Imagine yourself at your desk scrolling through the photos taken last week at the Apple WWDC on your laptop, and you turn to your phone to browse through your gallery. It seems that you are always bringing two devices, or more, with you, to do the exact same task on either one of them. So, what is the problem here?
Image credit: Android Central
For years, we have been bombarded with numerous operating systems by different tech giants like Google for Android and Chrome OS, Apple for iOS and MacOS, Microsoft for Windows, just to name a few. What more if some companies like Huawei or Samsung are on the verge of building a whole new OS just to add to the mess we are seeing. Speaking of which, it is rather funny to see multiple operating systems without a single unified version for multiple devices in 2018. Even so, it has been years when companies like Microsoft first claimed that such efforts were made to put this revamp into a success, but to no avail later on. However, I believe the works of a truly unified operating system is in the making.
Struggling with multiple OS systems
Before we witness the glorious result in the near future, it is hard to think what a unified operating system looks like. Putting it out, we have been so accustomed to the way we switch between iOS and MacOS or Android and Windows, considering almost everyone has a phone with a completely different operating system to the one on our computer. Many a times we tend to struggle when we cannot find the exact same application on Windows to do the exact same task on our Android phones, for example, taking a photo on your phone and finding trouble editing it on your computer without any transfer of data. Of course, this is the least of the troubles I can show you where you might probably argue that there are indeed applications on the web for the ones you use on your phone. However, the simple action of “picking up where you left off” is not truly carried out here.
Image credit: The Verge
The user interface between a smartphone and a PC
Diving deep into this, we might find out the trouble behind this whole revamp in the making: CPU architecture. To start off, most of the PCs we own are running on Intel chips and they are specifically targeted to be utilized to their maximum capacity for tasks like photo & video editing, programming & coding, and some power hungry applications. On the other hand, our phones run on smaller ARM chips that are not sophisticated enough to complete certain high-power tasks and hence, we have two completely different group of developers focusing on two different platforms. On top of that, the user interface of a PC is of a point-and-click interface while it is a touch screen interface on our phones, and this is one of the major reason why we haven’t seen a platform that allows the creation of universal apps that work across all our devices.
Image credit: Digital Trends
These apps make working between your PC and smartphone hassle-free
To me, I find it really fatiguing trying to switch to my PC just because there isn’t anything for me on my smartphone that allows me to do the things I want or vice versa. Oftentimes, I find myself closing the app on my Android phone to turn to my laptop to complete off the tasks I intended to do. Also, I would say it is a bit of troublesome when I need to continue the video on my laptop instead of my phone, I would have to go searching for that video all over again, considering the app is still open in the background on my phone. I don’t expect I can edit videos on my phone as it will be really painful to do so on a tiny screen, but the moment I leave my phone, I wish I can pick up where I left off so that I don’t have to go searching for an extension to use the same app.
Fortunately, as many problems as we face with multiple operating systems, there are applications you can add to your PC to make your interaction with both the devices work rather seamlessly. For example, the WhatsApp app which I use a lot on my phone ( and most of you, I believe ), has a web based application which can be downloaded to your PC so that in case you are working on your PC and you are lazy enough to pick your phone up, you can turn to your PC to continue the chat.
Also, for students, taking notes is a whole big deal when it comes to reading notes off your phone, and hence, there is a few useful notes-taking apps that work well on both PC and smartphones. Microsoft’s OneNote and Google Keep sync all the notes on both devices instantly, giving the satisfaction of “picking up where you left off”. Not to mention that Microsoft lets you have the “Continue on PC” option if you wish to switch viewing websites on your phone to your PC. On top of that, the most used default browser, Google Chrome, lets you use the app without the hassle of importing data and bookmarks from either devices as all we need to do is to sync the Chrome browser on both our devices and you are good to go. Aside from browsing, one of my favorites is that you can have your calendars all synced up at one place and get access to them across any devices with the same account. With this, you don’t have to turn to your Android phone for your Google calendar while your PC for your Outlook calendar, it is everything within the same app on Windows, making the most out of your hectic lifestyle. Developers and manufacturers have gone a long way to try and make our lives simpler by making apps work well across all devices.
Image credit: Android Central
Working across your PC and smartphone doesn’t really sound troublesome, and it shouldn’t
On the contrary, we will have to bear in mind that the PC version of the apps does include a whole lot more features and functions than those of the mobile version as they are more simplified and accustomed to the user interface of touchscreen. Although this isn’t the perfect solution to the current complications as they do not extend to their full range of capabilities, I feel that until a whole new singular operating system steps into our life, these are the steps worth taking to make “working between multiple devices” a lot simpler. On the other hand, while a whole new singular operating system might sound as fancy as it is, it could also pose certain questions to developers. For instance, are we going to change how we interact with our phones or PCs? Will the interface be the same as before? We will only be able to find out when a true solution comes up.