For many years, Apple has shown a tendency to happily lag behind their competitors when it comes to integrating the latest features into their products. Conversely, however, they have not often lacked for fiercely loyal fans and consumers due to the quality they generally produce when they finally offer a new product or feature.
Every once in a while, however, Apple actually leads the way in introducing new products or features that leave their competitors in a trail of dust. In August, Apple unveiled their highly anticipated and much vaunted iPhone X. In contrast to the Home Pod, which was introduced years after similar devices like the Amazon Echo or Google Home, it quickly became clear that the iPhone X was the phone everyone else was soon to imitate.
Here are 5 ways Apple is setting the pace for future trends in Smartphone Technology.
While Samsung and a number of other companies led the way in the VR market, offering bulky headsets and a number of other devices to place you right in the center of the action, Apple skipped right over VR into AR. The difference between Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) is that virtual reality essentially “cloaks” or cuts you off from the world around you, allowing you to feel as if you have left one reality and stepped completely into another.
AR, on the other hand, essentially creates an overlay that integrates seamlessly with the physical world around you. Among many advantages of AR over VR is the wide range of potential for daily or real-life use, versus VR which can’t be used while you’re walking down the street.
Natural Language User Interface
While Siri is not often thought of as advanced tech, Apple was one of the first companies to pioneer the natural language user interface. To understand the difference, think of the first search engines versus the ones we use today.
Original search engines needed commands to be phrased or coded in a certain way in order for the computer to understand them and they could only search for one or two key words. Today, search engines can accurately interpret entire complex sentences phrased in a wide variety of ways.
A natural language user interface also helps overcome differences within a single language. For instance, a boot and a bonnet mean something very different in American English than they do in British English.
Natural language user interfaces allow digital assistants to better understand what a user is requesting even when they don’t use more formal “command” language.
3D Screens and Holograms
The iPhone X with its retina display actually crossed a threshold of offering a screen with a higher resolution than what the human eye is even capable of deciphering. The next stage in development for smartphones will be images that literally leap off the screen, either in 3D or holographic form.
While some smartphone manufacturers already offer 3D technology, they pale in comparison to what the future promises to bring. In the not too distant future, instead of receiving a photo of the Eiffel Tower from a friend visiting Paris, you may be able to take a full 3-Dimensional tour with them.
While the personal and individual uses for the tech are exciting, the medical and commercial uses are possibly the most promising.
Paper thin screens that can be folded and handled much like an actual sheet of paper have long been a basic staple in sci-fi movies. Soon they may be one more fictional fantasy to become an actual reality. The same tech that currently resides atop your iPhone X may soon loose its bulky backing to become a lightweight, portable, moldable, flexible screen.
OLED screens – or Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) technology – are already incredibly thin, light and flexible, but your phone is still rigid and heavy thanks to the other sensitive components it needs to run. The time may not be far off, however, when you can fold up your screen, put it in your pocket, wear it around your wrist or even wear it on your t-shirt to create an ever-changing piece of digital, wearable art.
Interactive 3-D modeling
While VR has the ability to transport you into an alternate reality and AR can integrate with the actual physical world around you, interactive tech provides the missing piece of the puzzle. At the moment, when you play a video game, you can often customize an avatar with a number of different features to make it look as much like or as different from you as you like.
Interactive tech will use 3-D modeling to create an amazingly life-like replica of your image so that you can literally watch yourself move through a game or through the world. Imagine being able to check and see before you ever board a plane exactly how much room you will have in a seat or if your carry on bag will actually fit in the overhead bins. With interactive 3-D modeling you can even virtually try on clothes before buying them. With interactive 3-D modeling, the possibilities are almost limitless.
In addition to being the editor at designrfix and writing about tech, web and graphic design among other subjects, I love “unplug” and be outdoors hiking and enjoying nature. If you can’t reach me, it’s probably because where I am at doesn’t have cell phone reception.