Steven Levy on the convergence of PC’s and Phones

Buried in a piece on Apple and Microsoft yin-yanging each other, Steven Levy poses this:

Steven Levy, The Bizarre Role Reversal of Apple and Microsoft

Apple is continuing a near-decade-long process of making its PC operating system act like a phone. Apple’s front-loads its innovations into its mobile operating system, which demands a more frequent flow of new ideas. Demos of the Touch Bar are full of shortcuts first introduced on iOS, many of them shortcuts to compensate for the limitations of a small screen and soft keyboard. One of Apple’s best uses of AI is the often dead-on suggestions for a one-touch summoning of the most logical “next word.” I find it fascinating that this feature, created because of the limitations of a tiny touch keyboard, now appears as an addition to a full-size physical keyboard.

And is this the first step toward replacing the keyboard with a second screen? One that is principally oriented toward displaying and acting as a keyboard?

Imagine a not too-distant day when my ‘laptop’ is actually two devices that can connect physically and digitally into what acts as a ‘laptop’ is supposed to: one, the topmost, acts as a display, and the second acts as a keyboard. However, the two could be detached, and each could be used as tablets, and each tablet could have features more like a phone: they could make calls, act as a wifi hotspot, and so on. Also, if I have additional devices — let’s call them panels, to avoid the terms tablet, screen, keyboard, laptop, and so on, all of which have existing limited meanings — those panels could cooperate wirelessly, as well, acting as additional displays, drawing tablets, or almost any other use.

The Touch Bar may be the camel’s nose under the tent, and the result will be the dissolving of the hard distinction between the various devices we use. They may all be ‘panels’ soon.

Written by

Founder, Work Futures. Editor, GigaOm. My obsession is the ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store