Technological Revolution: From One Touch to Touch-Free

  Jan 17, 2019 5:16:24 AM

Things move quickly in the tech space. What existed a decade ago has been refurbished multiple times under the pretext of offering a more seamless experience to users than before. Earlier, mobile phones used to be the manifestation of the basic need for connecting with others, but now they have become a luxurious necessity. They did not have touch capabilities and everything was based on key clicks via 3X4 hardware keys with T9 support for the text. Then the hardware QWERTY keyboard was added to some variants of the mobile phone followed by soft keyboards on some touch-enabled smartphones. The gesture was a dream back then. Today, with just a simple gesture, we can capture images and configure actions.

It is also fascinating how they didn’t even exist before and now they are a part of one of the most profitable industries on Earth. Some, in fact, see it as a problem, while others see it as a feather in the cap of the tech industry.

Going Back In Time

Since the time Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876, which first originated with the idea of simply connecting humans across distances, there have been a lot of different adaptations to the device. A century later, Motorola introduced its own versions in the 1980s. They were handy and cost-effective but weren’t equipped with options like GPS, Internet, camera, touch-screen, video, music, and Bluetooth. Then the first smartphone was introduced to the public in 1993 by IBM and BellSouth. But the first high-end phone was released in 1996 by Nokia, with the ‘slider’ form meant to protect the keypad. However, it was when Nokia created 5110 that people were introduced to the idea of playing games on their mobile phones.

By now, mobile phones had become a little more than just the basic need; they had become an accessory to flaunt. Sanyo SCP-5300 was introduced as one of the first flip-phones in 2002, featuring a low-quality camera, vibrant colour display, and extended battery, giving people a glimpse into the future of mobile phones. However, the phone that completely changed the definition of smartphones for everybody was when Apple launched its first iPhone in 2007, running on iOS.

 From Lifestyle to Life Companion

Multi-touch interfaces and touch-screens are now a fundamental part of our lives. From the rise of mobile messaging to internet connectivity anywhere, anytime, mobile phones have come a long way and been the catalyst for the technological and cultural changes over the past many years.

Today’s mobile phones are equipped with the fourth generation (4G) of broadband cellular network technology, which surfaced soon after the 3G spread its wings. With amended mobile web access, IP telephony, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, and video conferencing, it could lead mobile phones into the world’s next biggest technological revolution. Needless to say, this has further accelerated mobile sales worldwide.

According to Gartner (as seen in the table below), global sales of smartphones have been exceptional in the first quarter of 2018 with a 1.3 percent increase over the same period in 2017. Compared to the first quarter of 2017, sales of total mobile phones stalled and reached 455 million units in the first quarter of 2018.

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 1Q18 (Thousands of Units) 

 

Vendor

1Q18 Units

1Q18 Market Share (%)

1Q17 Units

1Q17 Market Share (%)

Samsung

78,564.8

20.5

78,776.2

20.8

Apple

54,058.9

14.1

51,992.5

13.7

Huawei

40,426.7

10.5

34,181.2

9.0

Xiaomi

28,498.2

7.4

12,707.3

3.4

OPPO

28,173.1

7.3

30,922.3

8.2

Others

153,782.1

40.1

169,921.1

44.9

Total

383,503.9

100.0

378,500.6

100.0

Source: Gartner (May 2018)

Evolution of Mobile Operating Systems and Applications

The operating systems in the mobile devices are as important as mobile apps or data. Various features such as the processing speed, GUI and applications heavily depend on the operating system (OS) of your mobile phone. Where phones are expected to run a range of software such as games, music, navigation, internet browsers, etc., the application platforms provide a solid ground for these functions. Although there are a variety of operating systems available in the market today, only a few are reaping the benefits of their hard work in this domain.

The statistics below clarify this further:

Worldwide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Operating System in 1Q18 (Thousands of Units) 

Operating System

1Q18 Units

1Q18 Market Share (%)

1Q17Units

1Q17 Market Share (%)

Android

329,313.9

85.9

325,900.9

86.1

iOS

54,058.9

14.1

51,992.5

13.7

Other OS

131.1

0.0

607.3

0.2

Total

383,503.9

100.0

378,500.6

100.0

Source: Gartner (May 2018)

According to the recent Gartner report, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android have achieved maximum growth in the first quarter of this year.

Coming to mobile applications, the devices are usually launched on a variety of platforms by manufacturers. It is observed that most mobile enterprises lack the skills to build native mobile apps. and so, they go for hybrid mobile apps, which can be built with some common web technologies such as JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3. The hybrid app development is accelerated with the help of frameworks such as Cordova, which makes it easier for the developer to package the app for different mobile platforms. Overall, Cordova has been a great aid in helping mobile development enterprises save both, time and cost.

The Future - Is It Just the Beginning?

According to Mobile World Congress 2018, the mobile technology space will expect a few significant improvements in the coming years, such as:

  • Your phone will recognise you

  • Your phone will be able to shift reality

  • It will be more flexible, durable and might even be foldable

  • You might not need a charger (now who wouldn’t want this, right?)

  • Finally, you’ll be using virtual assistants and buttons (thanks to Virtual Reality!)

It’s undeniable that in future, mobile phones are getting wider, brighter, and more powerful. Multi-touch screens are probably going to raise the bar in terms of resolution and software. Google’s latest material design initiative was an effort in the direction of restricting UI interactions and creating a standardised language for software interaction.

On a more significant note, we are faced with the next big challenge regarding the human-computer interface with the development of AR and VR interfaces. While the ‘Gorilla Arm’ has been a tough problem to crack, we are still able to see the first hints of those interfaces with Leap Motion and Kinect.

Who knows, ten years from now we might look back at these predictions the same way we look at iPhones and other similar discoveries today and be in awe of the unlimited capabilities technology holds.

 

Posted by:
Vidya Krithivasan
Manager-Devices Portfolio, Product Engineering Services, Sasken

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