For years tech companies have been trying to hook your phone to your computer, or your tablet to your computer so you can get the best of your mobile tech on your desktop. But after reading David Pierce’s article in WIRED, you may think that the tech companies are missing the point. No one wants to connect their phone to their computer, they want to transition one service from their phone to the computer. Rather than enabling gadget marriages, tech companies should focus on moving the service from one device to another seamlessly without hooking them together. Pierce writes:
At the very beginning of the internet, users connected through so-called “thin clients,” simple machines that existed only to connect to the mainframe. The world is headed that way again, and Arshad figured all people really needed to have with them was a way to connect to the internet. “The phone becomes your computing platform,” he says, “and you have everything in the cloud and some stuff on your phone, and you should be able to take over any screen.” Grab any piece of glass you can find, and that instantly becomes your computer.
Primitive versions of this interoperability already exist. You log into an Android phone and it’ll pull down your email, contacts, and apps. If you connect your AirPods to your iPhone, they’re also automatically paired to your iPad and Mac. Google’s working on ways to unify Android and Chrome OS, if not through universal hardware then at least by making your apps and data available across devices. Apple’s Handoff and Continuity features do the same between your iPhone and Mac. When this stuff works, it feels like magic.
Mostly, though, the world has gone the other way. The massive, all-consuming size of the smartphone market has made it possible to buy powerful chips and wireless radios for basically nothing. So rather than build less technology into things, companies built more. Pretty soon, everything from your dryer to your doorknob to your Dockers will have some kind of connectivity and processing inside. The idea that you’ll only have one computer that does everything is preposterous—soon you might own dozens, even hundreds.
Now that gadgets are cheap commodities, what users really need is a way to make them all work together. “I don’t think that this is so much of an integration of two different devices, with docks and stuff like that,” Arshad says. “It’s a service layer that runs seamlessly across devices. And it’s powered by AI.”
The vision is this: As soon as you hit the power button on your computer, the front-facing camera could turn on, use computer vision to identify you, and then instantly pick up where you left off on your phone. When you ask your Echo for a wine recommendation, it would know exactly what you like, and which recipes you looked up on your iPad earlier. When you put on an augmented-reality headset, it could instantly personalize your avatar, adjust the lenses, and start Elite Dangerous up from where you just died on your Xbox. Something has to bring all those services together, to make everything accessible everywhere. To make it so you don’t need any gadgets, because there are gadgets everywhere. All you need to do is log in.
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