Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The Web on the Move, Part 1

So I guess this lesson succeeded in that it made me upgrade my ancient (i.e. 2 year old) phone and get a new touch-screen smartphone!  So unfair that I have to wait hours for it to charge before I use it! T_T

Frankly, I was surprised I managed to hold out for so long.  Smartphones are now pretty ubiquitous, and being a bit of a gadget fan, the temptation was certainly there to capitulate to the web as mobile platform.  So why are smartphones so popular?

Having a computer in your pocket whilst on the move is certainly a big pro.  The main pro of mobile devices is that they are context aware.  The know where they are, and can provide lots of information about their location, e.g. in-built GPS system.  The cons are obviously the limited screen and keyboard size (not so much of a problem for someone with tiny hands like me, and I like bite-sized phones, but hey...).  Other cons like limited connectivity and battery life are Moore's Law problems, and will probably get solved if you sit around for another couple of years (which is what I ended up doing before I got my new phone, lol!).

The main problem with mobile devices is that they don't really fulfil user's information needs.  It is the current technology that defines our needs.  For example, with my old phone, I knew there was no point in trying to connect to City's Moodle system, because my phone simply could not handle it.  It would have been mighty useful to have access to Moodle like I would have had on a Smartphone, but it was impossible and so I would just wait until I had access to my laptop.

Looking at it from another angle, technology can also provide users with things they never knew they wanted.  Just now I saw an advert for the new iPhone 4S, with voice control technology.  Want to know if you need an umbrella when you go out tonight?  Just ask your phone.  It'll give you an immediate answer.  But who would have thought you'd even want this before it became reality?

My laptop has in-built voice recognition technology.  Wow, I thought!  I can really do with this.  After setting it up and using it for a day to get it to learn my speech patterns, guess what - I never used it again.  Maybe I didn't need it so much after all.

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