Will Richardson

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RE: standards

So I got a bit off-topic in my last post about standards, and how I think we need more of them to make all the cool new gadgets function together - maybe not work nicely, but at least function.

So naturally, I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to see standardised.

1. Wireless file transfers

Airdrop is pretty cool, so is Samsung’s S beam. Both are limited to a handful of devices (S beam is actually based on the standard android beam, but is extended to tranfer faster over an ad-hoc wifi network)

Sending a file to someone shouldn’t be difficult, but at the moment you’re stuck with email, a physical drive or a cloud storage (relevant xkcd). Being able to share a file to any device without cables or 3rd party apps would be excellent.

At the moment the easiest way to transfer a file to my phone from my laptop is either Dropbox or a home server. Neither are particularly convenient - I think most android phones should have a ‘USB mode’ and can act like a pen drive, hovever my last two phones and tablet couldn’t do this (all Samsung - correlation?)

2. Cloud storage (& other web services)

So, everything’s moving towards the cloud. You can pick up a Chromebook for a few hundred dollars and cast away ties to any local filesystems. However, your data has to be in Google’s servers. Hmm. Any app that you use either needs it’s own server or use Google’s.

I would be great if basic cloud save functionality was standardised, so that you could pick the service that data is stored in, decreasing the monopoly that Google will only get a tighter grip on when (not if) Chromebooks take off. This could mean that for some app, when you sign up you just say “put my data in ACME Cloud Storage, please!” and away it went, without the app developer having to hard-code interfaces for every cloud provider on earth.

This idea could be extended to social networks and other web apps, similarly to how android handles intents - if you have a network ‘installed’, you can share information to it from any other webapp. Again without the developer having to write tedious amounts of code.

3. Instant Messaging

Similar to #2 this would mean that different services would have at least some kind of common functionality - I don’t know.. like messaging people or something - and then each provider could have more awesome features on top, but at least you wouldn’t absolutely have to have multiple services just to talk to people. Imagine if email only worked between the same host? Gmail would be the only one left (I mean, who uses anything else?)

I don’t know quite how any of this would be implemented, but that’s another problem!

I Want Standards and Control

Can you iMessage me? Wait I have Android. You can’t. Damn. Facetime? Nope. This isn’t just an Apple thing? send a file on Android with NFC? Oh you don’t have S beam? As phones turn into more and more powerful mini-computers they seem to be still lagging behind when it comes to compatibility. It still matters if someone has iOS, Android or Windows Phone - not every app has been written three times.

There are three awesome things that are still functionally standard across all platforms:

  • SMS
  • Email
  • Phone calls (I know, who uses that!)

And this is what holds mobile technology together. There is no relying on a platform to come up with a solution and then change it (Twitter), because if you don’t like something you can always use a different app any of the three that fits your needs better. (Well, I presume you can on iOS – wait you can’t :’( sucks for you I guess.)

This is the main reason why I favour Android over other mobile OSs - it lets apps fully replace part of my phone, letting them completely integrate into the OS. You wouldn’t notice that I don’t use the stock camera, messaging app or launcher. They all just slide in together like a crazy jigsaw.

Now I will admit it is a bit of a pain having to set these little things up, and I understand Apple’s want to fully control how iOS works - if you download an average messaging app and can’t send texts, who do you blame? Apple.

Although, imagine that you went and bought a shiny new Surface 3 and then found out that Internet Explorer was stuck as the default browser. Every link you open INTERNET EXPLORER! Why would you do that to yourself? You masochistic freak.

Even OS X allows you to change the default browser (to Chrome), mail app (to Mailbox) and search engine (to Google). Although by the looks of Yosemite the latter may be locked to Bing.. I don’t know how I’ll manage. Seriously Apple - if you do this and don’t give me the option to change it, I will consider switching back to Ubuntu for a whole 5 minutes.

It’s my technology - I should be able to add and remove bits as I see fit. ie:

I should have superuser privileges.


Hello! I’m Will. Currently studying software engineering and generally making a nuisance of myself building random things that I think should exist.

This blog is here because it’d be nice to have a place to put stuff that I make and talk about it a bit.

I guess I’ll actually write something interesting later - time for a run now!