Personal computers are around us everywhere in some form or the other. From huge towers to thin and light notebooks, to bezel-less smartphones in our pockets. And in every form factor, computers are getting increasingly powerful. With advancements from the likes of AMD and Intel, computers are getting more powerful, all while remaining incredibly efficient. But there are two major areas in computing that has seen the most advancements: smartphones and cloud computing.

The amount of processing power within a modern smartphone would have been unthinkable 10 years ago. We have come to a point where smartphones can be hooked up to a monitor with a mouse and keyboard and can be used as a fully functional desktop PC.

On the other side of the spectrum, the computing industry is moving to the datacenter, making consumer devices cheaper and cheaper. A classic example of that are Google Chromebooks.

With advances on both sides of the computing industry, it is only natural that we wonder in which direction the future is headed towards.

The future

Personally, think we are headed towards a future in which the above two things go hand in hand: that is, smartphones and cloud computing.

Most of the things we do today are cloud based. For example, cloud-storage is more ubiquitous than ever, with the likes of iCloud, Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, just to name a few. Not only documents, but we also store a lot of our photos and videos in the cloud, with services like Google Photos giving us free unlimited storage. We all use some form of cloud storage daily these days. So, it is only befitting that cloud computing is the future.

But smartphones will also play a major role in this cloud future of ours. Think of it: how much time do we all spend on our smartphones daily? Not necessarily for using social media, but also for getting work done. Now, admittedly, if it weren’t for cloud computing, we wouldn’t be able to use our smartphones the way we use them today. And that’s why, I believe that smartphones and cloud computing will go hand in hand in the future.

We have already been given a glimpse of this cloud-connected future.

Chromebooks

Google’s Chromebooks are a living proof of this concept. They are cheap, with models starting as low as $200. ChromeOS is basically the Chrome browser on steroids. It is cloud-based, meaning that it uses Google Drive for storage, and you use services such as Google Docs, Gmail, etc. That is how Chromebooks have low-power processors and still let you get the job done. If you were to install a fully-fledged desktop OS on those devices, the processor would not be able to keep up.

But Google has another major tool in its arsenal: Android. In recent versions of ChromeOS, Google has opened-up the Play Store for Chromebook users. That means they can download a lot of the apps you would use on Android, for example Microsoft Office apps, your favorite games, etc. Google’s Chromebook concept is a living proof of the future, and I think that Google are going to be a key player, as well as a successful company in the future of cloud-computing.

Smartphones

So where do smartphones come in? If you may have noticed, Chromebooks are still notebook devices. They aren’t as portable as a smartphone.

Another living proof of this cloud and smartphone future is Samsung. It is currently the only major smartphone vendor that allows you to connect a monitor, mouse and keyboard to your smartphone and use it as a fully-fledged desktop OS. It lets you run Android apps that are inconvenient to use on a smartphone as if they were regular desktop apps. Now, while this is a major advancement in technology, it really doesn’t have much to do with cloud, right? Wrong.

Recently, Samsung has collaborated with Ingram Micro to bring a solution which will let Samsung S8/Note 8 users run a fully functional Windows 10 virtual machine running on Amazon Workspaces. That means that users don’t have to carry around a desktop and a smartphone. For programs that don’t run on Android, they can simply bring up their Windows instance hosted somewhere on the internet and do their work. Initially there may be a few limitations, however this is just the beginning. Samsung and Amazon have laid down the path to the future, and I am excited to see what the future holds.

So, as you may have figured by now, Google, Amazon, Samsung, and (sort-of) Microsoft are the key innovators in this field. For some, it may be disappointing to see Apple’s name not in the list, but let’s see how the future unfolds.

I am going to conclude on one last note. As you might have put it together by now, the future is in the cloud and smartphones. So, if you are one of those stubborn people who refuse to use cloud services or smartphones, now might be a good time to realize that times are changing, and soon you will realize that old-fashioned desktops as we know them are ending.