Context-adaptive devices

We are seeing growing trend in mobile platforms is to attempt to be relevant in the context in which you are using them, driven mostly by platform-specific virtual assistants but also by applications that are using platform capabilities such as geo-fencing.  One example every day that I see is Google telling me every morning around 8:30 what my current commute to the office will be, and if it’s longer or shorter than the day before.  Towards the end of the day, I get a similar message on my Android phone telling me about how long my commute home will be.  It’s able to do this because it knows it’s a pic1business work day, that I’m at the office, pic2and it’s about time for me to head home.  It takes into consideration the traffic conditions to give me the information that I need, at the time I need it.  I get similar messages from Cortana on my Windows 10 machine.

So this is great…but…mobile platforms need to take this concept much, much further.  What I experience in my life is that I need a mobile device that can adapt itself to where I’m at, what I’m doing, and what kinds of apps and services I need to best support what is going on at that moment.

For example, on a weekend – especially a weekend I’m out of town with my family – I don’t need immediate access to my email.  (I most often remove the Outlook app icon from my homescreen so I’m not even tempted to open it!)  I don’t need my Slack app, or need to be notified about new messages.  I don’t need easy access to Office apps on my device.  I do need quick access to messaging apps, my camera app, maybe a few social media apps, and my photo gallery.  And I need to prioritize battery life, because if I’m away for the weekend, and likely, I’m not near a power source.

During the week, at least between 7AM and 9PM, I need my device to be in “business mode” – I want notifications from business-focused apps, and I want quick access to my email and my calendar to stay connected to what’s going on with work.  I care less about social media apps, my camera, or photo gallery.  I want my device in “high performance mode” – typically I’m near a charging source, and often my device sits on a wireless charger when I’m not using it anyway.  Battery life is less a concern, so let’s max out the usefulness of the device.

There is no reason that my device cannot learn from what it knows about me to adapt itself, or at a minimum, allow me to create a set of rules which govern what mode it is currently in.  Our devices know all about us – it’s time that they start truly adapting to the context in which they can be most useful to us.

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