Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Future Belongs To The Creators

A lot of people are thinking about the future this time of year. I’ve got a few ideas myself. This is the year I’ve done a lot with apps on phones and tablets. I’ve been playing with both an iPad mini and a Windows 8 tablet and of course have had my Windows Phone for almost two years now. These activities have given me some insights into what the future of mobile devices might be.

Clearly phones and small tablets are going to be huge – even bigger than  they are now. I’m not convinced that the time of the PC is dead though. It took a long time for mainframes to die and even now there are still some around. The Cloud is the natural successor to the mainframe it is what makes mobile devices worth carrying. That is only going to be more true as time goes on.

I’m not impressed with most apps I see these days. Oh the games are great and the social aspect of them facilitated by the Cloud is pretty cool. The practical apps are still pretty limited. I think that will change but it seems to be taking a while. For the most part portable apps are about viewing date/information/content. Someone has to do some work on making input (communicating with the app) easier. Keyboards, software or otherwise, are limited especially for people like me with large fat fingers. Voice is getting there (think Seri) and may be part of the answer. Voice recognition has to get better. I listened tonight as Seri struggled to understand my son talk to it last night.

PCs are still going to have a place for serious applications that require people to interact with the computer in ways that require adding information. They may not stay as ubiquitous as they are today but they are not going away. People still need them to create.

But either way – mobile or PC – the real value is going to be added by people who can create apps. There simple problems have been solved but there are a great many solutions waiting to be thought of and created. These apps are going to be created by imaginative people who can write code.

It has been said that the best way to predict the future is to create it. Are we preparing students to create the future? We’d better be teaching them to code if we want them to create the future.


Garth said...

As a production tool the tower PC is still on the top of the pile. Nothing beats 23 inch dual monitors with a real keyboard and a mouse for actually doing work. It can write software for Android, iOS and Windows. As a consumer tool I think the 7 inch tablet will be the direction of the future. My goal as a programming teacher has evolved from teaching programming in Visual Basic for PCs to learning and teaching programming tools for tablet devices. Considering the number of OSs in the 7 inch market this has become rather entertaining. There is always something new but luckily the fundamentals stay the same. It would seem that the future of programming lies in apps.

Charley Williams said...

>>> "I listened tonight as Seri struggled to understand my son talk to it last night."

Agreed. As I write this, Kinect is struggling to understand my son talking to it!

To your larger point, I don't think there's ever been a more exciting time to get into software development. Apps for phones and tablets will obviously be huge markets. But desktop applications aren't going away anytime soon. And compute-intensive programs are more relevant today as computing power grows and we attack problems that have never before been within our reach. And high-powered gaming needs high-powered brainpower to keep pushing the boundaries of graphics and gaming technology. The diversity of the field is so exciting!

...all of which makes it so much more disappointing when you see how schools aren't recognizing these opportunities, and as a result so many of our brightest kids don't understand computer science and avoid the field altogether.

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