More than a Phone: How Innovation has Redefined Communication
The word ‘innovation’ can be defined as the process or action of creating new things or coming up with new ways to improve the usual method of doing something. The recent wave of innovation in communications have seen our mobile phones continue to just get smarter and smarter.
The Nokia Years
In the early years, mobile phones like the Nokia 1100 were bulky and small, with no internet access. The simple game of snake was the most innovative feature of a phone outside of texting and calls back in the day. Motorola released StarTAC in 1996 which was one of the first mobiles to become widely popular. You can now scan your boarding pass, play your favourite games, order food, share/consume and create content, bank, and do more and more each year using your smartphone. Life is extremely busy, with more and more people choosing even to watch their TV shows and movies on apps like Netflix on-the-go. These days a smartphone allows you to take a HD screen wherever you go. According to a report published by Statista, smartphone users are set to reach 2.08 billion this year.
The Google Principle
Google has ‘9 Principles of Innovation’ such as focusing on technical insights, having a mission that matters, and removing the negative stigma about perceived ‘failure’ in a field. The principle that stood out the most to me was Google’s ‘Focus on the User’. The hope when bringing anything fresh or new onto the market is that the consumer will have a positive experience. This not only means analysing what seems to be popular and successful, but also it means taking risks and valuing creativity above all else. In this sense the smartphone has altered the way we do personal computing forever. It’s capacity to use and link up information from all parts of our lives has allowed the technology of our mobiles to grow exponentially and independently.
Store More, Do More
Many brands have created smartphones with varying features and capabilities, and further strides in technology innovation has continued to set benchmarks around the world. When creative thinking focuses on a practical need anything is possible. Not only an A10 processor will be added to the iPhone 7 (current iPhones only have A9) but Apple are increasing its RAM to 2GLPPDR4. This will be double of what current iPhones are installed with. Most of us use our phone to access the internet, with 10% of our time spent using an internet browser and 90% in apps. So how much tech developers can change and build is dependent on gaging what is possible to achieve within the limits of storage, battery life and network capacity. But even in these areas tech giants and start-ups are creating ways to expand what smartphones can do, like ever-increasing battery life and the increasing ability to store data on the cloud.
Our attention is not only on shiny screens, silver or even rose-gold hardware (in the case of the iPhone 6 and 6s), or getting the highest megapixel camera, but instead increasingly turned towards selecting phones with fast access to the internet and depended on what apps we can download.
Social media has created a new dimension to owning a phone. Apps such as Instagram, Facebook chat, Twitter, Flickr, WhatsApp and Snapchat enable us to post our own opinions and content and also send personalised messages including photos to other people who have the app on their phone. Snapchat has certainly enjoyed a very fast rise in the smartphone world. An average of 9,000 photos or ‘snaps’ are shared every second. Our smartphone enable us to stay connected all of the time, and older forms of communication such as letter writing or a simple phone call have become outdated. SMS ruled technology for almost a decade, however the launch of IM apps such as Skype, Viber and the recent launch of Allo by Google to rival WhatsApp, show how valuable social connections are to consumers. People prefer to share a moment or video rather than actually writing a message. If you feel the need to organise your social media, you can download Flipboard, an app that allows you to keep track of photos, videos and news that interests you, with in a stylish arrangement. There is even app being developed that can recognise your emotions and mood. Xpression, developed by U.K based EI Technologies, is a mood-sensing app intended to enable people to track their emotions as well as what triggers them.
Last year, Samsung became the top mobile manufacturer in the world. The company’s ‘recognition technology’ such as the iris eye scanner on Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 is redefining the way we think about traditional passport protection and privacy. Samsung’s Galaxy App store has 14 million monthly active users. Samsung recognise the way our perceptions of our trusty hand held devices have changed. The concept of multi-screen viewing, where media can be viewed on many screens at the same time, is one of Samsung’s main interests right now.
It is clear to see that innovation isn’t going to slow down in the smartphone world. Communication is shifting towards being completely digitised. And as breakthroughs in how much information can be stored and accessed through our phones, it will only feed into the increasing need and desire to do and be empowered to do more each day using our phones.
Sarah Claffey | Innovation Editor