What’s Next for Mobile Devices
Bendable phones and better voice technology. It’s in the works.
If this year’s vast, annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas taught us anything about the future of mobile technology, it’s that it will be strange, but ultimately intuitive. Also, your constant jabbering with—not on—your phone may create a deeper relationship than you even currently have with Siri. Oh, and that every phone designer will be copying every other phone maker. Here are some recurring themes:
You thought tapping and sliding with your finger were intuitive motions. How about bending and flexing an entire phone? Nokia and Samsung have both hinted that they may release phones with bendable displays this year, a technology in which a bendable interface will let you zoom in, zoom out and scroll around a page by twisting your smartphone or tablet. (You’ll still have to wait a few years for a wafer-thin phone you can roll up to fit in your billfold.)
The novelty of asking Siri silly questions is beginning to wear off, and “her” true utility is setting in. The ability to send texts, create reminders, search the Web and call your friends using just your voice seems like the future for mobile. (Now that Siri’s on board, it would seem like an oversight not to come out with a 2.0.) Apple has big plans for voice control technology. The technology might replace the TV remote on Apple’s rumored HDTV, slated for release at the end of the year. Now that voice control has actually become responsive and more efficient, look for it in emerging phones and elsewhere (like your appliances).
Do you really need something that will help you spend your money more quickly? Plenty of early innovators of Near Field Communication (NFC) think you do. The feature turns mobile devices into a smart card for instant wireless transactions, and techies predict that this will be the year when mobile payment technology explodes. Simply wave your NFC-enabled phone near the credit card reader and the money is automatically deducted. Google Wallet, Visa Wallet, Serve (from Amex) and ISIS are the early developers. Most likely, hackers are already mulling this one over.
The front-facing camera on mobile devices allows users to use Skype and other video chat and conferencing software on the go. This year, the prediction is that more and more of these providers will partner with cable companies to allow your television to become the virtual boardroom. You look much better on a big screen than on a mobile screen.
Image © Franck Robichon/Corbis
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