A few nights ago I sat down on my couch — the chaise lounge section of course — and got ready to start watching some TV. But the far lamp in our living room was turned on and from the spot I was sitting in that lamp casts a glare on the TV.
So it must be turned off.
That’s not a big issue either, because our living room lamps are connected to WEMO devices — no need for me to even move from my comfortable position. However, the WEMO app on my iPhone is buried in my catchall folder, so typically I have to search for the app if I need it. Again, only a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of life.
But the other night, I swipe over to the search screen and there it was — right in the suggested apps — WEMO. Holy shit. What bit of voodoo is this?
Fast forward to the next day, I hop in the car and start driving. My car has no bluetooth, instead I attach my iPhone via USB to play audio. Typically I have to search for the Music app at a red light to get things going. This time, not so. I swipe over to search and BAM, Music is right there being suggested. Things are actually starting to feel like the future for me.
Now, I am not sure how Apple is identifying my need for these apps other than to guess based on time of day, but the guess are getting more accurate. That’s really a testament to how predictable my life has become more so than magic, but I am going to choose to ignore that.
Because when I saw the WEMO app that night, I briefly had a stupid thought: “how the hell does my iPhone know I am in my living room”. It was a brief thought, but for a moment I was convinced some real magic was happening. Somehow my iPhone knew things that seemed technologically possible at this time.
After the thought passed, after I calmed down from the magic of my iPhone creepily knowing my routines, I thought about the future and I got a little mad.
Why is it that my iPhone can’t tell where I am in my house?
It should know. This should be a thing.
I walk into the kitchen and the iPhone is ready to show me recipe apps and timers. I walk into the living room and Apple Remote app comes up as does the WEMO app. Bedroom? Twitter. Office? It goes into DND. Bathroom? Pinner (obviously).
I have little clue how this might work in reality, but it cannot be too far off from being reality. We are already seeing shades of this with CarPlay, and with BTLE on Macs. Our devices generally know where they are, and if we can hone that accuracy in further and start integrating it with what is shown for suggestions — at this point home screens on our iPhones become ever more irrelevant and akin to a list of favorite apps.1
I would love to have options beyond the four on the suggested page we have currently. Perhaps two rows, where the first row works based on actual usage, and the second row is location based.
The first row would simply be a combination of the apps you have used the most in the past 2-3 days with a rotating spot for an app or two that you have been using a lot in the last few hours. (This is not how it currently works. I can tell you from testing so many content blockers there was a solid day where all my suggested apps were content blockers.)
The second row of apps would be location and context based. They would show things like the music app when in the car, or when you have “party” (or like events) scheduled in your calendar. List apps like Reminders or OmniFocus when you are at a store, or your desk. And the wallet app, for crying out loud, that would be there when you are at a store or an airport.
I honestly see this coming with advanced networking technologies and wireless charging systems. I don’t think this will come in the form of marking rooms with Bluetooth tags, but rather as part of systems that most people are likely to have or want already.
At the end of the day: I really just want my iPhone to keep suggesting the WEMO app to me when I sit down on my chaise lounge on my living room couch. I really just need my iPhone to remove more small annoyances from my life.
Hearted apps? ↩