I picked up my first US Robotics Pilot 1000 PDA 25 years ago and have seen incredible advances in mobile technology since then. Smartphone form factors stabilized a few years ago on metal frames with glass backs and fronts with a strong focus on camera performance in 2021.
For many years we saw the “megapixel race” in smartphone cameras, but most companies have chosen 12MP as the standard for smartphone photography. The software algorithms and intelligence were further developed and perfected in 2021, with Google and Apple taking computer photography to the next level. It’s great that smartphones help you take great pictures, but a phone does a lot more for productivity than just taking photos.
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Google released Android 12 in late 2021 while Apple introduced us to iOS 15, and these two big updates offer a glimpse of what to expect in 2022, our constant interaction, while giving us an experience that is easier to get along with Connect with others, focus on the people and the world around us, and trust that our smartphones will serve as valued personal assistants.
About a decade ago I attended a Mobius influencer event where we gathered ideas about where we’ll see smartphones in the future based on patterns gathered from huge amounts of data and then use that data to create a To offer a personal and focused user experience that is unique to each individual.
Google Android 12
Android 12 adjusts the colors and widgets in such a way that your home experience is tailored exactly to you and is not identical to everything else with Android 12. Stay informed with little effort on your part.
We have also seen developments in the Google apps that help you in many ways. For example, Smart Reply suggestions make replying to emails faster by using processing power to create responses based on your history and interactions. The Google Assistant and voice-to-text input have improved the way you can find things and interact with people faster, in more situations.
Google Search is also being built deeper into the operating system, with AppSearch providing the ability to search for people, settings, music, photos, and more. This feature can change the way you interact with your phone. Instead of making multiple taps and swipes to get deep into the app you want, you can just enter it in one place and skip many intermediate steps. Reducing the manual interactions we have with our phones is an important way to harness the power of the phone and get back to focus on the people and the real world around us.
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Apple iOS 15
Apple has also taken steps to make your iPhone more work and make your life easier. The focus option helps you define your absence from your phone and then share it with others so you are not interrupted. Improvements in FaceTime were especially useful in 2020 as people work remotely and connect more than ever via video.
Something we should have seen years ago is Live Text, where text can be made easily actionable from a photo. With a photo of an agent’s sign, you can call that agent, send them a message, or even look up directions to an address. You no longer have to switch back and forth between a photo and other messaging, phone, or mapping apps to respond to text from a picture.
Like Google for some time now, Apple also offers Visual Look Up so you can learn more about different objects in photos you take. I’ve spent many hours identifying flowers, trees, bugs, and other objects with Google Lens.
Google and Apple have made great strides so that our smartphones can do more for us in 2021, and they are using the huge amounts of data that companies are collecting to help us intelligently in our daily lives. As computing power continues to advance and our smartphones continue to collect data about our usage, machine learning and AI should reduce the number of decisions we have to make every day. According to reports, the average person makes more than 35,000 decisions in a day, and given the amazing power we now have in our hands, it is clear that smartphones can make many of those decisions based solely on the data patterns the phones collect.
Given that battery and display technology has plateaued and camera technology is so advanced that photos are almost indistinguishable from most devices, the next step for smartphones is for these tools to reduce our stress levels and take care of the thousands of small decisions we make every day.
In terms of hardware, Samsung has set the bar for foldable technology and will continue to improve in this area, but there is not much that is new in hardware from others in the smartphone sector.
What do you think we will see from smartphone manufacturers in 2022?