from the bathroom. It’s just as well.
In fact, you don’t even have to open the Tawkon application to see your phone’s emission status. That little mini-icon on the home screen changes color from green to yellow to red to cue you in, say, before you even make a phone call.
Where Tawkon really shines is when you’re on the move. Most of the time, I never even noticed that Tawkon was there, running automatically in the background. But when I answered a call sitting in a mall café — bzzz. I walked into an elevator while deep in discussion — bzzz. My phone vibrated and a message appeared on the screen, an alert from Tawkon that my phone was emitting high levels of radiation. I switched to a bluetooth headset or the built-in speakerphone and was pleased to see that Tawkon registered the change and let me know that it was helping. Tawkon also records the emission patterns during calls, letting you go back to review your call history to see how much you were exposed to — or avoided exposure to.
How the heck does Tawkon work? Tawkon says it monitors and analyzes your mobile phone radiation as a function of three key parameters: your phone’s specific absorption rate (SAR) – different for each phone model; environmental conditions – rural versus urban area, mobility, and distance from a cellular base station, terrain, etc.; and personal phone usage – the way the user holds the phone, distance from the user’s head or body, etc.
How reliable is Tawkon’s feedback? I’ll have to leave it to someone with a lab equipped to independently check Tawkon’s results against their own measurements. (Tawkon claims to have tested its results in collaboration with In4Tel, a strategic partner.) What I can say is that the feedback makes sense. Tawkon buzzed me in places where my phone would be expected to boost its power to get a signal — in elevators, enclosed stairwells and basements.
What is the impact on battery life? I don’t know how to gauge that, but I would expect it to be minimal, since Tawkon is a software solution. I spent a day at a convention and used my BlackBerry heavily all day for email, some long calls, Bluetooth radio on (WiFi was off), taking pictures of slides and constant Twittering during panels and sessions, and still had plenty of battery life left at the end of the day even though Tawkon was running in the background.
How does Tawkon know what it knows? Beats me, but I feel a lot better with Tawkon installed. You can read up on WHO’s most recent findings regarding cell phone emission risks here. I set out to purchase Tawkon because I wanted to feel some sense of control over my mobile risk:reward ratio.
The upshot: While documentation and online help for purchasing and troubleshooting are still sketchy, Tawkon is a remarkable application, and comes as close as I’ve ever seen to achieving the Holy Grail of “Set It and Forget It” as any application out there. With the risks of cell phone emissions still unclear, Tawkon should be considered a vital utility for every mobile phone.
Tawkon is a keeper. It’s earned a home on my phone.
- “Set it and forget it” convenience
- Gorgeous interface
- Responsive, helpful customer service straight from the development team.
- Provides valuable information about what’s going on in your hand and near your head.
- Instructions are not part of the application (you can find information in videos posted at Tawkon.com and on YouTube here and here, but it’s up to you to find them).
- Purchasing process become confusing if you’re outside the BlackBerry App World zone. (I guess it’s an “App Region”, not an “App World”, yet.)
I had an experience yesterday that was totally exhausting, but fascinating. An expected action catalyzed an unexpected emotional reaction; a relatively small incident set off a huge welter of emotions. The trigger turned out to represent — and therefore evoke — much larger, parallel, issues that lurked under the surface.
It’s almost like a pain path: when a person has physical pain, it stimulates the nerve path to the brain. The more often that path is traced, the more developed — and responsive — that nerve path grows. And the more sensitive and exquisite the pain.
I don’t know if the identical neuronal process applies to emotions. If it doesn’t, it surely provides a useful parallel, a useful analogy. Once an emotional route is traced — a certain type of event, a certain interpretation of that event, a certain emotional response to that event — that same route is more likely to be retraced the next time an event of that type occurs.
[I suppose this is the foundation of behavioral psychology: to encourage a desired emotional response by forcing interpretation (either positive or negative) to a controlled event combination (grafting a contrived event onto one that otherwise occurs spontaneously). And by repeating the process over and over, to “retrain” the interpretation to that type of event, thus leading to a different, more desirable, emotional response.]
Musing on Using
All of this led me to think about how the best products or interfaces take positive advantage of this quality: of the ability of one small experience to somehow tap into a depth of prior, more emotional experiences.
In some ways, this is the goal of great User Experience design: to create a series of positively felt interactions that build upon one another to create a superlative overall experience of a product.
Every “Little” Interaction Counts
This is why every “little” key press, every symmetry of interface, every tactile feedback, every sound, every visual transition matters so much. It’s why people like Steve Jobs and Jon Ives are totally obsessive. Because the User Experience as a whole is created by tens and hundreds of little interactions, little trigger events.
On the one hand, this means that the system can tolerate a certain degree of bad experience (think Symbian S60 menus), if the overall experience is positive enough (think Nokia phones). Because the positive emotional reaction will still be triggered often enough to keep the overall experience positive.
On the other hand, this means that the first series of experience event absolutely has to be wonderful, to establish the desired User Experience pathway (think original Palm Pilot). If not, a neutral or negative pathway is established, which is difficult to overcome — perhaps impossible to overcome entirely (think Motorola RAZR).
Creating Passionate Relationships
But the really powerful lesson is that if once you’ve established a solid experience path, you can evoke a strong response in it with even a very small interaction (think iPhone). You can leverage the historic cumulation of experiences to evoke a disproportionate emotional response… for better or for worse.
Each little experience doesn’t just add to the effects of the previous ones, it builds upon them. The speed and intensity increase, up to a certain point. You get more bang for your buck. And you create passionate user-device relationships.
I learned to type in high school on manual typewriters (yes, they were outdated even then!). Typing on an IBM Selectric typewriter was a whole lot easier, but it took some time to adjust the force of my typing — the electric typewriter required a lot less force to activate. This made typing easier, but, in an odd way, also less satisfying. Pressing “Enter” is not as gratifying as slamming the carriage return back over.Of course, if you slam the keys of an electric typewriter, you’ll break them. So you learn to type more lightly, and is uses less energy, and it’s easier. But less fun.Not long after, we moved to computers. 386-processor IBMs and a Mac Quadra 700 running the brand-spanking-new OS 7 (boy, am I dating myself in this post). These were so much easier to type on than the IBM Selectric. They required much less force on the keys… it was easier, but took some getting used to. The MacBook I bought last month demands a lot less finger power than the PowerBook it replaces. And on and on.Were I to type on my MacBook with the force I used on a Quadra 700 — let alone an electric or manual typewriter — I’d destroy the keyboard in days, if not hours. So I learn to use a lighter touch. And my interaction is less visceral as a result. Still, there is a very tangible physical contact between my fingers and the keys which provides constant feedback and response.Nintendo Wii has been a huge success, and it’s not just because it costs less than Sony Playstation and Microsoft XBox. Using the motion-sensing remote control creates an immersive, physical, visceral experience… in other words, it’s fun.The iPhone has set the mobile world on its ear by making interaction with the phone fun (see my earlier comments here). Using a touch screen has lots of usability advantages, but what makes iPhone stand out from the rest of the touch screen crowd is the visceral, physical sense of direct interaction with the data and lists. It’s fun.Competing manufacturer response has been (duh!) to start making more smartphones with touch screens. Bigger touchscreens, faster touchscreens, projective touchscreens. Which misses the point. In fact, it may do worse than miss the point… When you move to a more sensitive input method (for example, a more sensitive touch screen, or a screen that can sense your input even before you touch it, or voice activation, or camera-based gesture recognition), you don’t have to use as much pressure to activate the device. In other words, you need less physical interaction, and less intentional activation to generate a response.Sarah’s rule states:
More sensitive device input [device sensing] + more sensitive devices [device fragility] = lighter, less visceral contact/interaction.
Do you want to create a product that makes people want to spend time with it? Follow Nintendo’s lead, and give it some real physical interaction. The more visceral, the more engaging. You’ve been warned.
I just upgraded to Leopard (Mac OS 10.5), and its option to let me browse my files in the Finder using Cover Flow stopped me in my tracks. Even at its best, Cover Flow seems wrong — even clunky — as a user interface for large numbers of items, say, more than 40. At its worst, Cover Flow has trouble coordinating with finger scrolling on the track pad, skipping items, zooming past others, and making it difficult to hone in on precisely the thing you want.I threw a question out to the Twitterverse: ”Does anybody actually use Cover Flow to browse their media? #UX”@theproductguy responded:
@Power2B i would b surprised if coverflow is used when people have tons of music; it is nice eye candy but not strong that area of usefulnes
The real use (for me) of “live” page visualizations is for small icons (eg. OS X dock/stack cons) that provide pattern cues to content. #UX
@Power2B Can you please explain in more detail? This sounds like a cool technique.
@Power2B [tweets combined for your reading comfort]:
@Stuporman Not a technique, just a great, usable design. OS X dock icons are an excellent way of quickly navigating apps/docs: the icons show the content (eg, an open mail window minimized to dock actually shows its content miniaturized).
Stacks in Leopard adds another dimension (up in vertical) to the dock, extending the capabilities. Here, icon-as-content browsing is great, b/c it helps compensate for small viewing area, and reduces clicks (vs opening Finder window).If there were a command line (a la DOS or internet address), that would be even faster. Closest equivalent is keyboard shortcut (command-tab) to switch apps; that is even better than dock for app switching. Perhaps gestures will be even better?
But for cover art and for web site browsing, I don’t buy into the visual-icon-browsing model. Too slow. As @theproductguysaid, it’s eye candy. The pity is, if you direct command line/gesture to a file, you don’t browse, and you tend to forget about the 80% of media you access less often, and thus lose use of it completely. Whereas browsing reminds you of things you may have not considered.
The problem of losing your own “long tail” of media files really interests me. It seems to me to be connected to the greater culture of social media / viral marketing / user ratings, where things “float to the top” based on popularity. “Floating” promotes quick discovery and direct access. Popularity, though, depends strongly on a lot more than the quality of the product; it relies heavily on getting a couple of votes early on which trigger more interest and more votes to build momentum (this is why advertising is so important).There are many pros and cons to this system, but the item under consideration now is: what happens to the 80% or 90% or even 99% of products/files that don’t appear in the Most Popular lists? Do they get discovered? Even within your own little digital galaxy of computer, iPod, cell phone, etc., you can create your own Most Popular lists (”Recently Viewed”, “Most Frequently Listened To”, “Recent Calls”) that both speed your access to favorite data and impair your reach to the other stuff. Your favorite old songs, books, or art may slide down through the ranking system over time, effectively erasing the value of ownership. (Is this why we’re seeing the shift to online movie rentals over purchases?)Contrast that to the experience of books on a shelf (the metaphor that Cover Flow seeks to emulate): You have a spatial reference that leads you to where the book is that you want — at least, if your books are reasonably well-organized — but you never see just one book at a time. This leads to fortuitous discoveries, reacquaintance with old friends and stories. It adds value to the history, the collection-as-a-whole.Cover Flow seeks to recreate that experience. However, while you appear to have the added advantage of serendipitous discovery based upon spatial proximity, in fact, there is no spatial point of reference. The item you’re looking at is always at the center. Data organization is still at its essence a list: alphabetical by author, by album, by recent use.Consider the response of a friend via Facebook to my original question:
On my ipod classic, yes, sometimes.
Wow. May I ask about how many songs / media files you have on your iPod? (10? 100? 1000?) Also, any thoughts you might have on when/why you choose to use Cover Flow to navigate vs. the linear list of songs/artists/albums/genres would be really illuminating. Thanks!
I have 2392 songs and 3 video files. I usually use cover flow when I’ve forgotten what I have on my ipod. Ie, after loading a bunch of stuff on or when I’m too out of it to remember what I have and/or what I want to listen to. Don’t know if it makes a difference to you but the most irritating thing with cover flow is its poor treatment of various artists. If you have a couple of compilations with ~20 artists each, your cover flow becomes rapidly inundated with the same album cover. Grouping them all under “Various Artists” would be much more reasonable.
I welcome your input and feedback.
My computer is nearing the end of it’s professional career (it’s almost four years old), and about ready to head into its golden years of volunteer service to advantaged children.
It has given me a good opportunity to think about applications, functionality, and priority: Which applications do I use/need every hour? Which every week? Which every month? Which less often?
The Big Four
The every-hour ones come to mind quickly: Email (Mail), Contacts (Address Book), Web browser (Firefox), and Calendar (iCal). Rarely does a quarter of an hour go by without my using all of those applications. My “Big Four”.
Every day? PDF viewer (Preview), iTunes, To-Do list tracker (Things), Basic word processor (TextEdit), iSync. Most of these I use several times a day, but they’re not in constant use in the way that the Big Four are.
Every week? Page layout (Pages), PDF distiller/editor (Acrobat), Photo managment (iPhoto), Presentation application (Keynote), Photo manipulation (Photoshop), RSS reader (NetNewsWire), OmniOutliner (simpler for tracking many data sets than Numbers or Excel), MicroSoft Office suite: Word, Excel, Powerpoint, for reading files created by other people.
Monthly or less: iMovie and iDVD, QuarkXPress (down in the ranking since its heyday as my every-minute-core-of-the-workday application), Illustrator, Numbers / Excel, Skype.
There are “luxury” applications, of course, that I use frequently, but can get along without, like Twitterific and Calculator.
But with my computer having difficulty coping with the activities of daily life (and thus qualifying to collect on its Long Term Care Insurance), I’m reminded that the most critical functions aren’t even used hourly: they’re used every minute, or even every second.
Functions like the keyboard (working, and working as expected), mouse, real-time operating functions that let applications use resources in the most efficient priority order, display activity (including the ability to show presentations on a second screen), on/off, power management (and battery charge), trackpad and trackpad button reliability (the latter not an issue for new MacBook users — whether you like it or not), internal clock accuracy, a functioning internet connection (OK, that’s not necessarily part of the computer).
If any of these aren’t working, go see how impossible it is to manage for an hour, let alone a week.
But this isn’t a gripe post. I want to dig a little deeper; I want to look and see why the above is actually a product trend driver.
Several years ago, a team at Nokia started studying “mobility” in general, and “what people take with them when they leave the house” in particular. What they found? Three things that people don’t leave the house without: keys, money, cell phone. There’s a lot to learn from this about human needs, but for now, I’d just note that there’s been some nice progress in incorporating the money (and less so, the keys) right into the mobile phone. That’s a nice trend, but at it’s core “unnecessary”, because people will carry those three items even if they represent three discrete packing hassles.
It gets more interesting when you start looking at “luxury” mobile technologies. If you manufacture a mobile product (eg., camera), you’d darn well better make it integrate-able with a cell phone, or it will be(come) a niche product.
If You’re In, You’re In. If You’re Out, You’re Out.
You have only to look at the camera industry to prove the point: from film to digital to camera phone, just think of how our expectations about picture taking have changed in the last decade: we accept lower quality photos in exchange for the potential to snap a memory at any moment. “The best camera is the one you have with you” — that means the camera in your cell phone. The same goes for video recorders; the same goes for watches; the same goes for GPS devices, PDAs, handheld gaming computers, portable DVD players, even
iPods sorry, personal music players.
Today, the Blackberry isn’t just the hallmark of high-flying businessmen (well, in countries like Israel, where BB is still only available under corporate contract). Blackberry Pearl, Palm Centro, Apple iPhone, Nokia E62, T-Mobile Sidekick… these have brought smartphones to the masses, and the masses want them badly.
Why? Look back at my Big Four applications: Email, Web browsing, Contacts, Calendars… those are served adequately by a good smartphone, such as Nokia E71, Blackberry series, Palm or iPhone, although each of these has strengths and weaknesses in these applications. Voila! I don’t need to carry a laptop if I leave the office for a couple of hours.
The smartphone represents the integration of the Big Four application needs right into your mobile phone, alongside your camera, your wallet, and your watch. You’re going to take that phone along with you in any case, right? Getting those applications integrated into the mobile phone makes them necessities — everything else is just a niche product.
Which brings us to…
* * *
The Birth-Pangs of the Netbook Computer
What about the applications that I can’t get through the day without? PDF reader, iTunes, To-Do list tracker, word processor, iSync. PDF reader? Lousy for mobile. iTunes? Good if you’ve got an iPhone; not worth mentioning otherwise. To-Do lists? Depends on the phone you have, and the tracking software you choose. Word processor? Nada nada nada. iSync, OK.
Which means that if I go out for the day, I do need to take my computer, otherwise I’ll need to defer a lot of activity until I get back (blog posting, reading attachments, significant letter writing, major document creation, etc). Laptop computers are mobile. They’re also heavy. Either I’m shlepping a heavy laptop (after an hour’s hike through Frankfurt airport, or six hours walking a convention floor, you’ll see what I mean), or accumulating a backlog of tasks. Ouch.
This “Ouch” is what drives the growth of the new UMPC (ultra-mobile personal computer, or “netbook”) computer market. It’s a market category that seems obvious: make a laptop that’s light enough to really carry around, and that can get you through all your normal daily application needs, and most of your weekly application requirements. It meets a true need, so long as the real fundamentals (reliability, trackpad, etc.) are well-met.
Why did the netbook market take so long to gain traction, and why is it finally moving now?
Netbooks aren’t in the top-three items people won’t leave their homes without. So while they do meet a need, they don’t meet a Need, if you catch my drift.
For a netbook computer to make sense to me as a consumer, it needs to fulfill more needs than my smartphone, and offer some kind of major advantage over a laptop. Why? Because I’ve already got a phone of some sort (and won’t give that up), and I’ve already got a computer of some sort (which may as well be a laptop).
The netbook can’t replace my cell phone in any case; the best it can hope to do is replace my laptop (unlikely, unless I prefer a desktop computer as my main computer) in situations where I simply cannot manage on a smartphone alone. In other words, a netbook is a luxury.
So, what has changed, then? Why has this market now gained traction? How has the netbook moved itself from luxury to necessity?
Their Heads in the Clouds
Essentially, it boils down to the critical “back-office” functions: hardware, software, OS, broadband mobile data connections, and cloud-computing competence (to keep the applications and data available, usable, secure and in sync). Of those functions, the latter two are not under the control of the computer manufacturers, who have had to wait for them to catch up.
That “wait for them to catch up” vulnerability has, to some extent, been responsible for the move of mobile phone manufacturers into the internet content space (Nokia with Ovi, Apple with MobileMe, RIM with Blackberry Internet Service for individuals). You can focus on their sales of content, but that represents the raindrops — the real focus should be on their ownership of the Cloud. When you own the Cloud, you don’t have to wait for someone else to build it in order to provide the service.
The mobile phone manufacturers “got it” — the computer manufacturers didn’t (well, with the exception of Apple, which is probably why they became mobile phone manufacturers in addition to creating a cloud). So the netbook manufacturers sat and languished for years, trying (mostly futilely) to bundle cellular broadband cards into their machines, which just didn’t go far enough.
Today, though, the Cloud has grown. It has developed so drastically as to be competent to take over synchronization of personal computing functions that represent daily, weekly and monthly needs (email, documents, calendars, photos on Picassa and Flickr, etc.). While it’s still true that “cloud computing” exacts a toll in lag time while data is accessed, that inconvenience is bearable for applications that aren’t accessed on a constant basis. Google in particular is building the back-end infrastructure that allows the netbooks to succeed on a functional level.
With the support of the Cloud, a netbook can handle almost every personal computing need — at half the price of a laptop computer. It is the that Cloud takes the computing and storage burden off the mobile devices, allowing them to provide the necessary applications without actually providing them.
The ultimate set-up, of course, is a transparent set of perfectly synced devices: phone, ultra-mobile, and desktop sizes, from which any documents and data sets can be retrieved. Whether those devices are actually one core device with a number of corporeal states (a la Modu), or cloud-computing-served units (iMac + MacBook Air + iPhone) is a question of technology and security.
(Technology = Can the synchronization be maintained for discrete devices? vs. Can the cloud have little enough downtime and great enough bandwidth to be able to serve up the data on demand? Security = Distribution of multiple hardware units containing sensitive data? — think of UK government security issues, with computers and data files left on public transport — vs. Can the cloud be secure enough to entrust with all sensitive data?).
We anxiously await mobile utopia.
Some thoughts on Fashion and Mobile Phones…
A red iPhone sounds… good. That is, if it’s the red of the Product (Red) iPod; not that bloody fingernail color of the mockup at the rumor site. Odd how a color can do that.
So, it has struck me as rather odd to now want an iPhone. The reason being (and I know how badly this comes across) is that it’s now available in (Red).
Rumours are apparently out in force that Apple is preparing a Product (Red) version of the iPhone in time for Thanks Giving [sic].
[via SMS Text News]
In the context of a discussion of the impact of fashion on mobile device purchasing, I recently realized that if — big IF — syncing were perfect and complete, I’d love to have multiple cell phones. Different colors, different styles, work, personal, whatever. One for entertainment content, one for email and/or browsing, one for heavy calling.
What do I mean by “perfect and complete”? I don’t want to think about what’s in a phone. So total synchronization of contacts, bookmarks, content (photos, videos, music), calendar, notes… EVERYTHING.
And I don’t want to move the SIM card. I just want all the phones to be paired to the lines I use as profiles (one personal, one work, one U.S.) that I can switch between (or even have all three lines coming in, toggling them off and on as desired). Let the device synchronize every couple of hours, and I’m ready to roll with whatever suits the mood.
Now we’re talking.
From the PosiMotion website:
G-Park in three easy steps:
1. Park your car and hit the Park Me! button.
2. Get lost.
3. Hit the Where Did I Park? button. Brings up Google maps and creates turn-by-turn directions that will take you right back to your car!
G-Park also provides an easy-to-use interface for additional details. Available July 11 on the official iTunes App Store.
It looks neatly done. I’m especially happy that someone has done this, being a subject I’ve thought about for a while.
“iPhone” is the name my 18-month old calls every cell phone. By which she means “my phone” with a toddler’s grammar.
What is the “killer app” of the Apple iPhone?
I say: Scrolling.
Before you get all worked up about how much you adore Google maps and email and video, think a minute. Think about your own pleasure in using an iPhone or iPod Touch, and tell me if it isn’t really about feeling hip, feeling cool, feeling in control, and the fun of scrolling up and down lists; back and forth through album art.
Oh, all right, I’ll allow “scrolling” pictures larger and smaller by multi-touch spreading of fingers closer and farther. But that’s as far as I’ll go.
What do you say? Do you buy my argument?