The future of gadgets has basically been pretty much on the same solid trajectory for the last two decades. Technology is combining, with everything cumulating into Smartphones that can provide VR experiences, browse the net, take ultra-high quality photos, face time, navigate and a million other things.
No one needs Sat-Navs for their cars anymore, and few people own digital cameras, except hobbyists. Smartphones continue to get more powerful, and conquer gadget industry after gadget industry.
There’s still one area they haven’t quite defeated, however; Laptops. Sure, you’ve got tablets which are an awkward mishmash of laptop and phone, capable of doing lots of things not quite as well as either, but for the most part, a lot of us still need our laptops and desktops for work.
The question is, then, will smartphones replace our laptops and desktops? And if so, when?
A First Step – Samsung Galaxy S8 DeX Dock
The first steps towards an integrated laptop/phone solution have already been made. Samsung’s brave venture into this world comes in the form of the DeX dock. By plugging your Galaxy S8 into this cradle, you can connect up a monitor and a series of USB devices, effectively morphing your phone into a desktop.
Neat, but not exactly ground-breaking. Reviews state it works quite well, but is prone to being slow, and there’s the problem of limited app availability on their operating system, as well as presenting new challenges for website designers. As well as the fact the dock is a little pricey, especially next to the already-expensive phone, and the whole thing requires you to cart around a monitor, it’s far from a polished solution.
The problem with this idea is always going to be screen size. The Samsung Galaxy S8 sort of solves this with its DeX dock, but that necessitates a whole monitor set-up, which you can’t exactly carry around with you, like you can a smaller laptop.
Another option as far as screens are concerned is VR headsets. That’s an inherently portable option, and could prove a very intuitive way to work on just your phone, easily enabling you to watch films, edit documents and touch-up photos, all on a screen that’s seemingly bigger than the biggest IMAX.
The problem then comes down to simple computing power. While smartphones are getting increasingly powerful, they’re still only just nearing low power laptops. That means for many applications, they simply won’t be powerful enough to replace the laptop, at least for a couple of years.
Then there’s the fact that many of the various applications and software don’t quite work as well on both laptop and phone screen. That’ll be a new element of app and website design, focusing more of the responsivity, and making sure that all the features work on multiple platforms through different styles of use.
Who knows, once the phones reach the right level of computing power, maybe by the iPhone 12 or Samsung Galaxy S10, we’ll see pocket-sized machines more powerful than today’s xBox One or PS4, on which you can not only work, but play too.
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