I was born naked and I intend to go out the same way, armed with nothing but a smartphone to swipe and tap my way through the modern world.
These days my wallet is overflowing with cash and cards. More cards than cash, sadly. Credit cards, loyalty cards, membership cards and identification cards along with a heap of receipts waiting to be filed or chucked in the bin.
Aside from those, the thing I never leave home without is my smartphone. My phone seems to become more useful every day. It’s already my calendar, address book, music player, camera, games machine, newspaper and sat-nav device. Sometimes when I’m bored, I even use it to make phone calls.
Grabbing these things before I walk out the door is my daily ritual, and I feel naked if I leave home without them, just like a cop without his badge and his gun. Actually there’s another thing to grab if you include pants, which I’m constantly reminded are important in civil society. But smartphones are becoming so clever that eventually I might be able to ditch the other baggage and just carry my phone out the door. With my pockets empty, even “pants-optional” could become fashionable again.
The next step towards Au Naturel Nirvana comes with Apple’s latest software update, which brings Passbook to iPhones. Passbook lets you store tickets, vouchers and loyalty cards on your phone. You can simply shove your phone under the scanner to board a plane, enter a concert or get your 10th coffee free at your favourite cafe. It’s going to be a sleeper technology, but it’s the next piece of the puzzle in Apple’s plans for world domination.
Unfortunately, Apple didn’t go the extra step and add near field communication (NFC) to the iPhone 5. It’s the short-range wireless technology that lets you swipe-and-pay. If your work is a little paranoid about security, you might already need to swipe an NFC pass to get in the front door. NFC is also built into some new credit cards. You might have seen them in action in the supermarket or at a petrol station. Simply wave your card near the terminal and you’ve paid. No mess, no fuss. It’s very liberating although a little disconcerting at first, not unlike ditching your pants I guess. Thankfully there’s a spending limit before you need to enter a PIN or sign for things, so someone can’t simply wave your card to buy themselves a new Ferrari.
NFC is built into Android and Windows Phone 8 smartphones, although they’re also a work in progress. But it’s not hard to see where things are heading. In a few years your smartphone will be your passport to the world, just like your wallet is now. It will take time for the technology to evolve and for people to grow comfortable with it. But as with many new technologies, the speed and convenience of using your phone as one key to rule them all will eventually win people over.
With that battle won, I’ll be one step closer to shedding my inhibitions and tackling the world armed with nothing but a smartphone.