With a somewhat shrinking mobile ecosystem, and a relatively lower number of true successful mobile platforms, do we really need 'Device Agnostic' solutions anymore? How will mobile applications look like in just a few years from now? And what devices will they run on?
Do we really need 'Device Agnostic' applications?
The term 'Device Agnostic' became very popular in the past couple of years due to the growing fragmentation in the mobile world. For enterprise organizations, the challenge of supporting multiple devices types, operating systems and working modes (online, offline) made the ability to ignore the platform look appealing and magical.
But that was few years ago. Looking at the mobile ecosystem these days shows that Microsoft's Windows Mobile (once a very popular platform in the enterprise), and Windows Phone barely exist in the enterprise, RIM is slowly becoming irrelevant and other smaller alternatives are not playing a significant role.
Today's mobility includes iOS, Android, and Windows (assuming we call laptops mobile devices). That's it. So the big question is – do we really need to care about 'Device Agnostic' solutions? Maybe it's time to kill this term and look for the next big thing in mobility? Can it be that device agnostic solutions became irrelevant?
The answer is: NO WAY.
Not only will device agnostic remain relevant, I believe this term will remain important and will probably evolve into new things, as we move forward with Windows 8 and the next generation of mobile devices.
Future Mobile Devices:
Windows 8 is all about touch, and mobile. It's a combination of everything that was good in previous Windows versions along with the new touch experience powered by Microsoft's Metro UI. The vision behind it is devices such as the 'Surface': hybrids, semi tablets, semi laptops, but it's only the beginning; we are already getting familiar with webtops and lapdocks, and as time moves forward we will see more and more of those hybrid devices: mobile phones turning into tablets, or powering full desktops. It's only a matter of time and we will be there.
Hybrid devices will increase popularity, and when they do, they will mix-up our terminology: mobile apps will run on desktops, online services will have to be adjusted to offline usage, every app will have to automatically adapt itself to different screen sizes, form factors, and integrate with different hardware capabilities.
Seamlessly of course.
This is the Post PC Era, but you can bet Windows will still play a significant part of it. Maybe not as dominant as 10 years ago, but definitely still significant.
In such era, device agnostic solutions will have to work on multiple platforms (iOS, Android, Windows), multiple screen sizes (smartphones, tablets, desktops) and multiple environments (online, offline, portable devices, robotics, cars, etc.). And as such, the tools we will be using will be much more sophisticated than they are today:
- Software will be device agnostic: it will run on multiple operating systems
- Software will be responsive: the user interface will automatically adjust itself to the screen size of the device. (What is responsive web design)
- Software will be adaptive: adjusting itself to the hardware capabilities of each device to provide optimal user experience.
- Software will focus on NUI, Speech, and Personal Assistants: OK, this might take longer then 1-2 years but at first it will be less touching, and more talking / moving, and after a while we will do less of anything that involves human-machine interface because the software will be intelligent enough to do things without ordering it to.
This is how I envision future mobility: where "web" is everywhere, everything is "mobile" aware, and device agnostic stands for a sophisticated, responsive, adaptive technology we will use without even noticing…
Some examples of responsive UI:
Transformers: Constructions turning into Devastator – Adaptive or Responsive?