My So-Called Mobile Life

Do you remember “this is the year of mobile” as a rallying cry way back in 2007?  And in 2008?  And in 2009, 2010 and 2011?  Those were the days.  Mobile surely has a come a long way since then!

In 2019, mobile is clearly a mature medium.

These days mobile represents the central channel of access and information for almost everyone (mobile search is greater than desktop).  Mobile has become the remote control for your life: You control your music, your content, your blog and everything through apps on your phone).  It is the cornerstone of your digital home (your lights are connected; smart plugs are connected).  

Mobile is a representation of your digital identity (your mobile ID can be connected to your online cookie, and location data can be appended to know where you go and what you do).  It is even the “head of operations” for your staff of personal virtual assistants, with almost all of them being accessed and/or managed through your phone (far beyond just Siri and Google, almost all virtual assistants have a companion app).   

Mobile is quickly becoming the nexus for voice and AI, and will likely become even more valuable in the coming two to three years because the mobile device is your constant companion and voice is the primary way of engaging with a phone, for obvious reasons.

Herein likes a challenge facing mobile: spam and robocalls.  Your phone is with you all the time and it allows you to have access to anything almost all of the time.  Unfortunately, the reverse is also true: Anyone has access to you just as often.  

This can be extremely frustrating.  I get unwanted calls and far too many notifications on my device, which is training me to become numb.  I rarely answer the phone these days, unless I know beyond the shadow of a doubt who it is.  I rarely pay attention to notifications because they pop up every couple of minutes and create a sort of “boy who cried wolf” type of scenario.  If everything is notifying me, nothing must be important.

There’s also another challenge that faces mobile. It’s a product of its own complexity.  Carrying around that much information in my pocket creates a threat of my information getting out, and so everything is passcode- and two-factor-authenticated to protect its security.  

Of course, I’m happy these things are protected, but it’s almost analogous to the security of “child-protected” caps on pill bottles: It’s too hard for most adults to open them!

I look forward to the very near future, when a facial ID coupled with a fingerprint scan will unlock access to my phone, and I won’t have be forced to remember the 27-digit passcode I have, that feels as though it gets reset every two weeks, causing me an hour of fumbling around to find the code to complete the reset.  

Sometimes I choose not to use an app simply because I can’t get into it!  I am literally life-locked right out of half my digital life because I can’t remember the passcode.  The lights in my house turn on and off at strange times, and I have no way to fix it anymore!

Don’t get me wrong. I love all the wonders of mobile tech, but I foresee a future where I can control the world’s access to me, and my access to phone features I find essential.  That, coupled with the larger form factor of foldable screen phones plus 5G, will truly be an amazing day for technology.  I don’t think it’s that far away — but it’s just far enough.

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