Mobile Tech in 2020

I said the other day that tech in 2020 is what dreams were made of back in my 20s.  The idea of using a phone to pay for things, use the internet, stay in touch, tweet to thousands of people and more was science fiction when I was 20 and yet today it feels like it’s almost there, just not quite …..

Below I’ve listed off some of the many things I’d like to see tech improve in 2020.


How It All Started?

First off, let me say I use an iPhone.  I know not everyone does but there’s hundreds of millions of them out there so I don’t feel too isolated.

Apple Wallet started off as Passbook and initially was a place to store things like tickets and loyalty cards.  The idea really kicked off when airlines started using passes to display a boarding pass with QR codes that could be scanned at the gate in lieu of carrying a piece of paper with you.

This is the time I knew great things were coming.

Sadly however great things didn’t happen fast.  2 years after the initial appearance of Passbook, Apple Pay was announced, although only in the US.

With contactless payments already thriving in Australia it seemed like a much better test bed than the US market where contactless wasn’t much of a thing at all.  Eventually Apple Pay started appearing in Australia with ANZ being the first of the major banks to take it up with others following slowly over the following years.

I was an early adopter with ANZ using Apple Pay for almost everything and ditching my physical card immediately.  In fact within a month or two of using Apple Pay I was confident enough to not carry my wallet and all and leaving it in the car in case I needed my drivers license during a traffic stop or for ID purposes.


How About Now?

Fast forward to 2020 and it’s easy to leave the house with just keys and a phone.  To be honest if I could install a smart lock on my rented unit even the keys might be optional.  Unfortunately my car probably isn’t going to be smartphone operated in it’s lifetime even if it is keyless just relying on a small fob.

Update: News of iOS 13.4 having a new feature called CarKey Api means RFID cars may soon be unlocked and started with your phone instead of the key fob.  That’s great cause my car has RFID.  Hopefully Toyota will support it.

I can make payments with my phone with all the banks I use which is a great plus.

I can travel anywhere on the Opal network through Sydney and beyond thanks the contactless payments now being accepted on all public transport.

I can shop and redeem reward points thanks in part to loyalty cards being barcoded and transferable to my phone.


How Could It Improve?

There is still a long way to go for technology to be perfect.

While you can make payments with Apple Pay, using your phone to go into the bank, or use an ATM is still limited.  Many banks offer cardless deposits and withdrawals with their apps so this is somewhat convenient but their are still limitations due to security etc.

Transport isn’t quite there.  While it’s easy to use Apple Pay to pay for transport in Sydney, the feature is limited in other locations.  In fact, Singapore is the only other city I have used a train by paying with my phone, although this was limited to Mastercard payments only.

It’s difficult to track transport payments as you need to either wait for the amount to come off your account which can take a few days, or use their apps or website to track usage.  This isn’t all that convenient either.  Still it’s good to see Apple Transit is being pushed out where your phone can be used to pay for transit without even identifying your face/fingerprint or even needing to be turned on.  This will be a while before it’s rolled out beyond the initial cities in USA and China but watch this space for something amazing.

There are rumours of a virtual Opal card which will work under Apple Wallet but I doubt it will be this cut and dry with it’s use being limited to an app or worse and as with any government initiative, it is always years away after many trials and changes and blah blah blah.

Much like the recently rolled out New South Wales digital drivers licence which requires you to login to the Service NSW app to show your ID.  The security features seem legit but there is more that can be done to make it’s use easier.  Other states are allowing users to limit what is seen, for example if you’re showing your ID to Police they will see all your details, but if you’re using your ID to enter a nightclub you can limit so only your photo and DOB is shown preventing your private details being shared with the bouncer unnecessarily.

The problem with half of this tech is the limitation of the imaginations of the developers and the corporations or government departments behind it’s implementation.

Rewards card are either smart or dumb, at the moment only Woolworths has a smart rewards card which lives inside Apple Wallet and will pop up automatically when your phone is scanned at the checkout.  The card shows your points and requires little effort to bring it up.  Whereas Coles requires you to open the Flybuys app on your phone and scan the barcode on a small reader under the ATM.  Not nearly as good.

In the future I’d like to see systems like the Woolworths Rewards card used more globally with more retailers.  I’d like to see smart things like digital receipts, automatically forwarded to either your email or an app once your loyalty card is scanned, saving tonnes of paper a year and keeping those annoying receipts out of your pockets and making them far easier to find when you need them.  I’m sure there are apps for this, but why not automate it based off Apple Wallet?

I can’t wait for the online city where I can find a parking spot just by checking my phone and know just where to go when I want something.  A connected network through one app rather than having to check Westfield’s app to find where the most spots are available in their carpark etc.

Singapore has a system similar to this, with digital signage around the city directing you to the nearest carpark and showing how many spots are available.

We are so close yet so far away.

It’s sad that Australia is so far behind the USA in innovation.  Either because big business is too scared to invest in Australia or just because Australia doesn’t really move that fast.

China has adopted smartphones at an astronomical rate, and they’re not waiting for hardware developers to enable features, their app developers are working 100 steps ahead with QR codes used for payment systems and apps that let you do everything from chatting to friends to ordering lunch or paying your phone bill.  We have a lot to catch up on.  We need to be moving past our neighbours, stop waiting for the USA to push their old stuff to us and move forward with our own ideas.




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