January 21, 2016

The Future of Computing

With the help of @benjaminbrooks, I discover a likely path forward for computing devices in general.

Ben Brooks had a really good November and he has continued to post extremely prescient ideas, as shown most in my mind by The Future of Computing is in These Three Computers, in which he discusses his current computing situation. Here’s a good part (emphasis mine):

On the very left we have the type of computers we are used to: MacBook Pros, iMacs. On the right we have the devices that we should be using given how we actually use computers today — the computers we have yet to create. (Of course this isn’t for the power user, none of this ever is.)

I remember reading this the first time and having an Aha!” moment at that last statement. Ben so succinctly explains why the conversation had by technologists and tech journalists falls on deaf ears. Apple is not catering specifically to the power user and neither is the future of computing. Apple may still make Pro versions of the Mac, the Macbook, and the iPad, but, especially in the case of the latter, Pro is now relegated to a simple marketing term. The Macbook Pro and its software is not inherently more complicated or capable than the Macbook, just as the iPad Pro is not inherently more complex than the iPad Mini. However, the future of computing as Ben discusses is not in the moniker, it’s in the form factor.

We are in a transitional period where the less complex and more flexible the form factor (read iOS devices), the more simplistic the software. However, with the knowledge of where the software started (remember that the iPhone did not have copy and paste until its third software iteration), we will see a future where the more simplistic software continues to take novel approaches to old paradigms, thus creating a system built for the future that is able to handle all manner of standard tasks from the past.

Take for instance yesterday’s flurry of updates to Apple’s music software ecosystem. Updates to Garageband and the introduction of their new Music Memos app show a possible iOS-based future for recording artists, not to mention the ability to provide powerful tools for beginners and creative children. With the number of articles that came across my feeds on the subject, it is surprising that Apple even needs its own marketing for these things.

But I digress. The future of computing is about simplicity; think no need to worry about cables or file types, geographical location or on-device storage. From Ben:

I can get everything I need to do, done on any of these three devices. I can do almost all of it without ever connecting a wire to the devices during the day. I can do most of it without worrying about power for large chunks of the day (or all day if I am using one of the Apple devices).

That sounds like technological utopia and one that may not be far off.

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