The future is coming. We’ll see some of it today, more of it tomorrow, and an increasing amount of it in weeks, months, years, and decades to come. As a student of history, there are times when you can see what’s coming based upon what you’ve seen already.
They say that ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.‘ I understand. The past gives us perspective on the present, but can also indicate what the future may be like; especially so if we don’t pay close attention to the lessons already learned. Look at iPhone 7. What does it look like now? Look at Apple Watch. What will it look like in 2024?
What Goes Around
At a very basic level, iPhone 7 looks much like the original iPhone from 2007. It’s rectangular with rounded corners, flat and thin, and has a big screen and a big battery to see the screen powered and the device connected.
Not much of a change, right? Compare a new MacBook to the original Mac in 1984. The new model is half the price, much smaller but far, far more powerful, with tremendous advancements in every component. Yet, it’s still point and click (Siri in macOS Sierra notwithstanding). Likewise, at a very basic level, the future doesn’t change much from the past. But it changes.
Watch Me Now
Alright, let’s put all the pieces together. The iPhone remains, well, a powerful cellphone, yes, but a more powerful personal computer with capabilities not even dreamed of back during the launch in 2007. From that, can we extrapolate to envision Apple Watch in nine years, circa 2024?
The computer’s command line interface of arcane commands gave way to point and click which moved aside for touchscreen. Watch today is a mini-mini-iPhone with its own CPU, its own tiny screen, its own applications, but crammed into a far more mobile, more wearable, and potentially, a far more usable product.
How so? How can that small screen compete with the usefulness of Quad-HD screens the size of an iPhone? The same way that HD screens compete with Retina displays on the Mac. The interface of personal computers– Mac to iPhone– went from point and click to touch the screen. Watch may experience a similar change in the future thanks to artificial intelligence and front-facing functionality similar to Siri.
Such a leap forward suggests better batteries, smaller and faster CPUs, improved screens, but more importantly, not only apps that exceed Watch today in 2016, but with an speech interface that exceeds Siri’s capabilities today– merely advanced to 2024. Siri has been around awhile, dating back to the iPhone 4, but only now has Apple moved the technology into the hands of third party developers. As internet speeds increase, as Siri’s speech recognition improves, as Apple’s moves the personal and intelligent assistant deeper into the operating system, we will begin to see the value of artificial intelligence as a personal user level, whereby a device interacts with humans in ways– hopefully– that are improvements upon how we interact with each other.
What will Watch and Siri and Apple’s version of artificial intelligence look like in 2014, nine years after the devices launch? How much of Siri will be on the Watch itself? How much of Siri’s AI capability be in the cloud, more easily accessed by a faster internet? Apple placed a more usable Mac into an always-on device that can be handheld and fit into a pocket. Can Apple place take an even more intelligent and useful device and move it from the pocket and hand to the wrist? Or, to intelligent contact lenses or glasses?
The future will tell. But we’ll know more about where the future leads and where it should go when we pay attention to the past.