I want my smartphone to offer more adaptive features

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| February 7, 2014

There are some days that one of the first things I pick up in the morning is my phone. I don't do it to check up on social feeds (other than Twitter), or even my text messages or instant messages waiting for me. I do it solely to browse the news, and see what's going on in the world. In day's passed (for most people) it would have been a newspaper, but now I have news apps that help me get to the information I need when I need it.

Every time I pick up my phone, it looks the same from the last time I put it down. Naturally, my home screen (or screens) probably don't look anything like anyone else's, thanks to the customization allowed us on most devices these days. But, I'm like most people and I just shove application icons into folders and call it a day. And since I've stopped using widgets, even my Android-based devices have screens filled with folders.

My screens never change, unless I change them. And I think I'm just starting to want more out of my device.

Over the years, we've seen plenty of devices with "modes." Easy ways for people to switch between work and play and whatever else. While there have been a few memorable ones, the one that really stands out to me is HTC's implementation of the function within their Sense UI, way back in the day. It was one of the selling points for the original Hero. Being able to change your home screen, the applications it shows, the widgets presented on display, and whatever else just by switching from "Work" to whatever else.

It was an easy way to have the apps you need, during the times you need them, presented front and center. You didn't need to see your work folder on the home screen at all times if you didn't want to, and you didn't need to have apps or widgets littering your displays when you didn't need them. It was quick, and it was painless for the most part. But, there was one kick:

You had to make the switch.

And this is what I want to see get better. Adaptive home screens, or features in general. I know that Android has a few home replacements that offer adaptive technologies or ideas, but I don't want to see replacements. I want to see the idea baked into the software we're using these days. After all, our smartphones are supposed to be smart (and they are, obviously), so why not have the ability to offer us what we need, based on our surroundings or even the time of day?

When it comes to Android, I think this is something that Google Now could make good use of, thanks to the fact the feature is so ingrained into the life of anyone who uses it. Google Now knows when you have to be at work, so if it could know when you're at work, or working in general, the phone's display could switch to apps you need, services you use and widgets you want displayed. It could really excel at this by knowing which apps you use the most during these periods, and offering them up to you automatically. So you don't have to set it up, or activate it. It just does it automatically.

Considering Siri, Apple's digital personal assistant, is meant to help you when you need it, I think it would be pretty great if she were able to serve up apps, stories, or whatever else when you need them most. So, like in the morning when many people are looking to get their news, it'd be great if iOS offered up stories from those apps automatically, at a certain time of day.

Windows Phone could make it look the coolest, though. With the amount of color that gets injected into those Live Tiles, you could set up your device to switch tiles, and colors, depending on the time of day and whatever other criteria you might need.

What do you think? Would you benefit from your phone changing a few things here and there for certain times of the day? Would you like to see more adaptive technologies adopted into our smartphones? Let me know!