Smartphones – back to the linear – but mashed – future of social media

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.

Facebook iPhone interface

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.


Dragon Dictate iPhone app interface (recently released in an Australian accent version)

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.

This entry was posted in Smartphones, Social Media, Web 2.0 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Smartphones – back to the linear – but mashed – future of social media

  1. Alex,
    I can only agree! While most of these things come in with an entirely agreeable clang of acceptability, we should also realise that a side efeect of all this is the erosion of our privacy.
    For some this may not be an issue, but for others, they may not realise that by using various apps, they are agreeing to their personal information being gathered by an ever increasing range of organisations. And this information may be from a compendium of several sources.
    This leads to in-depth profiling of people; their preferences, buying patterns, retail loyalties, peccadilloes… The implications in the longer term are quite interesting, from the obvious targetting of advertising to the profile-matching activities of law enforcement agencies, among potentially many others.
    I don’t mean to scare-monger, but it is worth understanding these implications.
    They say that if you have nothing to hide then you’re safe, but how do you know what you should hide? The ground keeps moving. 10 years ago you could go to a kids football match and take photos of the field of play. If you do that now you are an instant suspect!
    Anyway, thanks for raising this interesting issue.


    • Alex says:

      Peter, you’re right to draw attention to the dark side of social media – the erosion of privacy as we share more and more information.

      I posted about this a little while ago. However the mashing apps and social media on smartphone platforms takes these riaks to a new level, as this article points out. It notes that people are more trusting of apps then they are of web pages (it’s interesting incidentally that people complain about the “locked down” nature of Apple’s app store, but it does seem to offer at least some basic level of scrutiny of apps that is missing in the Android app world).

      Because of their convenience there is little anyone can do to stop the integration of smartphones, apps and social media – especially when you add tablets and other mobile platforms connected via the mobile phone network or the increasing proliferation of free wi-fi access points. But you’re correct to point out the dangers. If nothing else, people should have a good look at the source of their apps and turn them off when they aren’t using them.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s