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Author's profile photo ALAN GULINO

Will 2014 be the Year of Mobile Only?

Will 2014 be the year of “Mobile Only”?

Will we be able to drop useless and heavy laptops? Will we be able to fully function using only our smart phones and tablet for work and personal purposes? What does it really take to achieve this level of freedom? Docking stations for screens and keyboards? Or software packages for editing slide based presentations and spreadsheets?

/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/mobilee_361003.jpgI work for SAP. They support me with all kinds of mobile applications: one for recording travel expenses, one for recording my time-sheet, mobile CRM and even workspaces for collaborative team work, document sharing and video conferencing. So why am I not a Mobile Only pioneer? Maybe it is just a shift of attitude that’s required? A more innovative and more courageous frame of mind?

Why do companies not want to save money by imposing a Mobile Only policy? Why are companies supporting three computing devices for each employee, if one will do the job?

I would like to support any initiative of living out a Mobile Only approach by collecting and sharing useful experiences, daily challenges and related work. I would like to co-create and share knowledge and useful links to software and hardware accessories that support our journey towards an inevitable future Mobile Only!  

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      Author's profile photo Tim Clark
      Tim Clark

      Great question, Alan. I've been wondering the same thing for a long time. As a content creator/strategist, mobile makes my work more difficult. It's really hard to manipulate and edit text on a mobile phone or tablet. Connecting a keyboard to it seems counterproductive because at that point, you're basically back to a laptop again.

      So for me, if someone can figure out a great way to type on mobile devices, I'm "all in"!

      Author's profile photo ALAN GULINO
      Blog Post Author

      Here is yet an other thought: will our children look back at us wondering why we would spend so much energy typing letters in a bits and bytes computing device? Yes they will!

      Actually, voice recognition software, also called speech recognition software, has made great strides in the last few years, meaning you’ll no longer need to wait until the warp drive is invented. The technology is ready now. Voice recognition software has the capability of streamlining your work flow, allowing you to work as fast as you can speak instead of as fast as you can type and move the mouse. And even though the keyboard and the mouse have been around long enough for everyone to become proficient at using them, there are still some advantages to using software operated by your voice instead.

      The biggest advantage is the ability to do hands-free computing. If your job requires you to jump back and forth from your computer to other tasks, this type of software can allow you to do both things at once. It is also a huge benefit to those with limited mobility or some other kind of disability that makes it difficult to use a keyboard and mouse.

      But the biggest advantage is speed. While there is a learning curve while you master the commands, once you are familiar with the program you can actually navigate your computer and dictate documents faster than you could with a keyboard and mouse. If you are in the market for voice or speech recognition software, read articles on voice recognition software and pursue reviews.

      Resource: Voice Recognition Software Review 2014 - TopTenREVIEWS

      Author's profile photo Tim Clark
      Tim Clark

      Good info, thanks.

      Author's profile photo Steve Rumsby
      Steve Rumsby

      Good question. I have a few for you.

      1. What do you mean by mobile? Not everyone means the same thing when they use that word.
      2. Depending on your answer to 1, I'd have to ask why you think mobile is good and "not mobile" is bad. It isn't clear to me that's necessarily true.
      3. You seem to think having only one device is a good thing. Why? I'm not sure about that either. Different devices are good at different things. I could make phone calls from my laptop, but I don't. I could edit a slide presentation on my phone but I don't.

      I suspect most people mean "touch interface" when they say "mobile" - i.e. no physical keyboard. But as Tim Clark says, that's no good for content creators. I can do many things just fine without a keyboard, but not everything. A tablet with separate keyboard and mouse for occasional use works quite well I find, and for most of what I do for my job I could live with that set up. It would need to be a proper Windows (not Windows RT) tablet, though. At least until somebody does an Android port of SAPgui 😉 .

      For personal use, I have a different problem. Most "mobile" devices don't have anywhere near enough storage for me, at least not affordably. I need to keep my photo collection and music library somewhere. Cloud-only (or cloud mostly) isn't an option. I need a device with a hard drive. Yes, I could plug a USB hard drive into a Windows tablet, but that plus the bluetooth keyboard and mouse gets very messy. A laptop is just neater. I tend to travel without a laptop, when not on business, but I can't manage without one at home.

      In summary, we all do different things, and for most of us at least I don't think there is one ideal device, mobile or not. Not yet at least.


      Author's profile photo ALAN GULINO
      Blog Post Author

      Very interesting considerations Steve, indeed!

      By mobile I generally mean unwired. I hope that anyone can agree that even a hair dryer at a hair dresser salon will result more handy when not corded to the wall.

      Mobile Only is a vision of a computing device with enough power autonomy to support you while on the move. A computing device that computes your data, that gives you the ability to reach and save information and supports you with application on device and/or on cloud. A device that plays and records video and audio aware of location and orientation that enhance your productivity connecting you to multiple channels.

      I understand your point: 1 size doesn't fit all but why do we need to travel around with an arsenal of devices instead of one computing unit and it's job relevant peripherals.

      If all you needed to work with was stored in and accessible from your private cloud, would you than need a mobile computer? Yes I believe you would - at least for many years ahead because of the need of operating while off-line..well that minimalistic unit is my Mobile Only vision.

      Why one? Probably the same question addressed to the inventor of the adjustable wrench 😉

      Author's profile photo Steve Rumsby
      Steve Rumsby

      But unwired includes laptops, and most people don't consider those "mobile". Even the ones with touch screens. I actually think "mobile" isn't a helpful description of a category of devices. There are plenty of applications for mobile-like apps on devices that are wired. I think "touch UI" is what most people mean when they say "mobile" - optimised for use without a keyboard.

      Why this is important is that the style of UI is only one part of what makes a device suitable for a particular application. A nice touch UI by itself means nothing. And there are applications for which a touch UI is a bad thing. I'm an occasional ABAP programmer - don't try and make me use SE80 without a keyboard and mouse! And what use is a nice portable tablet to you if you get to a customer site and can't connect it to their projector to show your powerpoint presentation?

      And that brings me to another point. The devices themselves aren't the only problem. The infrastructure and environment in which they operate doesn't help. The  projector problem would go away if there was a single standard way of connecting device and display wirelessly. The 21st century equivalent of the VGA connector. There isn't yet, so we need cables, adaptors, maybe an Apple TV, or just take the easy route and use a laptop...

      I love playing with gadgets, and in particular trying to figure out how they can be used to make people's lives easier. Solving problems exactly like this. And discussions like this are both fun and important. But I think we're a long way from an answer. Voice may indeed be part of it, but it doesn't work very well (yet) in a busy office or airport, or on a plane. The best device we have today for large scale text input is still the keyboard.


      Author's profile photo Andy Silvey
      Andy Silvey

      Hi Alan,

      good question.

      I put similar thoughts here last spring.

      And here a couple of weeks ago, more relating to SAP's PC Web based applications.

      Best regards,