How I learned to stop worrying and love my creepy smartphone

As our contextual information reaches the cloud, smartphones will get more personal and anticipate everything we want

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In the beginning, this creeped me out. The first time my phone figured out where I worked and asked if I wanted to drive there, I was taken aback. When it figured out I go to the same restaurant every weekend and told me in advance how long it will take to get there, my first instinct was to turn it off.

But the data is already out there. This induces a certain amount of paranoia, but banks and credit cards have been doing this for years, even if they haven't figured out that no one reads dead tree mail anymore. Switching off that functionality on my phone would just mean it wouldn't "display," not that it wasn't happening.

The overall convergence of data sets, GPS/location data, and social networking is still relatively new. At the moment, the actual user-side visible result is rather limited (it will take me 20 minutes to get to work if I leave now). It was made possible only recently by the consumer trend of ubiquitous computing and smartphones and the economics enabled by big data technologies like Hadoop and, just as important, the maturity of graph databases like Neo4j. For the moment, vendors are even limiting "third party" developer access to the APIs for the stuff built into the devices, but you can add context and anticipation to your apps today without Google's or Motorola's APIs.

Due to the novelty, the privacy and security controls are also limited. If the industry fails to address these issues, laws and regulations will likely limit the use of this technology. On the other hand, I also see opportunity in this area, now that public consciousness of the privacy threat is rising. I anticipate a new set of public-private partnerships and venture-funded startups that let users control their data a bit more.

I'm actually kind of looking forward to my phone telling me what recipe I was going to probably make anyhow and when to head to Whole Foods and pick up the groceries I'd have chosen, which will already be bagged and paid for. There will even be an impulse buy in the bag. As for anything out of stock, my Amazon drone will deliver it to my doorstep before I get home.

This article, "How I learned to stop worrying and love my creepy smartphone," was originally published at Keep up on the latest news in application development and read more of Andrew Oliver's Strategic Developer blog at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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