From Your Car to Your Pocket; How Computers Have Gone Mobile
Part of my job as the resident blogger is to come up with new topics to talk about. Sometimes, these topics are drawn from something that has come up in the office, and sometimes, they stem from problems I myself encounter (for example, trying to find ways to make myself more productive). When all else fails, I turn to the Technology section of Google News. There’s always some new technology coming out, or maybe another cyber attack has happened.
For the past two weeks, all Google has given me is a steady stream of cell phones. It makes sense, considering that Apple’s iPhone X, Google’s Pixel2, and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 have just hit the market and all the hottest news sources are quick to jump on the review train.
I’ve talked in the past about the evolution of technology, and cell phones are a great example of how quickly technology has changed over the years.
Yeah Mom, I am absolutely being responsible and not using my awesome cell phone to make cute girls think I am hip and cool.
In 1983 the Motorola DynaTAC 800x was the first commercially available mobile phone, and it cost a hefty $4000. A foot long and shaped like a brick, the first cell phone had a battery life of only 30 minutes; just long enough to assure your mother that yes, you were coming home for the holidays, and yes, you were bringing the kids, and yes, your job is going well, and – Mom, I gotta go, my battery is going to die at any second!
It’d take ten hours to fully charge after that very important conversation, which is about how long you could wait before your mother tried calling you again.
These days, I can go three days without charging my phone once, but only if I don’t use it to call anyone, play any video games, check my email, or take pictures. Since I am a strange unicorn who only has a cell phone in case of an emergency, this happens fairly frequently, but on those few and far between days of heavy usage, it still lasts most of the day, and it only takes about an hour to fully charge. That’s quite the improvement, considering how much more my cell phone can do.
But I’m using an old Nexus 6 from 2014, and while the phone was impressive for its time, progress marches on. Back in September, Apple gave us the first couple glimpses of their new iPhone x, and on October 27, they were made available for pre-order. That quickly sold out, and in the week leading up to launch on November 3rd, people began lining up for their chance to get their hands on one of these luxury phones. While it seems absurd to go to such lengths for a phone, (as Samsung was quick to mock), many stores sold out quickly. So what new features does this phone have that has so many people going to incredible lengths just to obtain them?
The big thing about the iPhone X is that not only is it the “tenth anniversary” edition of the iPhone, but it’s also considered Apple’s first smartphone redesign in nearly as many years. The ubiquitous home button has been ditched, meaning that you simply swipe up from the bottom to access your apps, and it boasts wireless charging and an OLED screen that stretches from edge to edge.
But the feature that has everyone talking is the Face ID facial recognition software. Now, personally, I have my doubts about facial recognition software, and not because I fear some kind of Minority Report/Big Brother police state dystopian future. Mostly, it doesn’t seem particularly convenient to me, and I have more than a few misgivings about how well it’s going to work. Early reviews seem to indicate that despite my doubts, the Face ID does in fact manage to work pretty well. It can even recognize you through beards, haircuts, and sunglasses, although scarves are likely to throw it for a loop, especially if they cover up any part of the face.
If it’s so good at picking up faces, however, one has to wonder, is it truly that secure? How easily can it be fooled? Well, aside from the potential for some amusing mix ups between identical twins, it seems that, while FaceID can be fooled, the amount of effort you would currently have to go through just isn’t worth it. Unless you are software engineering students at MIT who are studying adversial imagery and machine learning, of course.
But the other big reason cellphones are in the news lately is because the Holiday season looms before us. Thanksgiving is still two weeks out, but already we’re seeing Black Friday sales hit the papers – and the markets. This is the time of year when, not only does a lot of new technology get released, but the prices are dropped dramatically, making them affordable for a greater number of people. But what’s really interesting about this year is that mobile sales are predicted to outnumber the amout of online sales made from desktops. Even just last year, in 2016, almost one third of online sales in many countries came from mobile phones.
Now, I may be a creature of habit that has yet to leave the warm, welcoming glow of my desktop computer, but I can appreciate just how impressive cell phones have gotten over the last ten years alone. My first cell phone, way back in 2007, was a flip phone that played snake and every time I accidentally turned on the internet, I had to wait ten minutes for the page to load before I could close it again.
That’s quite the difference, don’t you think?