Warning: This post was published more than 7 years ago.
I keep old posts on the site because sometimes it's interesting to read old content. Not everything that is old is bad. Also, I think people might be interested to track how my views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured!
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- My views might have changed in the 7 years since I wrote this post.
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Many thanks for your understanding.
Flicking through my Twitter feed this morning, I noticed something about Google prophecying about applications soon been independent on the devices on which they run. I didn’t read any further, but the idea obviously seeded somewhere deep in my cerebrum, as it has been playing on my mind all day.
My initial reaction was “rubbish”. Web based apps are great – I’m a big user of Google Docs – but they’re far from device independent. I can access my Google Docs from anywhere, any computer, and even on my BlackBerry. But I’m not clinically insane, and wouldn’t try and write a dissertation on a BlackBerry. The application might work on one, but that’s not device independence.
But then something occurred to me: Email.
Not so long ago, I used to use Outlook Express to access my email at home. And for a while afterwards, I flirted with various versions of Outlook, Opera, Thunderbird and many others.
In my early years at uni, I had Outlook on my computer and a ZZN email account which would poll the various email servers I used and pull in copies for me to browse on the go when I was away from home.
Later, I had an iPaq – it seems so old worldly now, but it had no wireless or mobile connection. I would only get new email or send emails when it synced with my computer.
For a very long time, my computer was the centre of my email universe. That is no longer true.
Email is one application that is genuinely device independent. My Gmail is pushed to my BlackBerry, but if I’m sat at a computer I’m equally likely to just click onto a browser and access it that way – without a second thought.
I can access it using any computer with equal ease, and with full functionality. Due to their relatively short nature, I’m equally likely to tap out a reply on my BlackBerry as I am to reply via PC.
The idea of waiting, as I did only 5 years ago or so, until I get home to check my email seems hopelessly quaint and antiquated.
Is this level of unity gifted by the nature of email as an application? Or can Google (or anyone else for that matter) replicate it for other functions?
I wouldn’t be so quick to rule it out any more.