The Adaptive Mobile OS: Making Smartphones Smart

Sorry Samsung but the next big thing in smartphones will be the OS not the hardware.

Our smartphones today aren’t very smart. They only go by this name because they do more than the previous generation of dumb phones. For our smartphones to be truly smart they need to know us better, learn our behavior, and make intelligent decision in real-time.

When I get up in the morning and look at my iPhone, it looks exactly the same as it did when I went to bed or any other time of day for that matter. The archaic home screen stares back at me asking…

Instead, my phone should already know what I want:

When I wake up, my iPhone should be ready to show me the weather, my recent email and social connections, and news that interest me.

As I get ready for work my phone should be checking the traffic and alert me if I need to leave early to make it to my meeting on time.

Once in my car, Spotify should automatically open and start playing my morning playlist. The Spotify UI should transform to “car friendly” mode. Waze should also open, plotting my route to the office.

Once at the office, calendar and email should be easily accessible as well as other work related apps.

When my wife an I leave the office for the day, our phones should coordinate to find out who is going to get home first so our Nest app knows when to turn the heat up to make it comfortable when we arrive.

I expect Google and Apple to make this leap within the next couple of years and make these scenarios a reality. Apple’s home screens of apps have become very dated and Google’s widgets are useful but not the leap we need.

This jump will happen for several reasons:

  • Both companies are building devices that continue to be more personal — wearables are an extension of this. Our devices can’t become deeply personal without learning our behaviors and adapting to them. The phone, as the hub for these devices is the natural location for this to take place.
  • The more these companies know about us the better they can target us with iBeacons and ads.
  • We’ll have a growing database of health data which will allow our devices to make recommendations beyond just telling us we need to get out of our chair. Expect all kinds of health related recommendations like telling us when to go to sleep so we get enough rest for that important morning presentation.
  • Most importantly it creates ecosystem lock-in. When you build a product that is this personal it becomes very difficult to switch. If my iPhone knows me well and can adjust to my day and do it accurately then Android would have to be exceptionally better for me to put in the time to switch and vice versa.

The technology to accomplish this is available today but our operating systems are not sophisticated enough yet. Some of this can be done at the app level but it doesn’t provide a cohesive experience. We are stuck in limbo until this behavior is built into the OS. Doing it at this level is the only way to gather the necessary information in a single source, allowing personalization to extend out to the app ecosystem. This will finally give us the next big thing — smartphones with a brain.

Founder of Duckwyn, a travel passport app for families to track which countries, U.S. states, major cities, and destinations they’ve visited. Share your travel.

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