Friday, February 19, 2016

Phones can't multitask

More megahertz, bigger batteries, better screen, ok that's nice but it doesn't really give me the features I need!

The smartphone industry (hardware and software) have made huge technological leaps over the past 5 years in terms of battery solutions, screen quality, and the sheer usefulness of the apps. I can now go anywhere and get the local news, find my lost keys, check for food allergies on any product with a bar code, get notified about events that might interest me the moment they're scheduled, track the location of my cat or kid, listen to music, allow a cashier to laser scan a bar code on my phone, and get notified about a kidnapped child in my area,... so long as I don't want to do all of those things at the same time!

Current phones have amazing capabilities but also severe restrictions for multitasking.  Most people either wipe their phone out periodically and start over or but a new phone (which effectively doors the same thing). This is what could be improved to make multitasking better.

RAM:  everybody has an app.  Whether you're searching for your next home, a deal at your favorite restaurant, or your missing wallet, our phones connect us to the whole world through apps, but if you have more than about 8 apps looking for information on your behalf your phone isn't able to run all of those programs at once just because of memory restrictions. You'll phone will suck your battery dry trying to juggle them in and out of memory. What do the phone specs give you when you look for that next gigabyte of RAM?  Storage space. "Memory" is storage space according to the major cell phone providers. If I just had more RAM, I wouldn't need an expensive battery or external emergency battery.

Cores:  cores are basically how many things can your phone do at the same time. I think most smartphones are quad core, so the operating system schedules 4 items to be processed at any given instant, giving the illusion that the phone can do hundreds things at once by juggling them around, but really it's just 4. If the OS didn't have to juggle the RAM quite so much it would free up one of those cores, but even then, with all the apps we want to run at once there needs to be either more cores, or more efficient scheduling to run them all. Most apps are just monitoring data feeds for something new to notify us about, but seem to be idle until an event happens. No, they're not idle, just quietly checking for data to send your way.

Antennas:  wifi, GPS, telephone service, mobile data, and Bluetooth - all of these things use an antenna. Most of these are shared single connections that the phone manages, but not Bluetooth. I have a Bluetooth headset, a Bluetooth crash monitor in my car that will call for help in an emergency, and about 6 TrackR Bluetooth devices that monitor the location of my things so that I don't accidentally leave my keys, wallet, etc. behind (I would connect 10 if I could).  If my phone successfully maintains all of the Bluetooth connections, I lose GPS. With so many connections, it's no surprise that I have connectivity problems, either because the phone has insufficient resources to manage everything that's happening (see RAM, cores above) or because there aren't enough antennae to manage it all, but that's a guess.  At the very least someone needs to come up with a better way to manage connections to local gadgets, either an improvement to Bluetooth or a replacement for it akin to TCP/IP on wifi.

What's planned?  Well, I just checked the rumors for the Samsung Galaxy S7 expected to release this Sunday to see if any of these things will be addressed, sounds like more screen improvements. :-/  not a word about the stuff I care about.

I can't be the only one. Is anyone else running into this? 

No comments:

Post a Comment