While it is easy to think of touchless smartphones as some sort of regression in the mobile world, but some people value physical keys. Sure, devices that require no touchscreen unput are not set to sweep the market right now, but they are already available and growing. It now seems Google is preparing Android to join the innovation.
For what it's worth, while touchless mobile tech seems distant, around 0.9 percent of the current OS market is held by KaiOS, a company that makes non-touch software for phones. That's a small amount for sure, but consider two things:
- 9 percent is more market share than Microsoft, for all you still rocking Windows Phone handsets
- There are billions of mobile devices in the wild, 0.9 percent still represents a lot of hardware
It is also worth pointing out that touchless technology does not mean some sci-fi-like navigational system involving head titles and eye movements. No, we are talking about good-old physical input, such as through a keypad.
Google seems to be awake to the minor splash KaiOS has made and is said to be working on a touchless version of Android.
Of course, Google is the biggest name in the mobile software market, so this is signifciatn. Firstly, KaiOS will have major competition, and secondly Google can help push touchless tech further.
9to5Google discovered a commit on Chromium Gerrit source code that shows Google is prepping the browser for keypad smartphones. As you can see in the screenshot above, Chrome looks mostly the same as it would on any smartphone, however the system icon has been moved to the top left corner.