Just about the only real innovation happening in phones right now surrounds smart digital assistants – the likes of Google Now, Siri and Cortana – who gather up as much information about us as they can and then try and predict what it is we need next.
And amidst all the talk of new cameras and extra storage, it’s likely that the artificial intelligence powering our mobile phones is going to make the biggest impact on our lives in the years ahead. Here’s what we can imagine coming in the not-too-distant future…
We’re already seeing basic versions of this on some phones, where your most-used apps appear at the top of the screen, but imagine that idea made much more intelligent: a phone that knows you so well, it launches Instagram before you’re able to tap the icon.
In the future there’s no reason why Google Now couldn’t use what it knows about you, how you use your phone, and past behaviour to work out when you’re going to call home, or launch a maps app, or even take a photo (if you’re near a famous landmark, say).
There would be no need for an app drawer and no need to meticulously arrange your home screens, because every time you unlocked your phone, the app you were thinking about (plus some useful context-aware information) would be displayed on the display.
Again, this is something we’re starting to see already – the existing versions of Apple Maps and Google Maps can predict whereabouts you want to head next (based on past habits and recent searches), but it’s just a taste of how clever they might get in the years ahead.
What if Google knows your brother is in London and knows you’re arranged to meet him tonight? Your route could be ready and waiting, together with optional stop-offs for those snacks you like. This isn’t all that difficult to do if Google has all the information it needs.
A system truly reliant on artificial intelligence would make decisions for you, like which routes you prefer (scenic or direct), your attitude towards sitting in traffic (and whether to reroute around roadworks), or maybe the type of public transport you prefer to use.