The future of phones? It’s all about context

But all this is kept 'in the cloud'? They're spying on your data?

Yes, but the winds of change are in the air. Thanks to the Snowden revelations, people are very concerned about privacy these days. Apple makes a big deal out of the fact that it doesn't rely on capturing personal data for its products and services, and a recent Ipsos MORI/Kings College London report says that Britons value data privacy very highly. A massive 70 percent said that they'd punish a company by not using it again should it lose their personal info, compared to only 40 percent who would protest over excessive executive pay. How swiftly we forget, huh?

Quite. But the thing about the cloud is that it's so convenient

For the time being, yes. Uploading information to a search engine's servers and allowing it to do the processing is easy and fast. But it won't always be that way. Intel recently showed off an Atom-powered phone that could do voice recognition locally (currently Google Now and Siri uipload voice files before deciphering them), which is a start. Akani Maluleke, a sofware engineer at global consultancy ThoughtWorks, says that improving phone power is great for privacy. “Soon, you'll be able to do most things -including contextual information - locally on your handset,” he says. “So it's all of the convenience of the cloud, but with much more control.”

More after the break...

Brilliant. Where's that app?

On its way. Maybe. The thing about contextual search is that it's expensive, but companies like Google like it because it reveals a lot of information about you that can be used to tailor advertising. And it doesn't work with information from just one person either: like voice recognition in Siri and Google Now, the more data you have about more people the better you can train software to search. Amazon's recommendation system is a great example of this – it bases book recommendations on what people with tastes like yours have bought, not an expert's opinion.

So ultimately, the human race is destined to be nothing more than drones following a software algorithm’s decision about where we should be, and what we should buy, and when?

If you want free choice, buy a map.

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