With more smartphones on the market than ever before, consumers looking for the latest and greatest gadgets to spend their days glued to, have a tough choice when it comes to picking out a device.
Do they go for the bigger, phablet phones or stick with the smaller form factor? How about a physical keyboard? Android, iOS or BlackBerry? These are all questions that people have to ask themselves before deciding on what device will run their lives for the coming years.
But while there are more options than ever in terms of smartphone types available, the actual features across the industry’s various handsets are pretty much synching up so that nobody is truly missing out on anything significant.
Remember when front-facing cameras on phones were a big deal? Then it was HD resolution screens and cameras, storage space, video calling, 4G and LTE. There were times when all of the above were features that made or broke a phone’s appeal. Now, if a phone comes out without all of the aforementioned, nobody would even consider picking it up, but the thing is, innovation seems to be finally slowing down when it comes to new phones.
When the iPhone 5 came out last year, it finally added 4G to Apple’s flagship device, on top of a larger screen and slightly thinner form-factor. Now there’s talk of Apple preparing to release the next iteration in August, but with all of the features that users could ever seemingly want, the only thing that people have been talking about is a possible larger screen to keep up with the large-screen trend.
The iPhone’s direct competitor, the Samsung Galaxy series of phones, has pretty much perfected the hardware side of things, offering two large screen sizes, plenty of horsepower under the hood and essentially the same software features as Apple, including voice-activated everything and its own Siri-like digital assistant.
Rumours about the Samsung Galaxy SIV are saying that it will boast a feature called “smart scroll” where the front-facing camera will read the user’s eye movements and automatically scroll the page. Additionally, when the user is playing some form media, it will automatically pause when they turn away from the phone.
And therein lies where the future of innovation lies, software.
With the hardware capabilities having come to a point where annual improvements are negligible at best, the real changes will be on the software side of things to see some true innovation come forward. Things like BlackBerry’s shared screen video conferencing or remote-use apps are examples of new features that are purely software-driven.
Another interesting point is that because software is much easier for third-parties to get involved with than hardware production, users don’t have to wait around for the big companies to come up with something awesome to make purchasing a phone worthwhile. With the advent of user-generated apps, people are able to continually add new features to their devices without waiting a year or so for Apple, Google or BlackBerry to come up with it.
So until we see tactile touchscreens or smartphones with built-in printers, users the world over will have to content themselves with a few years of software-based upgrades, not that it’s a bad thing.