As a developer, I’m in front of a large screen many hours per day. So I wonder, do I really need a smartphone? The answer for me is (surprisingly?) yes, but at first look it’s not a big yes because the time I’m not at my computer and still need to execute computing tasks is very short and such occasions are rare.
Indeed, sometimes it does happen to need computing power and an Internet connection when I’m not at the computer, in order to accomplish important tasks such as to:
- check my e-mail or synchronized calendar when I’m away (although I try to check mail on the phone only when I expect something);
- check someone’s exact address once I arrived at their block;
- check the map when I’m pretty much lost in a (new) place;
- remove something that I just bought from the shopping list;
- read something on Kindle app and check news/Facebook or play a game while I wait to enter at the doctor;
- find the names of the artist and song playing at the radio in my car or at a mall using Shazam;
- call a cab when I’m away without my car or use Waze to find traffic issues when I’m driving, especially upon longer trips;
- remove the need of holding the physical loyalty cards for miscellaneous shops and use a specialized app instead.
And the yes increases a little more because a smartphone includes something that might be even more important than the computing services themselves: a camera. Taking good photos without a separate camera and storing them into the cloud automatically are things that can become very important allowing me to:
- record notes written on a whiteboard during a meeting;
- “scan” documents;
- capture the schedule of a business’ working hours (when it’s not standard);
- and more.
Without the mobile technology I could hardly do any of the items above (without having to carry my notebook with some mobile Internet access device and a separate camera with me everywhere; although myself I would be crazy enough to do it if mobiles weren’t invented; in fact, there was a time when smartphones weren’t invented and you could often see me with the notebook bag almost everywhere, having Internet access available through a USB cable from my CDMA-based non-smart Zapp phone, and with a separate camera hanging over my shoulder, also USB-connectible to the PC.)
In conclusion, as a developer I do need a smartphone, but the yes is not that big at first. Meaning that the phone surely doesn’t have to be an iPhone, and it doesn’t need to run Android either. It can be a Windows Phone (regardless of its minor 0.3% of the global market share): the phone just needs the ability to connect to the Internet, run basic contemporary apps, and have a good camera.
However, a factor that should be taken into consideration for the future is that for new projects most mobile app developers (at least that want to keep output native) will focus more/only to Android and iOS. That means that eventually apps that could turn out to be very important for me as a developer (such as to avoid being left behind competition by not using them), may be not available on Windows, or – worse – not even on the plain Web. Consumer-oriented non-Windows/Web apps already exist, but nothing critical… yet! I’m gonna watch mobile evolution very carefully in the short term, and I will probably need to select between Androids and iPhone eventually. Knowing me, and after testing both, a little, it’s probably going to be an iPhone!