MWC 2024 was all about mobile technology that meets our needs

Mobile World Congress, like any good trade show, tries to give us the best it can now and a vision for what comes next. That translates into many questions, especially about the future of telephones, such as:

“What like telephones, but controlled with your eyes?”

“What if phones, but make them fashionable?”

“What like phones, but on your face? Or in your car?”

“What if phones change color for no reason?”

Honestly, this is the stuff trade shows are made of, and I absolutely love it. Where else do you see a transparent laptop? Definitely not at Best Buy.

But this year’s show seemed to focus on one specific question: What does it look like when our mobile technology bends itself to fit our lives a little better? I’ve seen many answers to this question over the course of a few days – from the extremely literal to the wildly impractical. And as expected, I have way more questions than answers about all of this.

The user interface also changes as you interact with it: tap a search result and ask for a video, and it will respond by adding a video module in the middle of your results page. No jumping between web pages or apps; it all just flows onto a single page. Yue explains this by comparing it to the early mainstream Internet, where instead of starting with Google and just searching for what we needed, we went to Yahoo and searched the subject categories and moved on to find what we were looking for.

No jumping between web pages or apps; it all just flows onto a single page

That seems very logical to me. Through assistants and things like Snippets, the operating system and search interfaces have gobbled up basic functions that you might once have used a dedicated website or app for. If I need to calculate currency conversion, I don’t download a special currency conversion app or, god forbid, practice mathematicsI just type it into Google or ask Siri.

It’s the same reason why many today’s students don’t think in terms of file structures like they used to: instead of navigating a folder with nested drawers, everything is just in one big bucket. An interface that generates itself around your needs feels like the next logical step.

Motorola’s flexible phone concept literally boils down to the same question. The device is not a final product and it is very unlikely that it will become one, but Bendy Phone (my name, not Motorola’s) is a kind of metaphor for what wants to achieve: what if our mobile technology wasn’t so rigid ? ? What if it could change shape and adapt to what we need at that moment?

No Bendy phones were damaged

Bending the Bendy Phone felt wrong every time I did it. Phones are more durable than they ever were, but we’re still used to taking care of them to some extent. When you pick up a phone and press your thumbs into it until it bends back, it feels like you’re doing something you shouldn’t be doing. But it worked and no Bendy Phones were damaged.

For the demo, Motorola paired the phone with an adjustable magnetic strap, so the phone can be worn on your wrist as a watch. It’s extremely difficult to imagine that this is the future form our smartphones will take, but it’s an interesting exercise. Plus, I love a bit, and boy, is this phone ever committed to that bit.

The Galaxy Ring – not to mention a phone – was one of the big stories to come out of this phone-focused show. But it is mobile technology in the true sense of the word, and it is a promising extension of the smartwatch that is less intrusive and better adapted to everyday life, for people who want such things.

The concept that wins could be a mashup

Ridiculous technology demonstrations aside, it feels like we’re at a turning point in mobile technology: our Yahoo era is coming to an end. Our phones and wearables should integrate better with our daily lives, right? However, there is no clear winner yet, there are just many competing views.

The winning concept might be a mix of things I saw at this year’s show: wearables with lasers, AI-powered assistants, phones with fluid interfaces, and screens that bend. For now, we saw some cool tech at this year’s show, and I think we’re forgetting that gadgets can be ordinary pleasure.

What comes next is hard to say. But I have plenty of questions in the meantime.

Photography by Allison Johnson / The Verge

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