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Microsoft: ‘We have smart devices but use them in dumb ways’

Luke Johnson


Nokia Lumia 928

Microsoft has suggested that the smartphone market is leaving users behind, stating “we have smart devices but use them in dumb ways”.

Although as consumers we now crave the latest iterative updates to our favourite smartphones, tablets and wearables, Microsoft has claimed that we are not yet fully maximising the true potential of our existing products.

“These things are not phones anymore, we need to move away from that paradigm and that whole conversation,” David Coplin, Microsoft Device’s Chief Envisioning Officer said speaking at a Microsoft Devices event last night.

He added: “At least they are smart but the humans who use them, use them in dumb ways.”

Although smartphones have become an integral part of many peoples’ lives, Coplin has suggested that users are missing the intelligent services which will turn the individual features of their smart devices into a complete, unified assistant.

“I have in my pocket a device which knows where I am, where I am going and knows who I talk to and the things I am interested in, but when do we ever let the device use that information to deliver me a service?” Microsoft’s Chief Envision Officer asked.

“We have smart devices but we use them in dumb ways.”

He added: “We think about these things in entirely the wrong way. We think about them in terms of being communications devices. We talk about them in the context of phones. If we’re lucky we might use apps, but in reality most people are just doing email.

“We have to start changing how we think about these devices.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft believes it has the solution to this disjointed ‘smart’ experience.

“At Microsoft we these devices are increasingly the window into the digital world,” Coplin said. “We are building services that we hope will change peoples’ experiences so that wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, you are able to reach in to the very best of what the digital world has to offer.”

He added: “Once we are in the right place and we think in the right way about what mobility truly means to us, then we are able to go to the next level.

“Where we are going is in to a world of connected, intelligent services. For us, that means Cortana and it means a remedy for the fact that these devices can become smart.”

Read More: Nokia Lumia 930 review


July 16, 2014, 3:47 pm

You're joking, right? It's the software that is dumb not the user. When I can't share a picture taken on my Android phone with my wife's windows phone without plugging into a computer then I know something is seriously amiss. It would be better to concentrate on fewer features and make certain those features are intuitive and reliable than adding flakey new tech features that people try and then drop because it was unsatisfactory
A phone (or any tech for that matter) that did everything that it claimed it could do, easily and reliably, and lasted at least 10 years would be revolutionary!

Scott Humble

July 17, 2014, 12:05 am

NFC? Share it through cloud storage? Email it as an attachment?


July 17, 2014, 6:01 am

I think some of us realise that it is not "the device" which would know everything about us, it is Google or MS. Some of us are not yet comfortable with prostituting our privacy to that degree.


July 17, 2014, 9:02 am

I am.


July 17, 2014, 1:28 pm

It means the devices are still dumb. Sorry.


July 17, 2014, 3:25 pm

NFC doesn't work - there is an error message re: tags on windows phone - with my Sony Nex camera it starts the wifi connection (when touching the two NFC points together) and then a wheel just spins indefinitely after entering the wifi's password (Android + Windows Phone)

I'm anti-cloud because it so un-private

ditto email

Point is it should be dead simple to share an image taken on one mobile device with another. Bluetooth should have just done it right - why do you have to pair the devices? My mother or anyone non-techie is not going to persevere with that kind of nonsense. Simply choose to share, select bluetooth, select the device to share with (how many can there be if you are in the same room) and the let the receiver accept the transfer

There isn't enough thought put into software

Michael Hall

July 17, 2014, 8:07 pm

Yeah, the NSA are really going to care about your family photos and pictures of some tourist spots...


July 17, 2014, 8:27 pm

"how many can there be if you are in the same room"
Ha ha - I tried pairing my phone with a Sony hifi I was contemplating, in PC World. Had to scroll through screens of possible contenders!

But you are right. It really should be as accessible as passing the photo album around.

Ford did (still do, I guess), and excercise with their car designers where they put all those young turks in 'geriatric suits' which dulled their vision, numbed their touch and cramped their movement, so they would understand how not all their ideas were so great. They should do a similar thing, perhaps with a dose of mild 'dystechsia' thrown in, for tech designers.


July 17, 2014, 9:38 pm

they should get their parents (preferably mothers) to test it, if they can manage the tech it's good to go

Scott Humble

July 18, 2014, 3:33 pm

I haven't tried sharing a photo using NFC with an Android device but why would the Sony start a WiFi connection when you try to share via NFC? Either way, I can certainly understand your point.

For Windows Phone 8.1, the share feature is third party extensible. You could always develop an app that allows for the secure transfer of files between devices using point to point connections. Missing features can also be opportunities.

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