What’s In The Future For Smartphones?

Over the last several years smartphones have exploded in popularity, which means more and more people have an interest in how smartphones will improve. Computerworld has an article titled “Smartphones of the future: How will they look, what will they do” that provides some interesting predictions of what we might see in the future.

The people interviewed in the article are pretty convinced that the smartphone display size will remain no larger than 4.3 inches. Consequently, they see innovations around maximizing how much can be displayed within that size. For example, we may see more attempts at dual screen displays like the Kyocera Echo.

Another idea in the article is wearable phones, which harkens to the Star Trek communicator badge. The example cited in the article are wristwatch phones, though I think rather than fully functional phones in a wristwatch, what we will see is data sharing between smartphones and watches. The Fossil Meta Watch is just such a device that displays information from a smartphone on the watch’s screen.

As far as how we will use our smartphones, the article talks about Near Field Communication (NFC), which provides short distance radio communication between phones and other devices to do things like transfer money. Google is very committed to NFC and the Nexus S has a NFC chip, although there is really no use for it yet.

Augmented Reality, is another feature we already see in apps like Layar and Google Goggles, but is likely to be significantly improved. The best augmented reality will quickly recognize the visual input from a phone’s camera and quickly provide information about what you see, such as the direction of the nearest restroom.

I am disappointed to read in the article that the one thing smartphones need the most, improved battery life, is not seen as coming any time soon, given the desire to keep smartphones small. That most likely means we will see more efforts around faster charging batteries and inductive charging so that it’s quick and easy to recharge phones.

Whether or not these predictions happen remains to be seen, but what is certain is that smartphones, and mobile technology in general, is growing in importance, and therefore will be the focus of innovation.