User Interface convergence is pointing towards the Cloud …

It is more than a year now when I was thinking about Desktop and Mobile user interface convergence topic for the first time. After all that time the question is not if personal devices’s user interfaces are converging or not but why is this happening and why it is happening so fast.

For one thing software applications  are fleeing to the cloud …

Today the trend is not only a reality but the signals from the big tech industry clearly pointing towards Cloud Computing and Cloud Services. Big technology companies are competting for this space with services such as HP Cloud, IBM SmartCloud, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Cloud Services, Google Cloud Platform, Apple iCloud, Ubuntu Cloud Solutions, Oracle’s Cloud Computing , SalesForce Cloud Services, just to mention a few of the big ones. These companies usually provide technology specific cloud services which come with support for open and proprietary application program interfaces (APIs) but in general each company significantly favors  their own technologies and APIs. REST in general is the open cloud standard that is commonly supported by almost all these big company providers.

Another class of Cloud Computing and services came from original  Web hosting companies which rose during early 2010 decade and managed to steadily grow and evolve  from plain web hosting providers to Platform As A Service (PAAS) providers, most of them offers a wide range of open solutions rather than technology specific ones, support for open standard interconnection and full REST interfaces are definitely a common denominator for most of the Cloud Service providers of this class. There is a huge number of companies such as Joyent, RackSpace, MediaTemple, Linode and many more available out here, all of them offering web application hosting features to enable software developers to deploy and deliver Software As A Service (SAAS) applications.

There is a small number of specialized PASS technology shops which serve vertical segments of SAAS using niche development frameworks. These companies would also offer full back end management services so developers can concentrate managing their business rather than managing the back end (production) of their SAAS applications. To name a few EngineYard, NewLeaders (ThinCloud) are good examples.

What is the point with user interfaces then …

Now that we know that a big number of the software applications will be running over a sort of a cloud service then the obvious is to assume that most users will be using a web browser type of interface to interact with software applications for their day to day activities and needs. Since this assumption seems to be credible, reality is that content consumer’s (software application users) are buying and using more mobile devices than personal computers and this trend is accelerating.

Now it makes sense, Personal computing is not stationery anymore (or the office space is not stationary now), so users jump from their smartphone, Tablet, Netbook (laptop computer) and traditional workstation computer frequently and often,  some even using two or more of these device at the same time while changing locations trough the workday or workweek.

Canonical is already poised to cover this whole spectrum, Ubuntu content user’s will now be able to seamlessly use a common look and feel operating system user interface from their smartphone (Ubuntu for phones), Ubuntu Tablet and Ubuntu desktop to cover all their computing needs. The guys from Canonical also provide Ubuntu cloud for those looking for a complete end to end stack.

Microsoft corporation is also a company looking to fulfill the complete range services and options for individuals and companies. Standard user interface is available from Windows Phone, Windows Surface (Tablets), Windows 8 OS for laptops, desktops and servers. Microsoft also offers its proprietary Windows Azure cloud platform to complement its computing ecosystem.

Google corporation a company who started as a cloud base company from its inception and dominates a big chunk of today’s internet traffic is not far from providing a full range of technologies to enable a common user interface for content consumers. Starting with Google Android for both smartphones and tablets, Google  Chrome browser and Operating system which is widely used all across Net Books, Laptops, Desktop and Workstation computers would probably be one of the most common user interfaces from mobile to the Cloud.

Apple Inc, would with its iOS and OSX software and proprietary consumer and computing hardware might be one of the most popular now a days but it does not offer a common user interface end to end. While mobile devices are gesture based (touch screen capable) their computer software is not yet and even if it would the interfaces are completely different that can not be considered for comparison. Apple also provides a basic propitiatory iCloud service that is worth to mention.

Conclusion …

Well, I believe that having options and competition is always good for consumers, while the companies above and many others work their way to capture a pieces of today’s content and computing market, it is obvious that individuals and companies will be choosing one of them to cover their data management end to end needs. The Market is big and there is room for these a new technologies but certainly covering end to end user interface is a trend that will be proven in the near future.


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