After so much feature creep over the last 8 years (since the launch of the iPhone) it is becoming increasingly difficult for manufacturers to differentiate their products. Bigger, higher resolution screens, faster processors, new form factors that chime with this year’s chic are not really new features merely iteration.
There’s an app for that! Smartphone features
For most of us the innovation in smartphones has come through new apps… and you can get one for almost anything you can dream up! Few end up being really compelling but no doubt you will find enough to keep you occupied. The apps will keep improving but few will become killer apps.
There’s one app I would like however. How often are you in a place where the network coverage is so bad you want to scream. Whichever network you are on it seems impossible to even tell the network that you are frustrated. So how about a crowd sourced app which logs your GPS position when you cannot make a call or connect to the internet. The next time the phone connects to wifi it automatically sends a message with the network name and the precise location placing a coloured pin (different colours for different networks) on a web based map. This names and shames the network and makes it easier for users to decide which network is best in their local area. It wouldn’t take very long to get a very detailed map which the networks would have to take notice of.
So that’s software taken care of, expect more and better. Now what’s left for the handset manufacturers to deliver in the way of new features that we’d love to see? Here’s my top 5:
1. Universal smart payments
Whilst some are still wedded to cash I for one love the convenience of an Oyster card when travelling in London. I am thinking of joining the Barclaycard/Oyster pilot too – one less card to lose. Whilst cards are reasonably convenient I’d much rather just carry my phone and dispense with the cards and cash too for that matter.
With all the processing power and connectivity contained in a smartphone it would possible to put all the encrypted data held on your cards into the phone itself or onto the SIM card in the phone – that’s been possible for years. The advent of NFC and even better Bluetooth LE (Low Energy), means that wireless payments from smartphones might be just around the corner. Yes please. https://bgr.com/2014/01/16/apple-ibeacon-nfc-iwallet-wireless-payments/
2. Battery life like we used to have
I know its boring but I remember a Nokia phone I used to own around 2002 that lasted nearly a week between charges. Can I have that back please.
3. Seamless voice control even without an internet connection
If you don’t have a decent internet connection (and let’s face it most of us don’t a lot of the time) voice control from enablers like Siri just don’t work. They rely on communication with the vast processing power of a huge server cluster in the cloud. Well then simplify it and hold 50 or so personalised user commands on the phone itself. Some commands, like making a call to a friend are simple others could be activated as soon as you come within network coverage. A more limited form of this was available on some phones in the 90s.
4. Caseless design
I’d like to buy a phone and not have to buy a case to go with it. Currently I slip my naked iPhone into a hip wallet on my belt. When I use it is I can really feel how it was designed to be. No screen protector also means the touch screen works better. Designing a phone that doesn’t need a case and can be dropped from a metre or so above the ground without damage cannot be beyond the wit of man. In the mean time <a href=”https://sugru.com/guides/how-to-make-bouncy-sugru-bumpers-for-your-iphone-5”> check this out.</a>
5. Proper haptic feedback
How often do you mistype a word on a touch screen or open the wrong app? This is not because the screens are inaccurate but because many of us are imprecise in our actions or have sausages for fingers. Some Blackberry adherents love their keyboards because they get ‘feedback’ when they have touched a key.
Phones have had visual, sound and buzz feedback for some time and many irritated users simply switch them off. Samsung even produced a phone called the ‘Anycall Haptic.’ However there are all sorts of new developments in this area which might actually change how we interact with our touch screens, here are a couple:
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