When I was a child, out of the few things I remember studying in the "Computer Shikkha" (Computer studies) book was Moore's law. Many people explain this law differently, the version I knew stated that, "Computer specs double every two year".
I read an article recently about the current state of Quantum Computing and one thing became very obvious, If we don't invent dramatically different computers, we will soon break Moore's law. Even when I look at computers from 7-8 years ago. I really don't feel major difference. At least not for day-to-day tasks. Same goes for the phones. Phones now a days have a lot of ram, faster processor (much faster and better than even my first desktop computer). But if you compare it with phone from five years ago, there's no major difference except for the better specs and greater price tag.
I started to observe a common pattern in the Technology Giants in their recent product reveals, Giants like Google and Apple. They tend to talk less about hardware and more about software now a days. Let's start from the most recent ones:
Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL:
Google recently launched Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. If you look at the hardware specs, they are like any other flagship of this time. Not even too different from their last year's flagship, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. But still the phone has a lot going for and all of them have to do with the Software. Google Pixel phones have the most amazing cellphone cameras out there. They have amazing HDR, Amazing Portrait mode, and amazing colour reproduction. And all these features are achieved with a Single camera, And all the magic happens in the software itself. And the camera App, is exclusive to the pixel devices. Not the hardware, The software.
This year google introduces some more features like the
Top shot that let's user chose between frames to get the perfect shot. Or the
Super resolution zoom where the software takes different photos using the hand movement, combines them to make a better resolution photo for better digital zoom. And the new feature called
Call Screening where Google Assistant can take the call and talk to the caller while you sit back and look at the transcript.
All of these features are software features. But still they will only be available for Google Pixel 3 series, and will not come as a software update in Google Pixel 2 or the original pixel. I do understand that some of these software feature might require hardware support. I also know that many hobbyist developers ported many of these features for older phones, that makes me wonder was it really impossible? Or it's just software discrimination?
iPhone XS, XS Max and XR:
Apple released their new iPhones a few weeks before the launch of Google Pixel phones. They were again, not too different from their last year's flagship the iPhone X. Those phones came with some new camera features too. One of the significant features was the ability to adjust the amount of background blur in portrait photos. When the feature was announced, I thought it would come to the iPhone X too. But after I got iOS 12 update, I saw that the particular feature was missing. Even the single camera iPhone XR will have the feature. I wonder why didn't they add it in the iPhone X.
Mac OS Mojave:
I have a 2011 Macbook Air. And a 2015 macbook Air. Both can run the same software application. While the 2011 version is slightly slow, but still all the applications run just fine. But the 2015 Macbook got Mac OS Mojave while the 2011 Macbook didn't. But some good people ported it for the older Macs by modifying some of it's components and it works fine on my older macbook. That makes me wonder why didn't apple do it?
To sum up:
All these observations made one thing very clear to me. Maybe tech companies are not all about the latest hardware specs anymore. It's a lot about software that runs exclusively on the latest flagship. If the hardware spec doesn't intrigue you, maybe software specs will.Giants started the trend, maybe other companies will soon follow. Not sure as a customer how I feel about this new trend. When I buy a product I expect the vendor to provide me updates to make my product as better as possible by providing meaningful updates. When I pay, I pay for the updates too. Not sure if it's too much to ask.