Jamie Balfour

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The docking trend

The docking trend

The trend of smartphones replacing functionality that was once carried out by a desktop or laptop computer is continuing to grow. With companies like Samsung and Google at the forefront of this new technology, things like DeX, we are beginning to see a new bring-your-own-device to work scenario growing. A lot of this functionality has come from the latest chips being powerful enough to perform desktop-like functions and give a desktop-like environment without struggling but it's also down to the advancements in cable technology like USB Type C and its Alt-Mode function. 

Let's look at the first point made here: smartphone chips are more powerful than ever, boasting up to 6GB or 8GB of RAM and decent graphics processors. They are more than capable of running Windows 7 based on those specifications, so they are more than capable of running your desktop applications such as Microsoft Word in a smartphone form. Microsoft attempted to do this with their phones using Continuum [1]. This was a fairly wild idea back in 2015 when smartphone processors were nowhere near what they are now. But this kind of thing is now very possible for the average job (we're not talking about playing games on a secondary display with a mouse and keyboard) such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. I can see this being very useful for me if I was doing another talk where I could simply dock my phone rather than my laptop. Apple has now made this possible on iPad with the new Stage Manager feature which is very impressive - this kind of thing should come to iPhone when docked.

Now let's look at the second point made here, connectivity. Connectivity is perhaps the main reason this kind of stuff is becoming very possible. Looking at what Microsoft was trying to achieve in 2015 with micro USB (which by the way, was USB 2.0) and USB Type C (later on, however). This is a great idea, one that I fully support. Samsung's DeX feature is actually so seamless that a company my brother was working at during a contract with some 200+ employees in the part he was working at had moved to bring-your-own-device and they would dock it into their USB Type C docks to connect the corporate network and gain a mouse, keyboard and display. Not only does this save the company money, but it also reduces the number of devices the users actually need, adds functionality such as making phone calls from their desktop system and perhaps the most interesting one is that it can actually be used to reduce the amount of time users spend on non-work related apps on their phones (users can enable a work mode when the phone is docked, allowing them to only use work-related apps).

Now some say that the future of smartphones taking over laptops is well away [2], and sure I can definitely agree, but when I heard a whole 200+ people were using their phones using Samsung DeX as their sole working device, I was absolutely astonished. Sure where I work we've done away with desktops, your laptop simply connects to the keyboard, mouse, 2 displays and projector by docking with USB Type C, but it's not quite the same as replacing a laptop with a smartphone or even a tablet for that matter. 

[1] https://www.theverge.com/2015/4/29/8513519/microsoft-windows-10-continuum-for-phones

[2] https://www.teamtreysta.com/will-smartphones-take-over-laptop-functions-in-the-future/

Posted in Tech talk
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