When I got to school we had Macs and Windows 3.1. Not long after, my family made the jump to Windows 98, Windows XP, and subsequently Windows 7. Currently, I use Mac OS 10.8. Each iteration was slightly more streamlined, but added more functionality. Today, I would consider myself a pretty expert computer user, but only because I honed my skills with each generation.
Tomorrow, Apple will hold its World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC), where they are expected to announce (among other things) iOS 7 and OS 10.9. Don’t let the number 7 fool you, however. iOS hasn’t changed much since its introduction in 2007 - unlike Google’s Android, which has seen considerable advancement. Unfortunately, as much as I like my phones and tablets, they are not anywhere close to replacing my Macbook or desktop computer.
The more we use mobile devices, the more we expect from them. Technologists are bored with the current selection and we pine the next big thing. The next generation of mobile phones and tablets have to be considerably more capable. The training wheels have to come off. Both my generation and the younger generation (the latter which has never experienced a world without the smartphone) are prepared for something more advanced. Our Kung-Fu is strong, and we’re ready for the next challenge.
Microsoft has tried to move users in the opposite direction, which I feel is a mistake. Handicapping the desktop and gearing it toward touch is the wrong approach. What companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple should be doing is adding some of the traditional desktop functionality (such as multitasking, windowing, and file systems) into the their respective mobile OS’.
I’m optimistic for the future of mobile. When I haul out my old Atari from the closet, it always makes me smile. I’ll be honest, using it can be pretty painful. But, I owe it a great deal to that relic. It introduced me to a fascinating new world, sparked a lifelong interest, and put me on a path toward an exciting career. When I hold my tablet or phone, I experience the same excitement as when I first used a computer. “This is the Atari of mobile,” I say to myself. “I can’t wait so see what’s next...”