Next year will mark the end of the first decade since the iPhone re-defined the mobile industry. Until its release, phones were little more than portable communication devices, capable of handling voice calls and text messages. After the iPhone was released, phones have become much more – devices that can handle almost everything a desktop computer does. You can use them to watch movies and listen to music, browse the internet and play online casino games, make payments and issue invoices using them. And the smartphones are getting bigger and better with each passing year.
But this year is different. This year Apple and the biggest Android phone manufacturers couldn’t show us anything new. Of course, they improved a lot of features compared to previous models, but there is no true innovation in their devices, nothing to really get excited about. Nothing to make you want – or need – the latest flagship phone, nothing to set it high above last year’s model.
The only smartphone platform that has presented truly innovative features this year is Windows 10, Microsoft’s take on a mobile operating system. The new platform comes with two notable functions that were not present on any other: Universal Apps and Continuum. And these, although they are not as discussed as they should be, represent true innovation in the world of mobile computing.
Universal Apps are, in short, apps that run on any device powered by Windows 10. You can install the same app on your Windows 10 desktop, tablet or smartphone – or even on your Xbox console, for that matter. The app will know which device it runs on, and adapt its interface and function accordingly.
Who would need such a function, you might ask? Well, think of how successful Bluestacks, the desktop Android emulator, is. Its success shows that people want to run their mobile apps on their desktop computers – and Universal Apps offer them just that. And vice versa, of course. But not just that – they allow users to stay consistent across platforms, easily synchronize their work and entertainment across devices, and use a familiar interface whichever platform they might choose.
Continuum is another important step forward for smartphones, showing that their insane processing power can be used for more than just playing games. With Continuum, Windows 10 powered smartphones can be turned into a fully fledged PC by connecting a display and a keyboard to them. This opens up new possibilities for businessmen away from their office – they could work in a hotel room or at home on their familiar device, without the need to carry a laptop around. This is the selling point for at least a handful of new smartphones released by smaller companies, as well as major manufacturers like HP.