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On the eve of the Intel Developer Forum 2010, you might think an old chiphead like me would be writing about silicon.
And I might. But apps are at the forefront of my mind just now.
Why? Because all that power that Intel is about to deliver to mobile apps, and all the power that Apple is sitting on if it implements the ARM 15 processor core in its next iPhone or iPad, and all the power that NVIDIA is set to introduce just one week from today…add up to a whole hell of a lot more processing capability than is currently being used by even the most aggressive mobile apps – except, perhaps, for a few interactive games.
And the bottom line is, as Steve Jobs so eloquently said in his new Apps Developer Guidelines, there will be “no more fart apps.”
That’s right, Apps 2.0 is coming, and it’s going to be blazingly high performance.
Of course, there are tons of low-performance, low-quality apps out there, but Apple and Android developers see these as so much clutter in the way of the real gems that will take mobile applications to the next level. And Apple, Intel, Google, Microsoft and others are doing everything they can to encourage that high-performance, App 2.0 mentality in their respective developer communities.
Intel just rolled out a new developer’s kit, Google just rolled out Android 2.2 and a new App developer kit, and Apple has upgraded its iOS operating system for developers as well. And then there are third party developers like Appcelerator, which has rolled out a new Titanium development platform that works for both Apple and Android apps.
In fact, the rivalry has gotten so heated that Apple just this past week backed down from its curiously self-limiting embargo against Adobe Flash apps. Clearly, Apple got the message that Android would take over its market if the ubiquitous Flash programs were not supported on Apple platforms.
One reason for all this activity, of course, is that high-performance apps could bring higher revenues. At the same time, they will hopefully engage users longer, which translates to more air time and therefore more revenue for everyone, including the carriers, who are getting increasingly impatient to see a cut for all their efforts.
So, now that all these development platforms have been reset, what will the new Apps 2.0 do?
Fundamentally, they’re going to take much better advantage of the functionality of the mobile devices they’re in. For instance, developers can be expected to exploit GPS systems, gyroscopes, motion sensors, touchscreens, page flips, rotating screens, vibrators and music, WiMax, WiFi and MiFi, front and back cameras, and graphics processing capabilities, and tons of memory, to name just a few.
They will also take advantage of social media environments to create highly integrated multiplayer environments where users can not only talk to each other or see each other on the phone, they will also interact with each other virtually through features such as Apple’s Game Center, perhaps even using a combination of virtual and augmented reality features combined with real geolocation services as well as Google Maps and Facebook Places. Oh and did I mention 3D? It will make high-performance gaming extraordinarily realistic not just on the Apple TV, but the iPad and iPhone as well, in due time. You can bet there will be Android variations as well.
In short, mobile devices will have all of the functionality of an XBox or Sony PlayStation, with the added advantage of instant, anywhere multiplayer communications, streaming video and customizable music environments.
And even if you are not a gamer, there is a real place for all this technology.
For instance, as more software companies support the Software as a Service (SaaS) business model, they’ll make complex and high performance applications increasingly available in the cloud. Once that happens, it’s just a matter of (A) how much performance your mobile device can deliver and (B) how secure the environment is given a mobile application. And we all know that Intel is working on the latter with its recent acquisition of McAffee.
When you take a grand view perspective of all of this, the question isn’t “What would Apps 2.0 do?”
Instead, it looks more like, “What won’t Apps 2.0 do?”
Indeed, the next generation of apps may well prove to have greater functionality and performance than many bleeding edge programs that are currently installed on new desktop PCs.
If I had to look anywhere for an example of the new generation of software technology, I’d be looking at both the Intel Developer Forum and the NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference later this month. What they’re doing with high-performance PC and game systems now will be on mobile technology in very short order…perhaps as early as the Consumer Electronics Show in January.