Phone technology is evolving faster than an X-Man in a radiation chamber, but in exactly the same way – showy stuff on the outside but none of it’s useful in the real world. The harsh reality is that there’s only one way to make a mobile box that you talk into, meaning companies are cramming everything else they can think of in to stand out. And even then the only real differences are “Do you like white things or Google things?”
It’s a shame, because we already have the technology to truly improve mobile communications. Instead of arguing about apps and open-source, we could once and for all stop stupid idiots from shouting in cinemas. This is huge. This is the mobile technology equivalent of eliminating smallpox, and we have that technology.
Modern phones feature GPS more prominently than their own speakers, the latter seen as a vaguely embarrassing appendix-like organ to be shoved in a corner. Which is weird because if just one phone boasted, “a speaker you can actually hear beside a busy road” it would end the mobile phone war forever. Instead they go into great detail about how knowing your precise location can help you, as if 95% of everyone in the country didn’t exist on a single-tracked orbit between two or three places. And it doesn’t work in the one location it could really make a difference.
It’s so simple: your phone could use its GPS and Google Maps to check if it’s inside a cinema. If it is, it silently abuses the owner and turns itself off.
Mobile money is going to be the most entertaining clash of capitalist strategies outside of drunken Monopoly. You’ve got all the credit card companies on one side, who either own or owe all the money in the world (depending on whether you use “financial” or “real” numbers), and all the phone companies on the other. Both are extraordinarily happy with their “convert entire populations into cash farm” approaches and in the next ten years, one of these groups as we know it will be gone. With electronic finance there’s simply no need to carry a card around with your phone, in the same way you don’t carry a flint axe in your back pocket.
Whether we end up with VISA apps or entirely new e-money ideas remains to be seen, but there are already apps for the electronic transfer of money. And we can turn that into sweet (and literal) payback. When a noise-polluting playback of the Sugababes sounds in the cinema, the owner’s phone should instantly transfer the full cost of the ticket to everyone else in the theatre. Don’t worry, we know that kind of person won’t have the money (or any worth of any other kind), but that’ll be between them and the credit card which allowed them to purchase a polyphonic polluter in the first place.
This might sound too severe, but destroying the phones of film-ruiners would actually be a step up for Apple. At least then they’d be targeting people causing pain to the public, instead of “evil” “hackers” and their “actually wanting to use their own hardware that they paid for.” Simply set up a Wi-Fi field inside the cinema, and if anyone’s phone rings inside you can shoot the offending electronics with a mounted machine-gun if you like – as long as the weapon was silenced, unlike the phone, everyone in the world will be on your side. And if that targeted fire happens to pass through the phone and into its owner, it’ll be the first time improvements to the gene pool happened as an electronic side effect.