I went for a run through the forests near our house on Friday evening. I’m usually pretty good with directions however managed to find myself in a totally different suburb as to that which I though I was. I had my phone with me so called my wife for some directions on how to get home. It certainly would have been so much more simple to have a smartphone with me so that I could view maps whilst running (if need be).
The growth in Smartphone usage is quite spectacular. Android is leading in sales however iPhone keeps doing well and Windows Phone 7 is gaining traction. Along with the Phones themselves are the apps and the stores that sell or distribute these Apps. The concept of Online App stores is expanding to more traditional Computers due to the success with Smartphone App stores.
There is also a wealth of new technology being introduced to smartphones such as Near Field Communication (NFC) (just released with the Samsung Nexus-S ): this is a seriously cool capability where a static item may enable dynamic interaction with the ‘visitor’ e.g. a Restaurant billboard may allow the visitor with an enabled Smartphone to view the menu of that restaurant as well as that days specials.
Of course, the rise in Smartphone usage has presented challenges to Website Designers; the width of a smartphone screen is typically of a smaller resolution than a desktop (or iPad) so designers need to cater for an even greater variance in resolution (although there are ways of catering for these changes using some clever CSS etc. which I implement on almost all the WordPress Websites I design).
Page load speed is also a major consideration from a Website designers, and content providers, perspective. Page load speed is not only a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) activity but rather has very significant ramifications for visitors to a Website; mobile devices usually use Bluetooth, wi-fi or 3G and all of these are affected by signal degradation so the smaller the Page size and the faster the Page load speed the less change of the visitor having to refresh the Page (or worse, going to a different Page if your doesn’t load quickly enough). Google Maps for Android is implementing new ways of loading images to reduce the filesize of the maps; consider this ‘it takes more than 360 billion tiles to cover the whole world at 20 zoom levels!’. Just think how even small reductions in the map filesizes will reduce the time to load the tens of millions of maps viewed each day on smartphones.
Smartphone adoption is massive and growing (I was at a Bon Jovi concert on Saturday and it was amazing to see how many people were video or photographing using their smartphone). The possibilities fro Website designers, advertisers, programmers and end-users is spectacular!