When your phone is the only tech you’ll need

The intention is there to make your handheld device the only tech you’ll need at work – but with this development comes some challenges, says Tim Stackpool.

In a major public company situated in a capital city across many floors of a landmark building, there aren’t enough desks for employees – but this isn’t due to poor profits, poor planning or belt tightening. This is due to a study of where employees find themselves at various parts of the day. The study (performed by an external firm for use internally) discovered that, at any one time, only seven out of ten employees were sitting at their desk.

The mobile nature of each individual’s work – facilitated more so by evolving technology rather than need – means there ’s less and less requirement to be tied to an individual computer at a specific desk. Of course, there are times when an individual worker arrives back at the office to find nowhere to sit, which is why standing pods are also found in that particular workspace.

It’s the commonplace of the laptop computer that’s made office evolution like this possible. Now, ‘office’ business can be undertaken with flexibility and mobility, but given the incredible power found in mobile phones, why can’t this hand-held device be our single workstation?

Arriving at our hot desk, should we not somehow be able to plug a keyboard, monitor and mouse into our phone and continue our work using that device as the central processing unit?

The spirit is willing
As with many things, the answer doesn’t lie behind intention or capability – it lies within marketing. The cost of some phones now easily exceed that of a laptop, so it makes sense that the power of the phone should also be deployed as our desktop device. So, why double the expense?

Well, having a single device for ‘work’ was (and still is) a vision of Microsoft, with a single platform for use across all devices. But Windows based tablets and phones h ave found it tough to compete against the popularity of Android (Google) and iPhone (Apple) devices. Contrast that with the ubiquitous nature of Microsoft Windows and the Office Suite on laptops and desktop computers and it’s easy to understand why this divide remains wide.

Many questions and many answers
Microsoft continues to attempt to narrow the gap using the Microsoft Display Dock, which they say is s a PC-like experience, powered by your phone. But of course, you must be using a Windows-powered mobile phone to do so – and that’s less than five per cent of users. For the other 95 per cent, is there a solution?

For Android users, the DeskDock app meets part of the criteria, in that it transforms your Android phone as if it was an additional monitor for your computer – you move your computer’s mouse cursor over the screen boundaries. This way you retain the use of your ‘Office’ apps on your computer while also accessing your phone.

And, for iPhone users, DoBox promises to turn your iPad or iPhone into a MacBook Pro and has multiple ports to connect an internet cable, flash drives, hard drives, a keyboard, printers, TVs, projectors, monitors or speakers.

So, the intention is there to make your handheld device the only tech you’ll need in life. But with this development come some challenges:

  • Integrating seamlessly with workplace systems beyond email.
  • The security aspect – what happens if you leave your phone on the bus?
  • Further blurring of the lines between work time and personal time.

Beyond technology, in a world where we’re sometime defined more by what we do rather than who we are, this maybe the greatest challenge yet.

The Expert
Tech expert Tim is the technology writer for Executive PA Media. He can be heard on talk radio in his native Australia and is a tech presenter speaking at conferences and trade shows about technology’s impact on work and lifestyle.