Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Will mobile phones replace personal computers?

MSNBC - Your Next Computer

Sure. If they can provide one crucial element that personal computers have, but this article misses : freedom. Freedom for developers to hack their own applications. Freedom for anyone on the net to provide their own services without asking the phone company permission. Freedom to talk back and upload as much as you download.

And for me personally, I need a phone that's a portable software development environment. How would my handheld device work?

1) It would have a built in camera.

2) that camera could take a picture of anything I scrawled on a piece of paper and reliably OCR it, extract the text and diagrams. And it would transparently handle hand-shaking, poor light, weird angles etc.

3) It would have some kind of kinetic sensor that would let me trace symbols and arcs in the air with it, and interpret these glyphs into meaningful commands.

4) It would have headphones

5) And would do text-to-speech conversion from web-sites and RSS feeds to the quality of a Radio 4 documentary. Nice BBC English voices ...

6) It had wiki nature. Ie, not only did it have a wiki built in, but all the UI elements had a notional "edit this" button ...

7) It was scriptable in Python or something higher-level

8) It seemlessly managed and searched my mail / audio messages.

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