Although Apple’s September special event announcing the iPhone 5s may have seemed underwhelming to many compared to previous years’ events, I am of the opinion that it portends great things to come from Apple. Although many prognosticate doom and gloom with regards to the implications for privacy with the the Touch ID sensor and the M7 chip, we may as well face it, these things are here to stay and become even more ubiquitous. There are two areas that I think these will play a major role in and I believe Apple’s underplaying their hand for strategic reasons.
1. Internet of Things – It is embarrassing to admit I hadn’t heard of this specific term until a few months back but it looks like context-aware computing, the ideas of which had been around for years, now has a brand. Everything we search or visit online is already being tracked and used in predictive analytics, targeting, and life improvements. The quantified mind is another such brand and the themes only point to a more tightly connected future than ever before. Although the iPhone 5S’s M7 chip may initially get push initial devices such as the Fitbit or the Nike+ band to obsoleteness, it is only another iteration in the process of improving the user experience. Instead of carrying around more separate devices, you carry one powerful general purpose computer (the phone) or wear unobtrusive sensors in apparel or accessories (watches, jewellery, clothes). There will definitely be cooperation required between those in the ecosystem and Apple may provide an olive branch to them by allowing them the platform(s) to build their applications on or connect their devices to.
2. Merging of computing devices into one. This one probably could go either way with Apple but my hope is that we will see a merging of all the computing devices one ones into one again. Since the phone is getting more and more powerful, why can’t the phone be my phone, work computer, or TV device? All that’s required is a shift in thinking around how to make a single device change context and provide you all those things. We have already seen initial attempts such as the Ubuntu Edge and the Motorola Atrix but we need to push the envelope harder. The CPU, memory, etc improvements will definitely help but so will pushing processing and storage to the cloud such that the disparate systems we interact with daily at work, home, and the commute will become connected via one unified set of services producing a smooth context-sensitive experience. Concerns about privacy and corporate IT backdated-ness aside, this is a matter of when instead of if. If Apple doesn’t do it, others will. Apple just happens to have the clout to be considered seriously by the masses when they present extant concepts with a polish and a bow. Everybody keeps saying how nothing is new but if these things become so ingrained in the average person’s psyche, it IS something new. It is only conscious meditation on using a phone that reminds me that only a decade ago I bought my first phone that was able to let me continue my ICQ conversations when I left my desk (it was via SMS and not Edge or GPRS, no less!)
So I say this again, Apple may have given a rather understated presentation of the iPhone 5S, but the implications are huge.
– Sarwar Bhuiyan