Apps And The Cloudified World
In a normal working day, I will use four different devices to access the internet – a computer at work, a laptop at home, a smartphone and an iPad (or tablet, whatever). I thoroughly enjoy being able to read op-ed columns from the NY Times regardless of whether I’m sitting at my desk, or standing at a cafe waiting in line to get a bagel and cream cheese.
But here’s my problem: they all use remarkably different operating systems. At work, I tend to use Word Press in Google Chrome on Windows 7. When I’m out and about, I’m scanning the Android marketplace on my Android smartphone. When I’m on laying on the couch downstairs, I’ll browse news articles in iOS on my iPad. And, finally, when I’m working at home, I’ll use Word on my OSX laptop.
If you were paying attention to what I just told you, you might have noticed that none of the items I listed use the same operating system. OSX and iOS are similar, but that’s the closest that they get. Beyond that, I also typically use my different devices for widely different functions.
But what happens when they collide? What happens when I want to bring up the same exact web page, in the same exact spot, on a different device. Or, start writing an e-mail on one, and finish it on another? I can’t. And for the most part, it sucks.
That’s an important issue for me. On all of these different operating systems, I also use entirely different mail applications. On my laptop I use Thunderbird, on my iPad I use Mail, on my work computer I use Microsoft Outlook and on my smart phone I use GMail. Browsers are different, too. Safari, Atomic, Google Chrome and Dolphin, respectively.
My real problem is a lack of consistency. Being able to close a web page and bring it up on the exact same page utilizing entirely different apps is just not possible. There’s no central place to save their location to for each individual, and have another device automatically bring that up. There are “clouds” sure, but there isn’t one, single Cloud that can save the state of a variety of different applications, and allow users to bring that on their various devices, regardless of whether or not they are running a similar operating system.
Apps like Evernote have already begun to do so, automatically saving files to their cloud servers and granting users consistent access across all of their varying devices.
And even operating systems as a whole are beginning to mesh with their mobile counterparts, creating more consistent ecosystems across a wide variety of devices. OSX Lion and now Windows 8 are already beginning to take features from their mobile platforms, iOS and Windows Phone 7, respectively, and applying that their current and future operating systems. Lion has begun to take a similar approach towards switching between apps, whereas Windows 8 seems to be adopting a tile-based user interface that has been heavily influenced by Windows 7.
But it’s just inevitable that, as the question of just how long, exactly, people will be continue to use desktop PCs persists, companies are finding way to make that whole transition much smoother.
Now, the next step is in creating a consistent ecosystem for every application and across every device. I want to be able to save a Word document on my laptop, and bring up the exact same document on my work computer, my iPad and even my smart phone. Web browsing, too, should be a similar experience. I should have the ability to save my tabs and places on each page, and bring that information up on another entirely different device.
Those features being inherent among all of our everyday technological devices are only a few years away, at the most. The technological world thrives off of innovations in consistency and simplicity. Cloud computing has made this trend more and more common.
But for now, I’ll continue to sulk about the fact that I’m currently slightly inconvenienced that I have to e-mail myself or save to a thumbdrive a Word document that I want to continue editing on a different computer. It’s a problem, but it’s one that can be fixed. Now, for the sake of my sanity, get on it Apple and Microsoft (and anyone else).
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