GeekNights Monday - What's next for Smartphones?

Tonight on GeekNights, in light of a weakening smartphone market, we consider what truly would be a step forward for these devices. In the news, Rym replaced his near-perfect Xperia Z5 compact with a brand new Xperia XZ1 Compact. It's easily the best Android smartphone on the market, particularly if you prefer a reasonable form factor. Avoid the newer, more expensive, deeply inferior XZ2 Compact: it's larger for some reason. The full story of the PC recycler Microsoft sent to jail is more nuanced than it initially appeared. Comcast is so desperate to say that people still watch traditional TV that they're requiring it to upgrade your Internet service.

Things of the Day

Episode Links

Prediction: @SkeleRym continues to push his tiny phones for ants agenda.

So when are we gonna have commlinks from Shadowrun and Google Glass type glasses so I can just read Reddit with my eyes forward?

Ah man, I thought you were going to go nuts in this segment.

Maybe you needed to specify a timeframe. 5 years? 50? 100?

I’ll rattle a few off for ya.

Safety: Any phone thrown up into the air (forcefully) immediately activates a drone mode where phone tracks and follows user while simultaneously broadcasting video/data to preset contacts.

Phone integrated into body. Black mirror level tech. Archangel etc.

Taser mode… (lol)

Display: Wall projectors, vertical hologram out of phone, In eye display (I know you mentioned that) organic body display aka On your palm or inside wrist.

Battery: Unlimited. How? Don’t know. Maybe a new kind of dedicated grid to power ultra low power devices. Just saying, this would be a huge upgrade for mobile tech. Old phones would be obsolete overnight.

Durability: Indestructible. Straight up unbreakable.

100+ years: Basically ghost in the shell. Assuming everyone has the minimum communications tech, everything else is just a buffet of upgrades, there is no ‘phone’ just a vast array of the features that phones used to have, separated out and installed as desired.

AI: aka ‘Her’ everyone has their own personal AI secretary. Everything done through AI hologram, natural conversation and 3D holographic display, phone (or chip) is just for taking AI with you. aka Blade Runner 2049. Maybe only you can see it - legit personal.

Could prob think of way more, depends how far forward you want to go.

I think unlimited battery and indestructible would do it for most people.

Edit: Oh god the entire medical industry moving into phones. Emergency drug synthesis, real time medical diagnosis etc

The ability to play a first person shooter.

In my job I sometimes get to look at building models on my computer which run on a computer at autodesk and are viewable to me through the browser with no specific software download, it just works and it’s amazing.

Ideally I’d be able to go to site and look at the building being built and say to the guy doing the work “don’t build it like that, build it like this!” and show him how it should look on my smartphone.

Unfortunately the user interface on the computer to position my view uses a wasd type which doesn’t exist on the smartphone. So I can get the model up on smartphone and try to rotate it and “walk” forward but instead I zoom in and the sensitivity changes and I can’t get “inside” the building model at all. It’s not suitable.

As soon as they figure out first person shooters on a smartphone they’ll figure out how to walk around a building model whilst in the building being built.

At first I thought my iPhone X screen was too big… until I noticed I’d not used my iPad Mini in two months. Then I realized it was the perfect size to replace both my iPhone 6 and my iPad Mini. Big enough that watching videos and reading ebooks wasn’t worth switching to another device, and well worth not having to carry an extra device.

The OLED screen is easily the nicest screen I’ve used. I love the touch to wake feature, just like my Apple Watch, so much so that non-OLED screens now feel broken when I touch them and nothing happens.

The battery is incredible too, and I think a lot of that comes from the OLED screen. I used to have my iPhone 6 in a smart case, which was great because no matter how heavily I used my phone, it would get to the end of the day still at 80% (having drained the smart battery first). This new phone has never gotten below 40% at the end of the day since I bought it, despite many days of super heavy use.

I’ve got to the point now where with my iPhone X, third series Apple Watch and new MacBook Pro, I just never have to worry about charging or carrying battery packs ever, and only charge at the end of the day. This is a HUGE quality of life bump compared to other previously, especially as someone who travels 200 days a year. I now only carry a usb battery when flying for more than 8 hours and I know I’ll be watching Netflix on my phone for many hours.

Connect a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. Done.

On a building site? My clipboard is only so big.

Here’s just one possibility.

And a second one

Oh hey, it’s that keyboard I keep seeing folk occasionally use for wrist-computer props.

Shadowrun Commlinks are charged wirelessly by induction. Might be possible with the current cellular network, or I’m talking out of my ass.

I like Scott mixed expression on the Comcast bit. “The whole can of worms collapses.”

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That’d need some serious changes in attacker vs defender dichotomy before it was good to go. I was thinking, what if it’s completely air-gapped. Nah, every security exploit and it’s mother coming out of academia these days is against air-gapped computers.

Long story short is that I don’t want the device literally in my head betraying me. Ever, for any reason.

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If they stick to cellular telephony only couldn’t it just be a cochleal or inner ear implant?

Then the attack avenue would be very Bergeronian.

Yes BUT, if it’s still a computer, it can be made to do whatever is within it’s power if compromised. A cochlear implant can casually be made to emit it’s loudest noise possible continuously until it runs out of battery. Or until I manually rip it out of my head, causing wonderful medical trauma.

I’m not trying to be alarmist, just pointing out that in the modern age of computing, the edge in the attacker vs defender fight is with the attacker. There’s a multitude of reasons for this. You can read about some of it in Schneier’s earlier books or just on his blag. Maybe that won’t be the case in the future but as it stands, everything is likely to be compromised at some point in it’s life-cycle.

I distrust any system that doesn’t spend 20-30% of its total resources on self-defense.

Spend less than that and it’s going to get hacked. Spend more than that and it’s just a giant heat sink.

Getting around to listening to the show: Pretty sure the Comcast thing is just a pretty obvious customer retention program, combined with a bundling incentive. My ISP(not for lack of trying to go to someone else, but unfortunately location prevents) does something similar, offering discounts to people who subscribe to both Teslstra internet, and the cable TV service they partially own, Foxtel. Optus also do something similar with their internet and cable TV packages, Dodo does it with their Fetch TV, Sky in the UK does it with their cable service, so do Virgin and BT, and they all have for years, since before twitch or streaming games were really a big thing. It’s a pretty standard marketing trick that’s been around for ages, almost as long as combination ISP/Cable providers.

I remember when I was living in that sharehouse in Headingly, we kept getting Sky offering us Cable TV and internet discounts if we picked up both as a common thing, only about a year after Justin.TV launched. When I lived in Birkenshaw, we had both sky internet and cable as a discounted bundle, and again, that was only a year later, pre-dating the launch of twitch, let alone the popularity of game streaming, by about two years.

Victor will almost certainly have some interesting input on Neilsen ratings, he knows more about them than anyone else I know right now.