Mobile innovation is slowing but there's still plenty of room for improvementBy Shawn Knight
Apple has often be called an innovator in the world of technology but over the past few years, some have questioned whether or not that title still fits. To prove this point, Gizmodo recently put together a video that presents "definitive proof" that Apple is no longer an innovator.
As you'll see in the clip, there's no denying that some of Apple's new features like split-screen mode, proactive intelligence, public transit maps, its "News" aggregator app, iPad multitasking and Apple Music were all lifted from the likes of Google, Microsoft, Flipboard and Spotify.
Apple may have tweaked some features and changes a few things around but to contend that any of these features or ideas were uniquely Apple's would be foolish. But to categorize the Cupertino-based company as an imitator is a bit of a stretch.
The truth is, we're seeing less and less true "innovation" these days as it relates to mobile technology. More often than not, the real innovative stuff is developed by smaller companies that end up getting acquired by the bigger fish in the pond who in turn present the ideas or technology as their own.
As BGR highlights, others have "borrowed" just as many ideas from Apple over the years. For example, high-resolution mobile screens weren't even a thing before the Retina Display on the iPhone 4. The iPhone 5s was the first quality attempt at fingerprint authentication. Debates over its usefulness aside, nobody saw Apple's 64-bit mobile processor coming and its arrival, according to one Qualcomm employee, hit them in the gut. Apple didn't invent mobile payments but Apple Pay has spawned a number of copycats (Google even rebranded as Android Pay).
I could go on but the point here is that mobile technology has reached a level where it's now rare to find true innovation, largely because most everything has already been done. As Bob O'Donnell recently suggested, perhaps our expectations of Apple and the mobile industry in general are too high.
That said, there is still plenty of room for improvement, notably as it pertains to battery and camera technology.
Bigger batteries, faster recharging and software / hardware optimizations will only take us so far. We're still waiting on that big battery breakthrough that delivers multi-day uptime yet despite several recent breakthroughs, there's no indication that any of that is coming to mobile devices anytime soon.
The same can be said for mobile camera technology. While tiny sensors have improved leaps and bounds over what was possible a decade ago, smartphone cameras still aren't nearly as good as what even an entry-level point-and-shoot camera is possible of (and some believe they never will be).
To borrow a cliché from the automotive industry, "there's no replacement for displacement."
The size of a camera's imaging sensor plays a key role in the overall image quality that a camera can turn out. Given the limited real estate inside a smartphone, many contend that we'll never get close to DSLR-like image quality from a mobile camera.
I tend to agree as it's hard to argue with physics. Then again, who is to say that someone won't come up with a new take on existing tech or even a completely new and revolutionary approach altogether? That's exactly what some believe Apple is working on and it could debut in the next iPhone.
There's still plenty of room left for innovation in the mobile industry but companies are going to have to get a bit more creative to unearth them.