I am fortunate enough to be attending TEDActive 2013 this year, and will be a part of the Mobile Project team. Below is a post I wrote for the mobile project blog about a few things I have been thinking about as it relates to the future of mobile.
Towards a Better Mobile Experience
There is a lot of chaos in mobile technology today, with dozens of devices and screen resolutions, different operating systems and browsers, and millions of apps, the way people experience “mobile” can be quite different depending on the phone or tablet they have and the ecosystem they have chosen to be a part of (iOS, Android, Microsoft, etc.).
On one hand, this chaos is exciting because it means that the industry is growing, competing, and innovating more than ever before and all of this activity provides new and interesting ways for us as humans to communicate and explore our world.
On the other hand, this chaos can breed fragmentation, which creates frustration and inconsistency for consumers resulting in wasted time, lackluster experiences, and investment in design and development solutions that are expensive and unsustainable in the long run.
So, one of the questions I find myself thinking about is: How can we look at the future of mobile in a more device-independent way? One that reduces the impact of this fragmentation on our experiences with the technology.
The answer to this question, I believe, is still a few years out. However, there are a number of interesting things happening in the fields of Web design and development, journalism, user experience, and industrial design, that provide clues as to what the eventual solution might be. Below are three examples:
Responsive design provides us with a number of techniques that allow designers and developers to create interfaces geared towards a more device-independent world. Techniques such as fluid grids, adaptive images, and media queries allow us to create applications that respond dynamically to the display. This allows us to create better, and more consistent, experiences across the full range of mobile devices without needing separate creative or development pipelines.
Superdistribution of Content
Superdistribution (a term coined by C.W. Anderson, Emily Bell, and Clay Shirky in a recent report by the Tow Center for Digital Journalism) refers to the idea that digital content is increasingly separating itself from its point of origin, and shifting its context depending on how it is shared, reposted, retweeted, or liked. Affinity for digital content is less and less bound to a specific source, application, or device, and many businesses are beginning to adapt to this new reality.
The New Interactive
Designing for experiences beyond the standard keyboard and mouse will lead to a new definition of mobile interactions. Advances such as adaptive, location-aware applications, embedded motion sensors (think XBox Kinect and Leap Motion), and wearable computing (such as Project Glass from Google) could change our relationship with mobile technology and provide a more intuitive (and perhaps universal) way for us to communicate.
Leading up to my TED experience, and the Mobile Project team that I am a part of, these are some of the things on my mind. Find me at TEDActive 2013 to continue this conversation! You can also find me here — http://www.ted.com/profiles/190837