Cell phones — not really supercomputers

It’s very common to compare today’s cell phone computing power to that of the Apollos capsules. While that comparison is fun and verily valid from a transistor point of view, it loses a lot of it’s sparkles when you are a maker.

I do a lot of things where I’m trying to swap my phone for things which I commonly do with my desktop. This is not at all normal. 99% of all people will never run an FTP server, web server, on IoT store and forward, etc from their phones.

But it does illustrate just how crappy these little “supercomputers” really are. With just a few clicks I can drain the entire battery of my phone in 10 minutes by forcing the phone to simply transmit while computing. After a short time it will tell me the battery has over heated and even plugged in it will drain down.

While the modern phone is truly a technical marvel, they are super crappy computers — tethered to ultra-craptastic batteries they have become very very good at what they do. But only that. If you want to swipe right and left on content, then the phone is the computer for you.

If you want to use it as a mobile document store, filling it’s nearly 200 gigs of storage with your working documents and flow the content from desktop to phone and back, if you want to run servers keeping it all in sync, if you want to store and forward with built it routing and decision making independent of connectivity state? Well, then these devices have a long way to go.

Sure, are we clever enough to code around all these limitations — in a heart beat. But everyone knows that NOT CODING always trumps CODING. Even coders know that. Moderns phones still have us coding around their shortcomings.

I normally post on architecture, so why a rant on cell phones. The limitations above are important to understand because they imply that you must design your software to deal with these limitations from the beginning.

When I first started using my mobile to replace things I had traditionally done on the desktop it was a disaster. Phones are just not up to the task. But if you architect correctly, enlist the power of the cloud or your other internet connected devices, you can accomplish a lot.

This is important to understand because it’s not an easy mind shift to make. What’s needed to protect against the transient nature of a mobile connection probably has little to do with your business intent.

I love working with IoT and enabling mobile functionality, but it’s a very different playground than being a server jockey.

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