The Future of the Computer in our Pocket

When I was 16 (17 years ago now) I got my first cell phone.  I still had a beeper which was my primary form of communication and my cell phone was for emergencies only.  It had about an hour batter life and that included just being turned on (not talking the phone).  Then in college I got a color screen flip phone with a camera and color touch screen PDA.  I was high tech and even saved up enough money to buy a 1 GB flash card to store files/photos on my Palm Pilot.  I remember thinking how cool it would be if these devices could become one.  Then they did and we now have smart phones or what I better describe as computers in our pocket.  I actually think it's kind of funny that we call them phones as voice to voice communication is in no way the primary use of the device. I started with a Blackjack (before the first iPhone came out) and then quickly jumped to the iPhone as soon as I was able.  The device blew me away at the time and continues to today.  When they came out it was cool that we could take pictures, browse the internet, and talk on the phone from the same device.  Little did we know all that they would become and little do we still know all that has still yet to be developed.

My guess is that the devices themselves will not change dramatically, but we will begin to see more secondary devices that connect to them become more prevalent   I think the primary improvement that we will continue to see in the devices themselves is in battery life as the need for the phone to function all of the time will only increase.

I do envision seeing more secondary devices such as watches, glasses, headphones, cameras, etc. that seamlessly connect with the device on the go.  I will discuss this further in another post to come.

Now, it's in the apps that I get most excited.  When you look at the last 5 years the devices themselves really haven't changed significantly, it is the development of apps that continues to enhance the device and will continue to.  Here's a quick list of some of what I do on my iPhone in any given week:

  • Check and reply to Email
  • Phone calls and SMS texting
  • Calendar/Scheduling
  • Pictures & Video -  taking and sharing
  • Bible
  • Social Networking - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +
  • Banking - checking balances, depositing checks, transferring money
  • Web Browsing
  • Travel - booking and monitoring travel arrangements
  • News - reading news apps and blog feeds
  • Entertainment - music, games and videos
  • Maps/GPS
  • Alarm Clock
  • Shopping/Couponing
  • Home Management - controlling home AC and DVR
I suppose this list could go on and on.  It's hard to imagine life without my iPhone now as I use it constantly throughout every day. I can't imagine that becoming less, but honestly only more.  Here are some of the things that I see coming to mobile apps:
  • Wallet Replacement - I think we will use our apps not just for coupons (Groupons), but also forms of payment, insurance and identification information, event tickets and passes, etc.
  • Remote Control - I think apps will be created to control our cars (not just remote start), security systems, home appliances, and much more.
  • Seamless Integration - I think we will begin to see seamless integration between various apps and devices such as the Facebook App and Amazon App working together and the phone and computer integration being seamless without our having to even think about it.
  • Experiential development - I expect to see physical environments creating interactive experiences with the device and the user.  For instance a grocery store taking your shopping list and giving you the best path through the store or a sporting event giving you personalized directions from the parking lot to your seats and recommended refreshment options throughout the game.  
To be honest these are so hard to predict as so much has already been created, but every year even more is developed that we could have never imagined in the past.  This is scary for some, but exciting for most.
So what does this mean for the church?  Well, from my perspective it means we have a great opportunity.  The Bible App is about to reach 100 million downloads in just 5 years of existence!  Subsplash has created an affordable church app that hundreds of churches use to connect with millions of people from all over the world.  The reality is though, the church is years behind where it should be with mobile technology.  Consider some of these needs and how an app might help:
  • Kids checkin
  • First Time Guest experience
  • Bulletin costs
  • Small Group finder
  • Bible study resources
  • Online Giving
This list could go on and we won't solve all of these needs immediately, but the technology is there to do much more  than is currently being done.  I hope to be a part of meeting these needs and I don't plan to do it alone.  I hope to lock arms  with sharper minds than mine (which isn't hard to find) and see how we together can create technologies to meet the needs of the Church universal and not just our local church.
I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.  What have I missed or what opportunities do you see?