First things first, totally get that I led with a question. But not so sure Betteridge’s law applies here.
Samsung rolled out their latest and greatest smartphone yesterday, the Galaxy S8. Interesting phone, includes a new digital assistant named Bixby, a fingerprint scanner/encrypted facial recognition, and a desktop dock (a la Microsoft’s Continuum).
Bixby is not ready for primetime, but this article will give you a sense of Samsung’s plans. Note that the current incarnation has none of the tech Samsung got when they bought Siri’s original maker, Viv, so there’s clearly a long way to go there.
As to the fingerprint scanner, I am struck by the fact that Samsung placed it on the back of the phone, adjacent to the camera and, most importantly, made it off center. Back of the phone means you are searching for the scanner blindly. Adjacent to the camera means you’ll be regularly touching the camera lens cover (dirty/oily hands mean camera lens smudges).
And off center is a design bias, likely designed for right-handed people. The Apple Watch has a design bias as well, but you can turn your watch upside down if you want to switch wrists, there’s a setting that flips the interface. But the phone has no such mechanism. A nit, but the devil is in the details, no?
So now we get to the crux of the matter, the desktop dock, called Dex. The Dex is a hockey puck shape, an inch or so wider than the phone, with a fliptop cover that reveals a USB-C port into which you plug your phone. Dex has other ports and connects to a desktop display, mouse, and keyboard.
You can read about the details and watch a video of Dex in action in this Engadget article. Bottom line, when the Galaxy S8 plugs into the Dex, you’ve got access to a desktop experience, complete with mouse cursor. This is still Android, but a desktop hybrid. And I like it.
Phone docking into desktops is not new. Not sure if this is the first example of this concept, but back in 2011, Motorola had a product called the ATRIX 4G, allowing one of the early Android phones to dock with and power a Motorola laptop.
Back to the headline. Could this be the future of the Mac? As iPhone processing power increases, could Apple create a hybrid desktop product driven by some future version of the A10 Fusion (the 64-bit system on a chip that drives the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus), a product that looks and acts like an iPhone, but that doubles as a desktop experience when you plug it into a dock, complete with large display, mouse, and keyboard?
If that device was powerful enough to support applications like Xcode, Photoshop, Illustrator, Final Cut Pro, etc., this could greatly simplify Apple’s product line, pushing all software development to Swift and iOS.
Could it happen? Time will tell.