The Age of Wire-less

The keynote address that unveiled the iPhone 7/7 Plus, the delayed AirPods, and the new Apple Watches got me thinking about the upcoming future of our wireless world. The announcement was met with some praise and criticism,1 but also a vision of the future.

In college while getting my degree in Mechanical Engineering, I was fortunate to have cooperative education available to me; in fact, it was required for me to graduate. For one of these assignments, I worked for a company that engineered and sold the fuel filling systems at gas stations. When I was there, they were working on a "dripless" nozzle: the idea of a gasoline nozzle that did not drip anything onto the pavement below was something that the emissions agencies set their sights on obtaining. In the end, thanks to physics and fluid dynamics, this was found to be impossible. So the focus became to create a "drip-less" nozzle: while the drips might still happen, they wouldn't be as frequent.

And that's the future we are headed towards with wireless and connected devices. As the devices we use get better with time, as they gain more features while consuming less power, as we get better connectivity through chipsets and software, our daily experience with these devices will be improved. For the foreseeable future, we will still need the use of wires to charge; however, we will use them less, and that's really the point of all of it.

Recently, I was able to pick up an Apple Watch for fairly cheap.2 Within the first 48 hours, I could see how much of a game changer this is for me. First off, my phone is pretty much silent now: there's no vibrations, no sounds, and ultimately no distractions. The only notifications I get come to the Watch, but only through the haptic feedback; I can choose to ignore it or answer it. But the big difference here is that I'm not tempted to check other things like email or Twitter as frequently. I'm handling the incoming notifications and going back to what I was doing, greatly reducing the time I'm using the device. If it needs more attention, then I'll pull out my phone, but only when I'm ready to do so. I'm more present in the moment, and that's better for family, friends and work.

The idea of having an ultra-mobile computing center is appealing; it's no wonder people are moving towards an iOS-centric computing platform. Even now, as I use a wireless keyboard to type on my iPhone, while listening to music on my Bluetooth headphones and glancing occasionally at the time or a message on my Watch, the freedom from wires is liberating and gives me a better feeling about my technology use. The key focus of the Apple Event really was to show the ecosystem; every component of the system compliments one another. The goal is to have a series of connected devices, but not with cumbersome wires.

The fact that I am typically able to get through the day without charging any of my devices is fantastic.3 But the devices I use will still require charging, and therefore wires — but it is less frequent than ever. And until the day comes where there is power freely floating through the air and good enough that it can charge devices quickly, there won't be an Age of Wireless. We have, however, entered the Age of Wire-less — and I love the freedom it provides and the direction this is headed for the future.

  1. Hot Take: I'm thankful that they got rid of the headphone jack. I haven't used it much in over a year since I purchased wireless headphones, and didn't miss it at all.
  2. You will actually be able to hear about it soon-ish. Stay tuned.
  3. And in the case of the watch, maybe every 2 days. Still waiting to see how well this works over time.