Smartphone evolution


Smartphones are pretty amazing. We can do a myriad of things with them from the obvious email and internet to something niche that somebody has written an app to do. The amount of technology crammed into these devices is staggering compared to where we were twenty years ago.

My first foray into anything Smartphone was in the late nineties. I had a combination of what I think was a GPRS enabled Ericsson phone and the Psion 5 organiser. I remember at the time feeling pretty much on the bleeding edge of technology although I don’t recall actually doing a great deal ‘online’ back then, was there much of an internet anyway? I had a data only tariff and the phone was hooked up via a cable so along with my normal phone, I now had three devices.

The next milestone was when I became the proud owner of a Sony Ericsson T68i and a Compaq iPAQ. I bought these two devices as a package for the unique ability to surf the internet on the PDA by leveraging the internet on my phone via the Bluetooth connection; no wires! And I’d gone from three to two devices, result!

This was pretty revolutionary at the time and I was the envy of my gadget loving friends, being able to check my email and browse internet pages with ease and all from the convenience of tech in my pocket(s).

I remember thinking that whilst this was all pretty amazing stuff, actually, carrying two devices around was a bit of a pain. I wondered how long it would take for convergence to bring both devices together and my prayers were answered when Sony Ericsson released the P800. It was all there, internet capability integrated into my phone and a camera! I was truly mobile and still connected.

I’m not sure if it was the first such device but it’s the first I remember and I loved it enough to rush out and buy one. Naturally I upgraded to the P900 when that was available too.

Over the next years I upgraded constantly to the latest and greatest Smartphone all the while being amazed at what new piece of technology was being crammed into this wonderful pocket sized device.

As these devices became more powerful, I mused at how long it would take for the Smartphone to become my PC: take it everywhere and then dock it to a monitor and keyboard at home / work and carry on where I left off.

Motorola came up with the Webtop and the Atrix device which did just that although my initial view was it was a bit clunky and things like the laptop dock could have been done better i.e. let you at least pick it up and carry around without the phone balanced on the back…

I was pretty excited to see the Ubuntu announcement about running on Android phones. A full Ubuntu desktop running from a docked Android phone? That’s pretty awesome in my books! It’s being showcased at MWC and the device support will be limited to those with hardware support for HDMI and docking capability. Looking forward to seeing how this develops though.

So what’s next? Are we going to see Microsoft do the same perhaps? I wouldn’t be surprised. Linux is gaining popularity but I think the majority of people run Windows still. How about the iPhone? There are already rumours of converging iOS and OS X so there’s no reason why this concept couldn’t be on the roadmap for Apple too.

What would make this idea truly incredible for me would be to do away with the dock altogether and have wireless connectivity to my keyboard, mouse and monitor from my Smartphone. But that might be pushing the technical limitations too far, we’ll see.

What other tech can possibly be crammed into a Smartphone? We’ve got great cameras, GPS, high speed internet, NFC tagging, Bluetooth, Wifi… Batteries of course will need to evolve further to support all this power in our handheld device. I think my money is on micro-projectors being integrated some day, I’ll be beaming the lastest Coolsmartphone on to the wall in the office soon I reckon. As long as the phones aren’t back to brick size like the good old days…