Ever wondered what the OS of the future would be like? I do…always. Kuluwaz’s post earlier made me finally write about something I’d always had at the back of my mind what the computing OS of the future would / should be.
So what do I think the OS of the future should be like? I’ll break my thoughts into the following sub topics
Mobile and physical as against cloud based: This goes against the mainstream school of thought, but I don’t believe the OS of the future will operate off cloud servers with devices as “windows” or “terminals” into that cloud (That is not saying the cloud would play no part, I’ll get to that in a bit). Part of my reasoning is because that will mean that the experience on the OS will never be uniform seeing as network speeds and standards will never be uniform worldwide (even if the bodies responsible wanted to enforce such, it will mean slowing down innovation e.g if the world had adopted the American standards years ago, Japan may have never invented 3G as we know it today). Another issue with a cloud-based OS is too much will be left to chance. There will always be service outages, networks cannot sustain 100% up-time the laws of science don’t make room for such.
As a result of the above, I think the future computing will be something relatively stable on a mobile device that backs up in the cloud and can dock to other hard ware and act as a CPU. That way even if there are network failures, you still have access to all your data on your device and if your device crashes, you still have it backed up in the cloud and synched with other devices; plus only your device is taken out, as against when a server goes out and thousands or millions of devices are taken out (remember the RIM outage? That was just a few services that went off…what if your whole OS went out that way?).
I think the future the of computing will be housed on phones and tabs, which will dock either physically or wirelessly (most likely wirelessly with a hardware dock option) to other hardware (e.g, you walk into your living room and have your TV become a smart TV, with internet access, social networking, video calling, access to office files that you can edit, access to media (videos, pictures, music) off your phone’s storage e.t.c. and when you walk out, it becomes a regular TV again).
Cloud: While I strongly believe that the future of OSes would not necessarily be powered by the cloud, the cloud storage and computing will play an important role in the day-to-day functions of the future Operating Systems. Backups, synchronizing data across devices, and more complex processing will probably be done on the cloud both for the convenience and also to save on the device’s power usage.
Integration: The Os of the future to be highly integrated and scalable not just with regards to the apps it runs with itself, but also with all other parallel OSes, and systems. Apps should play nice and work in unison/share data with each other (think being able to Instagram a photo of yours from Facebook or twitter without downloading the said picture or leaving the app you are on). The Os and by extension the device should also be highly integrated to other parallel OSes, systems, none compatibility should be a thing of the past.
Services: Even right now, the world is gradually moving away from platform loyalty, to using a platform that best caters to all their existing services from a single device and does so in the most convenient manner. I strongly believe with time this will continually become a determinant of what future OS platforms will be like. Focus will move from trying to pack as many differentiating features into platforms trying to offer the best experience for the user.
Voice activated: The OS of the future will at the very least support robust voice activated functions, apple’s siri is just a tip of the iceberg, and the reason for this would not necessarily be convenience or efficiency in my opinion (that is not saying it won’t be efficient or convenient), the driving factor will most likely be the “cool factor”, for a very long time such a feature has been in our collective dreams, fueled by Hollywood, so we all just want to have it. (I’m personally not a fan, majorly because I type and talk in two different ways…can’t wrap my head around how ridiculous I will sound dictating a formal email to a personal assistant)
Scalable: The Os of the future has to be based on a frame-work that is very scalable, and continuously backward compatible to technologies that matter, easily updatable without losing functions. We cannot keep getting cycles where an OS reaches its elastic limit and a fresh reboot is needed (see RIM’s blackberry OS and Nokia’s Symbian OS as examples), The OS of the future should be able to evolve with time without dying out.
Minimal use of data: Data use will probably be the most important factor of future OSes, all the current mobile and desktop OSes (besides blackberry OS) are serious data hugs. At the current rate of consumption and growth, service providers cannot keep up for too long, even right now; unlimited plans are already being capped and plans being throttled. At the same time a lot of services are being moved to the cloud, media consumption is also rapidly moving from downloading content for keeps to streaming (which funny enough is still downloading, just not for keeps this time. E.g streaming a song at different times when it’s not cached is the same as downloading that some at each instance). The result is that demand is outpacing supply meaning at some point real soon, if OSes do not find means of cutting down on consumption, network and service providers will pack up. Future OSes have to walk around this problem.
That’s a summary of the features I believe will define the OSes of the future…what do you think? Let me know in the comments.