Kevin — July 31, 2006, 3:51 pm

Convergence: We still need a place to converge to

People keep going on about “convergence”. Television is going to be the web is going to be your TIVO is going to be your iPod and your phone and blah blah blah. I’ve always said that “convergence” would be a bullshit buzzword that amounted to nothing until there was a place where all your media COULD ACTUALLY COVERGE. Where is “the device”? The one thing that combines telephone, TV, DVR, iPod, email, digital camera, IM’ing, games… into one package? It’s nowhere. So STFU with the “webby buzzwords” already. Zzz. Wake me up when the revolution begins.

Well, word is leaking out… is “the device” about to arrive?

Rumors are that Apple is going to release an iPhone at the World Wide Developers Conference this month (August). I mean, we all saw the “spec ad” created by a couple design guys as a lark that showed off the mythical “iTalk” phone which only exists in the mythical magic land of Maya (and come on, it’s pretty, but show me a single Apple product that doesn’t have beveled edges).

apple_phone.jpg

This magic unicorn of a phone seems to have it all in one; phone, wide screen TV, camera, calendar, email. Too bad it’s just a fluffy CG demo.

Well, Gizmodo just ran a story that speculates about the incoming phone. Going one step further, Apple Insider had a story talking about how some ambitious nerd undid the code of the latest iTunes update and discovered that it contained some sub-routines with some exciting names: names like “kPhoneSignalStrength” and “clPhoneCallHistoryModel” or “clPhoneCallModel”. iTunes making reference to phone models? Wow. That’s WAY interesting.

Check out this page, which shows some designs currently submitted to the patent office from Apple. Now, they submit a shitload of stuff, most of which never sees the light of day, but this one looks interesting. People seem to think that the page talks about different models, but I’ll go one futher – I think the models shown – ALL OF THEM – are the same phone. THAT is what apple is announcing – a device that can change it’s interface to be the thing you need. Need a phone? A keypad appears. Want to play a game? The screen turns into a touch sensitive control pad. Want t to watch a video Podcast? Presto, the entire face of the device turns into a viewing area.

Wha? Here, think back a few months ago to this link that I posted on the Sponge, which was, at the time, rumored to be some wild new technology Apple had just licensed. See? It’s the same screen; the OS just adapts to what the user needs. Want to look at photos? Grab them and move them around. Want a map? The screen becomes touch sensitive, zoom in to whatever you want. Get it? It’s not a phone that plays music, or a MP3 player with a camera, or a gameboy that has a calendar. It’s fucking BLANK SLATE that BECOMES the device YOU NEED at the time – THAT is the future. Forget trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole. You make the Peg CHANGE SHAPE so that it fits. OF COURSE!

This is it – the future of the handheld device. A tool that CHANGES ITS INTERFACE to get the job done. It’s funny, because I’m working on a sci-fi show that has a similar gadget that I made up; a multi-driver that can change shape to become whatever tool you need at the time, be it a screwdriver, a laser cutter, or a molecular bonder. Not one tool that does fifteen different things, like a swiss army knife – all you get with that is a load of shitty tools glued together. No, you want a tool that has the power to MORPH into what you need, for a specific application. And here I thought I was all clever. Apple beat me to it. Now everybody is going to think I’m some lame copycat!

If I’m right, if the bits of the puzzle fit together, this could be it. The first of the true “convergence” devices. Fingers crossed!

Yeah, I’m excited. Monday, August 7th is Steve’s keynote, where he’ll be introducing Leopard, the next major OSX revision. Let’s hope there’s “one more thing” at the end of this presentation. Fingers crossed, Steve Jobs & Apple are going to be the guys who transform “convergence” from bullshit buzzword to fuctional reality.

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  1. Comment by Mike O. @ August 3, 2006, 10:45 pm

    Neato. But palm pilots and pocket PCs allready have the ability to update thier on screen interface depending on what you’re doing.

    Have you seen this thing on engadget?
    http://www.engadget.com/2006/08/02/ichat-mobile-is-it-the-iphone-part-forty-bajillion/

    It may be the sexiest thing I’ve ever wanted to put into my pocket.

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