Can I borrow your iPhone?

September 21, 2021

At dinner last night we had another go at guessing what things our kids and grandkids wouldn’t believe about how we currently live.

A few new things came up like the idea that in some places on earth, you cannot access the internet. That and having to wait to download some files is a thing that we sometimes (although not very often) have to do.

A thought came out of that part of the conversation that I think is interesting. If we assume that internet connectivity and download speeds increase, you can start to think about our relationship to our personal devices. Already today, most if not all of my data lives in the cloud. When I had my laptop stolen a few years ago, it took half a day to visit the Apple store and then download all my apps, data and settings from a cloud backup. The same is true for my phone.

So as more and more information moves to the cloud and speeds increase, what is keeping me tied to my individual device?

Why can’t I pick up your phone, unlock it with my face and then start messaging someone as if it was my phone with my contacts and wallpaper and apps?

It’s an idea that feels pretty feels a bit strange today, but you can imagine feeling totally normal fairly quickly. Imagine the conversation with your kids: “everyone had to carry their own devices everywhere and if you forgot them or they ran out of battery you couldn’t do anything about it.”

The major blocker for something like this though isn’t the download speed and connectivity, but security. Apple stores your TouchID and FaceID data on a very special and very secure chip on the device which means that it is extra safe. Apparently.

So maybe this won’t end up happening and maybe our security and data will always be tied to our devices.

Cass just reminded me that when we were at school, this is how everything worked. There were 10 computers and you logged in with email + password and your data loaded. Then we went to more secure (and affordable) individual devices and now I’m wondering if we will go back the other way.

The security/convenience trade-off.