Last fall, we covered a couple related topics, the concept of “Android Fragmentation,” as well as the developing iOS/Android texting debate lodged at Apple for failing to adopt a new universal messaging protocol, “RCS (rich communication services),” which would make texting easier for everyone.
I concluded that article hopeful, pointing to the construction industry as a potential exemplar living up to the values instilled in “open-source software,” continually looking for ways to connect multifaceted teams through technology and data connectivity and drive the industry forward.
Good news, for Android and PC users to rejoice over!
Intel®, the leading microprocessor chip manufacturer, has released a new, pretty ground-breaking technology called “Intel Unison™,” which boasts it “easily unites PCs and Mobile Devices,” in its 2023 CES demo last month (see below).
We’ll unpack what Intel Unison is in this article and what it might mean for tradespeople, technologists, and construction owners, who may have been previously on the fence when choosing a mobile operating system (and the apps that these operating systems power).
Intel Unison, Unveiled at CES
"Intel Unison seamlessly connects your Windows PC and devices for a universal, easy to use experience,” begins Chuck Duval,l Technical Marketing Engineer for Intel, in his opening address at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where Intel unveiled their new “Unison” app last month.
In Intel’s product landing page for the Unison app, the company describes the app to provide integration of devices in “an intuitive one-time setup that “brings it all together on one screen.”
Intel Unison Features
- File Transfer: The platform claims to reduce friction when transferring files and photos "between your PC and Android or iOS device."
- Calling: The platform purports to facilitate the ability to “make and receive voice calls directly from your PC,” similar to how Apple users have long enjoyed the ability to take phone calls from their iPads and MacBooks via FaceTime.
- Messaging: Similar to iMessage, Intel’s Unison app aims to deliver similar capabilities to PC users, so, for example, Android users can enjoy the same luxuries of texting their friends with the “comfort and ease of a full keyboard and monitor!”
- Notification: The platform also boasts a phone notification feature, where users can enjoy the interconnected ecosystem feel where they can receive phone notifications from their PCs.
Isn't There Already an App for That? Intel Unison App Use Case, Explained
In a product review, YouTuber Beebom explains “This app is creating a relationship between Windows and the iPhone.”
Herein lies the traditional problem Android and PC Users have long dealt with: Lots of end users favor Apple iPhones over the Android ecosystem. In the construction industry, for example, according to JBKnowledge’s 10th Annual ConTech Report, Apple had a lock on 78.6% of mobile smartphone operating systems used by survey respondents, compared to 31.9% using Android. (We’ll contextualize this statistic a little later).
These users, however, may still favor using Windows-based notebooks (or it might not even be their choice, if issued a company notebook and device). While third-party apps do exist, to, for example, make transferring files from an iPhone to a Windows PC, the process leaves much to be desired, a clunky handoff that makes the disconnected ecosystems that much more apparent.
“With Unison,” he explains, “You can just drag and drop a file [from your iPhone to your desktop),” and vice versa, similar to how Apple users have long enjoyed the ease of transfers using AirDrop to send themselves files easily between their various devices, seamlessly connected in the Apple ecosystem.
Unison makes this functionality possible within the Windows-to-Android ecosystem, or even the iPhone-to-Windows (as we discussed in the above example), a rare sighting of software interoperability we haven’t truly seen between competing ecosystems before.
Additional Apple features the Unison app brings to Windows:
- Gallery feature within photos – if you delete a photo on the iPhone, it’s deleted from the Windows device via the Unison app connectivity.
- Messages – a game changer, if you’re using Unison and texting an iPhone user, it automatically uses iMessage without any setup, helping to solve the iMessage texting conundrum we’ve previously reported on.
An Interesting Precedent, Storied in Recent Technological Advancement
Intel is the leading hardware provider that supplies the microprocessor chips that power the notebooks and desktop computer products from the likes of Acer, Lenovo, HP, and Dell.
Up until only recently, Intel provided chips to Apple, but Apple ditched Intel, in favor of developing its own central processing units (CPUs), a move that has completely disrupted the computer manufacturing industry, and has even led to Microsoft looking to possibly follow suit.
Above: Apple Silicon performance specifications. Image source: Trusted Reviews
So, why did Apple leave Intel in the first place, ending a storied 15-year-relationship? Reporters note that Intel had “fallen behind on manufacturing,” leaving Apple’s products to languish with aging CPU technology.
Now, with the history of Apple leaving Intel, we have to wonder, is the development and release of Intel Unison a gut punch at Apple’s long-enjoyed proprietary ecosystem that makes it harder to leave, the deeper into the ecosystem you go?
After all, Intel hasn’t built their own ecosystem to directly compete with Apple, but rather they’ve created a “data connector,” serving to connect the disjointed ecosystems to give end users with a valid problem an elegant solution. We find it our imperative to offer end users greater control through data connectivity, hence why we can tip our hat to Intel (whether their aim was selfless, for the good of the industry, or purely their checkmate move).
Why Should Contractors and Construction Technologists Care?
Construction professionals rely on mobile devices and mobile apps to do work.
As the previously mentioned JBKnowledge ConTech Report found, a reported 90.9% of survey respondents were using mobile smartphones for “daily work purposes,” followed by laptops (82.8%), tablets (65.5%, and smartwatches (12.4%)—a pretty steady constant for device usage harkening back to 2016.
However, what’s telling—a key takeaway for the JBKnowledge team—is the change seen in the preferred operating systems (OS) of choice as the years have gone by. Once “technology-titan” providers, languishing as disruptors bring innovation to the space, fall behind.
The behemoth Blackberry, a once dominant force (controlling 50% of the smartphone market in 2011) had dropped to a representative .5% of the ConTech respondent’s chosen operating system in 2019, and 0% as of 2021.
The authors of the report concluded, “Blackberry is a fantastic reminder that no technology-titan is invincible. Meanwhile, Apple continues to devote time to security, testing prior to release, and creating superior products.”
The rollout of Unison may just be the kinds of software interoperability in the consumer products industries needed to inspire construction technologists to drive similar integration, possibly even rolling out Unison for companies who work with team members on different operating systems and devices.
We’ll be watching the development of Unison closely and tinkering with it ourselves—and we encourage you to do so! Could there be mobile device management (MDM) applications?
There are lots of possibilities, and we applaud the Intel team for bringing this kind of deep integration forward.