I’ve been an exclusive Apple hardware user for over 4 years (iPhone, iPad, Macbook Pro), and have never considered switching to another platform …until a few weeks ago. The presentations by Microsoft and Apple last week reinforced the notion the two companies are headed in very different directions.

In fact my initial reactions to both presentations were in stark contrast of each other. I was quick to judge the Surface Studio as an amazing, innovative (if not expensive) product, and was quick to declare my disappointment with the new Macbook Pro.

However, before I threw away all my Apple products, drove to the nearest Microsoft store, and declared myself a Microsoft convert, I wanted to reflect on how each company’s vision will affect my creative workflow over the next 5 years.

Here’s a glimpse into the not-so-distant future. My predictions are a based on the current state of each company combined with where I think the company is headed.

Apple’s vision is one where each of your devices serve a specific purpose in your workflow.

  • Apple Watch = Personal assistant. Alerts you when there’s important information. Your “key” into your world.
  • iPhone = On the go information. Quick bits of information. Communication heavy with emphasis on iMessage & social media apps. Your camera.
  • iPad = On the go computer. Most users can perform 80–90% of their desired work tasks on an iPad. Your personal notebook where you can easily write notes and sketch images.
  • Macs = Powerhouse computer. Used for traditional computer software programs such as Adobe Creative Suite & Autodesk products.

The focus is on each device to offer an un-compromised experience. This means each device emphasizes seamlessness over functionality. This creates a trade off where each device excels at the functions it was designer for, but falls short when trying to accomplish tasks it wasn’t designed for.

You’ll be transitioning between each device multiple times per day but you’ll have continuity between devices. This continuity will function similarly to how it does currently, but will continue to improve on it’s practicality. Eventually you’ll be able to seamlessly move files between the MacOS version of a software program to the iOS version (and vice versa).

In the end you’ll be utilizing 2–4 devices throughout your day, with each one serving it’s distinct purpose. The experience on each device will be excellent, but at the expense of having to use multiple devices to accomplish your workflow.

Microsoft’s vision is one where one device will serve all your technological needs. It will act as a communication device, a tablet, and a computer.

Right now that device is either a Surface Pro or Surface Book. However, in the near future I expect your Microsoft phone will be main device. Continuum will replace your need for a dedicated computer. Currently you can run a full version of Windows 10 with just your phone.

In the future though, I expect Microsoft to release new “Surface Slates” that are multitouch screens with Surface Pen support. However, your phone will provide the computing support. All you need to do is bring your phone near the “slate” and you’re ready to start working, similar in concept to Microsoft’s original “Surface”.

In the meantime though, you’ll be able to accomplish all of your technological needs with only two devices: a smart phone and a Surface Pro/Book.

In the end you’ll have one to two devices which are capable of performing all tasks in your workflow. Flexibility is the highlight of your device as you seamlessly transition from one task to another, without stepping away from the device. The tradeoff is your user experience may suffer for certain tasks because the device intends to be a ‘do-it-all’ machine rather than a ‘do one thing really well’ machine.

Do you envision the same future? What platform do you see yourself using 5 years from now?