The Future of Mobiles: Has phone technology peaked?

Phone technology has changed so drastically in the past 10 years. The smart phone barely existed and shockingly, the main purpose of a mobile phone was in fact to make phone calls - an absurd concept for the youth of 2017.

With the release of the iPhone X imminent, it has made us think about this evolution and the possibility that we may have reached the peak of mobile technology. 

The iPhone X offers the introduction of face recognition, it has banished the iconic home button, and has welcomed us to the world of 'Animoji' 

But the question is - do any of these features actually improve our life? *inserts curious face emoji*

There is no doubt that we have advanced from the classic flip phone, and the smart phone really has impacted our lives in a positive way - but where else can it go from here? 

Apple are not the first company to market face recognition technology, however previous attempts have been somewhat unsuccessful. Samsung introduced this concept with their Galaxy S8 model earlier this year, but it was soon found out for its serious security flaw - the phone can be unlocked using a photograph. 

Whilst Apple have reassured their customers that their technology is tried and tested as safe, it begs the question, was it worth it? It is reported that Apple have spent four years perfecting their Face ID to ensure it works flawlessly, reducing risks of hacking to 1,000,000 to 1, and putting into place an in-built ‘kill-switch’ in the scenario that someone should try and force you to unlock your phone… saving us a total of three seconds that it takes to enter a passcode. 

We cannot forget the other important use of Face ID of course, Animoji. An extension of the existing Emoji feature, Animoji will use the Face ID hardware to create custom 3D versions of the original emoji, picking up accurate facial expressions to send in text messages where the recipient will receive a looping video with audio as created by your face.

Whilst Animoji’s are sure to be hours of endless fun… or perhaps just until the novelty wares off, it does seem a tenuous and unnecessary update. 

It is true that Face ID is a real advancement in technology, and had it have been suggested as a concept 10 years ago we’d have bitten your hand off to own a mobile phone that could actually detect a specific face. However, in 2017 it’s not so much mind-blowing as it is just another feature on a new phone.

The iPhone X has also been designed with the view to achieve a better augmented reality (AR) experience using both the rear camera and the TrueDepth camera to create unique AR apps, which is of course a growing trend.

AR was thrown into the spotlight in 2016 during the summer of ‘Pokémon Go’ where the app saw a surge of users playing the game that overlaid characters through the phones camera, putting them in real life backgrounds for players to catch.

This widespread use of AR is becoming more common as brands such as Ikea and L’Oreal are adopting the technique to enable their customers to view their life with their products before purchasing them. 

Ikea have released their own app, which uses AR to help their customers visualise Ikea furniture in their home before they buy it. The user can browse through Ikea’s popular collections, select an item, then through the camera the app will detect where the floor is and show a 3D version of the item in the room. 

L’Oreal are using a similar concept where their users can select a make-up product and see what it would look like on their face without having to physically put it on. 

AR is an advancement that is planned to spread beyond gaming and mobile apps, with the ability to improve education and healthcare sectors among others. There is definitely a gap for AR in society for both work life and personal use, and with current social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram following the trend as set by Snapchat, it is clear that there is an interest in AR from consumers. 

But the question is, whilst AR is growing and the ability for the iPhone to keep up with this is an attractive feature for potential buyers, is it enough to convince someone to invest in Apple’s £1000 price tag? 

The features of the new iPhone X are improvements sure, but are the improvements that great that someone would ditch their currently working mobile phone and invest significantly more money into a new handset that lets them unlock it with their face… sadly probably yes.

Phone manufacturers continue to add unnecessary features to their new devices each year as they try to keep up with not only their competitors but with themselves,  as consumers expect new exciting products every 6 months even when, in reality, there is very little left that actually needs to be improved.  

Samsung and LG are currently working on the new ‘bendy’ phone, which will allow us to fold our screens in half so we can have the screen size of a tablet but only have to carry the size of a mobile. 

If our biggest problem is that we don’t have the bag space for a tablet but Netflix is easier to watch on a larger screen then surely things can’t be that bad… either that or we’ve become too spoilt for choice to recognise that actually it’s not that much of a problem and we could probably suffer through and save a fair few bob in the process.

Whilst these new wacky developments might sound appealing initially, the point is that mobile technology is struggling to produce anything more than it has done previously, and yet, we’re still faced with issues like the battery light flashing through our cracked phone screen before it dies once again.

Where do Apple or Samsung have left to go from here? Do you think there is a future in smartphones or will people revert back to days before Siri and Alexa?

Let us know what you think, tweets us at @OrchardTweets!



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