Monday, September 19, 2011

Computing on the go

It seems these days nearly everyone has a smart phone. We once had to wait until we got home to catch up on email or read our favorite websites. Now there are people who surf the web and text with their phones far more than using them to make phone calls.

The dramatic growth of the mobile lifestyle isn't just due to the increase in ownership of smart phones. One major factor is the unpredicted success of the iPad and similar tablets. I don't know anyone who is influential in the tech world who would have guessed ten years ago that tablets would finally catch on. They'd been introduced and failed so many times it appeared to be a form factor that would never be more than a niche product. These days I know several tech-heads who don't even own a desktop. All their web needs are met with a laptop, smart phone and tablet. They all seamlessly interconnect, file transfers are dead simple and websites are becoming more mobile friendly every day.

Another factor in the growth of the mobile web is the increase in application programming interfaces (API). Many of us don't even visit a browser-based website anymore, we access their app on our phone or tablet. Even social networks are releasing APIs so that developers can create apps for them.

If we put these recent trends in computing together I think it indicates that the mobile web is going to, very soon, eclipse the desktop, browser-based web. Why should I have to wait until I get home to reply to that last comment in a forum that I'm involved with when I can just whip out my iPhone or Android phone or even my iPad and reply right now, almost wherever I am. Connectivity is becoming available in more locations through WiFi, 3G and 4G networks.

The increase in involvement with social networks shows that people still have a need to connect with their friends and families, but now they can do so regardless of where they're located on the globe. You can even video conference with them right from your mobile device.

I'm still impressed that I can be on a website and without leaving the site I can send a friend a link to it, can post the site to my Facebook wall, store a bookmark to it on a cloud-based site, save a quotation from the site to my notebook and even search terms I'm not familiar with on Google or Bing. And the options for what we can do from a single site are only going to increase.

It's an exciting time for those of us who spend a fair amount of time on the web but aren't always at our desk.

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