Monday, April 27, 2015

The incredible shrinking computer

By JESHOOTS on Pixabay
I have heard all kinds of predictions about technology. Sometimes they are true, sometimes they are not. The other day I heard someone predict that by 2020, our phone may be the only computer that we utilize. According to the Pew Research Center, that is already almost true for seven percent of Americans, for whom the cell phone is the only device they utilize for browsing the Internet.

Being the sort of person with multiple laptops all around the house, multiple smart phones, and an assortment of other internet-connected devices, I cannot fathom having only a cell phone to access the web. What's more telling, most of my devices even sync up with one another, so whatever I was browsing yesterday on my phone I can check out this evening on my laptop (thanks, Chrome, Evernote, and Dropbox).

Still, one thing is true - computers are getting smaller. And if you are designing content for computers, the form factor has to be something you consider in how your content is displayed, and how that content interacts with a smaller device.

I'm not sure the tablet will kill the laptop (Microsoft might want me to buy a Surface to challenge that theory, but I almost think of a Surface as a laptop). I am not sure that a large percentage of adults will abandon their PCs for phones and join the seven percent anytime soon. But I am certain that the phones of today process tremendously more than computers that filled rooms fifty years ago. The tablets today are more powerful than the personal computers of ten years ago. Even the laptops themselves compete on how razor-thin they can go with the design. Let's not forget the wearables (yes, including you, little Apple Watch).

Portability is key. People do not stay in a single place tethered to a wire all day, and our technology will continue to keep pace. So as our technology continues to develop, how will you use it? And how will we define content that is relevant and device-independent?