Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Open Source Phone

After Google's announcement of the Open Handset Alliance, I got to thinking about what an open phone platform would mean to me. The first thought that came to my mind was about OpenMoko and how those two might integrate, because to me, OpenMoko was one of the original open platforms for phone development. What Google has done with the Open Handset Alliance, is take the OpenMoko idea further and used their clout to gain support from industry leaders. This is a good thing.

Enough of my rant and back to what I would like to see from an open mobile device.

Seamless desktop integration

To start, I'll go with something simple that would enhance my phone experience greatly. While many phones sync with the desktop, the one's I've seen/used have always been very clunky and unintuitive. What I'd really like to see in a mobile device is one that seamlessly integrates itself with my desktop. I shouldn't have to make sure my calendar is up to date or if my contact information is synced, it should just do it. It would also be nice to have some synergy between my phone and desktop where photos captured on my phone are geo tagged and displayed in order of where I took them. It would be fun to see where and when I took pictures or sent texts throughout the day. Basically, I don't want to have to fumble with syncing my phone and apps, it should just happen automatically.

Increased location awareness

GPS is one of the most fun aspects of modern mobile devices. Almost all cellphones have GPS and many other hand held devices do as well. This could lead to some really interesting uses of the technology. It would be nice to be able to have a location aware todo list available. For example, when I'm near the grocery store, my phone could remind me that I needed to pick up groceries. Another example I got from a teacher of mine was to place the phone in theater mode so that within a certain distance of the theater, the phone automatically goes into silent mode.


I'd also like to allow people to see my availability status using their phone. Much like messengers have away, busy, available, etc... this would be a great way to remind people I'm in a movie or in a meeting and to leave a message instead or call later. This could also be tied into my personal calendar to automatically put me as in a meeting or unavailable at the scheduled time. Phones, much like IM can be very disruptive and by adding presence to my phone I can help remind people I'm not available all the time.

Anything I want

Ultimately, what an open platform offers me is the ability to do what I want with the phone and my data however I choose to. This is a huge step forward from locked, proprietary phones where only your service provider was special enough to access the phones full capabilities. With this increased openness we can begin to explore the full potential of our phones and mobile devices hardware. We will truly begin to see a second 'social web' forming with the interactions of thousands of interconnected mobile devices. I for one, am very excited at this push for openness and I am excited to see the new uses for our mobile devices.

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