THIS ISSUE: 12 - Aug - 2019




State of "Innovation" [PART 2]

Dare I say the words that will drive fear into hipsters?

Yes. I dare: Windows Mobile.

Just one of the instances where it seems Microsoft were ahead of the game (so much so, that it hurt them – surprisingly, not a unique experience on the Redmond front).

A single device that combines a phone, the internet, emails and messaging all into one?
Yeah, Windows Mobile did that.

Oh, but can you extend the functionality by installing these things called apps?
Yes. Also, counter point: remember how the first iPhone didn't do apps at all?

Oh well surely, this is just a case of dynamic convergence and Windows Mobile *must* have been developed roughly the same time as iOS? They couldn't possibly be more than a few months apart.
Nope. Years. In fact, the first versions of Windows Mobile were the direct descendants of the first versions of Windows that ran on portable devices (Windows CE) and that can be followed back a surprisingly long time. Windows Mobile was available on devices starting in 2000, a full seven years before the iPhone was released. Windows CE (as well as the later Pocket PC variants) began life on pocket organizers and industrial devices in 1996 and even then it did more than the first release of the iPhone (although, in the case of CE, that is a slight stretch of the imagination, it would do apps, but it was mostly used for large firms to build their own specific systems around).

I recall being asked if my trusty HTC Touch Diamond was an iPhone whenever I answered a call out in the world. I'd constantly have to say something like "no, it's better" and then receive a challenge to justify my response as if I had somehow offended the asker (who clearly didn't have an iPhone themselves, otherwise they wouldn't have asked). It wasn't even my first device that could be considered a 'smartphone' by then, I'd had a few Pocket PC's and Windows Mobile devices already, but because they'd just heard about the iPhone in the news, that was the one I should have instead. It always reminded me of a high-school kid that suffered the mis-fortune of being on the same train as a grumpy old sod such as myself (I say, even though I was barely 20 at the time).
He was boasting to his friends that his parents had just bought him the new iPhone (a clear example of the old adage "more money than sense", especially back then). One of the marvellous new features was that he could change the interface to display in French.

"Can your phone do French?" he asked one of his friends (who I'm sure was just thankful to have a phone to begin with – this was a time when social butterflies would routinely have two cheap Nokia bricks to make send cheap txt's to their friends of either Telecom or Vodafone camps).

"Can you speak or read French?" I piped up from a few seats over – much to the amusement of his friends. Much mocking of the poor kid occurred for the rest of that train trip, as I sat in silence, not knowing my long career of knocking an Apple cultist down a peg was just beginning.

[This of course is only here for comedic effect, I routinely use Mac's for my day-to-day work. My day is fairly evenly split between Windows, Linux and Mac OS (with others thrown in less often) and I have no strong feelings one way or another about the people that use either PC or Mac (or even Android v iPhone nutters) – as long as you aren't a dick about it.]

Oh, but the [***] is an entirely new concept, you can't deny that!
I can - and will.

Let's do this one quickfire...

iPad and Siri: Star Trek, while fictional, did both first and any technological advances are almost certainly based on real-word emerging technology – asking the computer a question and getting a response was never a new concept by the time Siri rolled around, speech recognition software has been around since forever. The iPad style form factor of the portable computers in Next Generation was also the direct influence for the eventual product.

Oh and once again, Microsoft had already beaten them to the market (by years) with the Tablet PC format (although not quite the non-descript slab of glass tablets eventually became to be known as, this is another case of iteration over innovation). It appears Microsoft has come full-circle on the tablet concept after they never really took off. The Surface series is a mighty fine extension of something that I was quite fond of to begin with - those futuristic tablet/laptop computers on Stargate that seemed to be able to do everything a normal computer could.

I had one and used it daily (still have it nearby in fact). The reason it could do everything was quite simple: it was a full-blown computer, with a proper, well supported OS that developers didn't have to do anything special to program for. Stargate had the ability to showcase real world technology alongside the standard science fiction fare and highlight exactly what was possible with standard consumer gear at the time and my little swivel screen HP laptop was just one such example.

Apple Watch:
First off, who wears watches anymore?
If you do still wear a watch (I do) who wants a watch that they must charge every day? Seems like regression to me. Oh, and again, Microsoft already dabbled with experimental smart watches, the earliest of which date back to the mid 90's.

3D Touch: It's pronounced Pressure Sensitivity and has been used in various forms since the age of Commodore computers, probably before (it's not new because you say it is, or because you call it some esoteric term no-one else uses).

Live Translate: Seriously, I thought Microsoft had ripped this off from somewhere else, but I remember an app for my Windows Phone (I think around the time they'd rebranded "Phone" alongside 7) that translated text that you held your camera up to. I remember a relatively recent proclamation from Google that this was something they'd made available on Android, and I can't seem to find any information on earlier instances before the Microsoft one (other than specific start-ups that build a single app – they don't count since one of the big three will buy them out if there's anything to be had from it).

iPod: MP3 players were around before and high-end audiophile versions with feature parity also existed. Personally, at the time I opted for a Sony Discman that was capable of playing CD's and MP3's stored on disc (around 700mb per disc). Sure, the iPod had more out-of-the-box storage, but you couldn't grab another disc of music out of your backpack.

Credit Card: It's metal and can't be used anywhere! (wait wut?)

Now say it with me this time: iteration, not innovation.


Quaid J. Leckey