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the 120Hz experience

This article was first posted on our Rows.com “tech” Slack channel on 2021-10-19.

Today apple is announcing their next-gen laptops and chips.

We will see, as it’s expected, new Apple silicon with many important improvements over what was gen1 (Apple m1). We will also see other improvements: I think mostly focused on screens (ProMotion/ 120Hz?) and cameras, with at least 1080p with better FOV, head tracking, better light handling with ML. Battery bumps can be there or not, depending on how much power vs. weight they want - these are Pro machines anyway. A big question is how powerful gpus will be, and if apple will continue the tradition of custom graphics sw (like Metal) or if they’ll support some other standards (DirectX OpenGL etc).

I think it’s important to reflect on these announcements and general industry trends seriously. The following is my perspective.

As more power is given to the Front-End, I predict that we will be seeing more responsibilities being handed to local algorithms.

At the same time, the more FE evolves, the more innovation will come to the BE too.

Some might think i’m relying too much on Apple for this view of the future. Quite the contrary. Apple rarely predicts the future. But more frequently than any other company, they are the creator of the conditions for that future. Mac GUIs, the mouse, ethernet, wifi, iPod, iTunes, iPhone, App Stores, iPads, Apple Watches are creations that apple developed or at least first unleashed at scale. And most of those became the basis of today’s hardware and software economy. As an example, our company Rows can be traced to the iPhone: the iPhone => a bigger market for apps => popularization of Massive-scale Apps => cloud providers that support that scale (AWS) => faster creation of software and the SaaS model => SaaS VCs doing investment in new productivity concepts => Rows.

In conclusion, I take from the Apple silicon efforts that that frontends are evolving to enable 120Hz experiences. That is spearheaded by native frameworks, and it will be impossible for apps to offer these new experiences while keeping tightly coupled FE-BE architectures. The most demanding and pleasant productivity systems should be the first to migrate to richer local experiences, keeping the cloud for storage, sync and collaboration. Within local-apps, It will make sense that a decent chunk will go the native route, to take advantage of platforms to offer multi-device, native-like experiences, while others will create hybrid apps ported from the web.

Let’s go!