In my last post I discussed my recent acquisition of a new iPhone 4. It only takes a short while to realise the revolutionary implications of these devices for the future of social media and Web 2.
Checking tweets or Facebook and LinkedIn updates is a no-brainer. The linear nature of most social media interfaces also means that there is comparatively little difference in the user’s experience between a smartphone and a PC, despite the latter’s vastly larger screen real estate – and of course you can add comments and updates anytime, anywhere.
The same, linear, slightly retro feel applies to switching from app to app and to opening multiple files within the same application – just like the early versions of Windows, or the first time you fired up Internet Explorer (obviously the experience is a little different on tablets such as the iPad because of their larger screens).
On the other hand, the ability of smartphones to integrate different applications with social media is probably their strongest feature next to their portability and for ease of use beats computers hands-down. The most obvious example is the act of taking a photo to email or to post to a social media website, both of which are accomplished in a few seconds and just two or three steps on most smartphones.
This is a major advantage in terms of convenience and time saving, compared to using a digital camera, uploading the picture to a computer and then sending it. The quality might not be as good and you may not have the range of tools available on a PC to manipulate the image, but for most day-to-day purposes, who cares?
This mashing of applications on the iPhone can be used in less obvious ways. Recently I had to scan a receipt to email as part of an expenses claim. Again, it was far easier and quicker to use one of the many iPhone scanning apps rather than crank up a high-quality but slow scanner and turn on the computer.
OK, the iPhone’s scan image wasn’t as great as the scanner could have done, but I didn’t need OCR quality and it was certainly good enough for my purposes. The same triumph of convenience over quality applies to a host of other things involving applications and social media which are easy to accomplish on the iPhone, from emailing voice recordings to posting movies to YouTube, or using the Dragon Dictation app to compose your next Facebook post.
As a result, I think we are at the beginning of the next wave of innovation in social media and the web generally – and as smartphones become ubiquitous and are increasingly the weapon of choice for going online, the potential for all sorts of combinations involving apps and social media seems almost limitless.