The Future of Smartphones – Part I

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From cloud apps to curved screens and face recognition here are some of the futuristic features that we can expect from the next generation of smartphones. Some of these features have already been incorporated in the mobile phones and they are quite promising for the future. This enriching article by Daniel Bennett was published in BBC Knowledge Magazine.

The Software:

Facial Recognition – Pin numbers will soon go the way of the credit card signature. Google’s next Nexus handset packs software that allows you to use your mug instead of passcodes to unlock your phone. But a patent filed by Apple hints that you won’t even have to press a button for facial recognition to kick in. The screen automatically lights up when you hold the phone to your face.

Cloud Apps – While Moore’s law predicts mobile phone chips to double in speed and halve in size every year, the cloud represents a huge reservoir of processing oomph that app developers are keen to get their hands on. “The computing power available through cloud servers is virtually unlimited,” says Steve Perlman, CEO and founder of cloud gaming service Onlive. “So once mobile broadband speeds can equal those demands, it’ll mean an app’s capabilities won’t be limited by the phone.” Being able to rely on external processing power will make phones smaller and allow for hugely demanding software, such as photo-editing on your phone.

Antivirus – According to David Emm, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, an epidemic of smartphone viruses is imminent. “The number of purchases people make on their phones will be too tantalising a prospect for cyber criminals to ignore,” he says. “Being open source, the Android OS naturally has vulnerabilities. Apple’s iOS is more secure, but nothing is perfect. We’re already seeing the very early stages of email attacks targeting iOS devices.”

Smarter Games – What will games look like on your next phone? Mike Capp, president of Epic Games – which was behind the award-winning Infinity Blade – says that graphics won’t be that important in the future. “Being mobile will play a much bigger role – whether it’s streaming the game from the cloud or continuing a console game on your phone. You could be sat at a park bench and, using the phone’s GPS, you could see anyone playing the same game within a five-mile radius and join in.”

Artificial Intelligence – Right now Siri, Apple’s ‘digital assistant’ or even Android’s app Robin, are only smart enough to help you put an entry in your diary. But as mobile phones’ net connections improve they’ll be able to leave more data crunching in the hands of cloud servers, allowing for devices that are not just smart, but actually intuitive. “Speech recognition algorithms are very data hungry” says Vlad Sejnoha of Nuance, the company that helped develop Siri. “With better connections available, more data can be interpreted and more instructions can be understood.” So your phone should become more like a personal assistant than a partially-deaf butler.

Globally Connected – It’s not just phones that will be smarter. TVs, washing machines, and even fridges are shipping with computer processors. According to tech industry analysts Gartner, this is all leading to the creation of an ‘internet of things’. So your fridge could send you a text message when you run out of milk. Looking further into the future, most of the devices in your home are likely to be linked in some way to your smartphone.

In the next post, we will look at some of the smartphone hardware components which will make the next generation smartphones much more convenient to carry around and having some innovative features.

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