How Mobile Devices Have Taken Our Multitasking to the Next Level

January 8, 2020 Naomi Hsieh

One device, multiple tasks

We’ve covered how mobile phones have enabled us to make the best use of our micro-moments, but another byproduct of the increasingly mobile world is the prevalence of multitasking.

Multitasking has been a big part of the computing world since its inception - to get things done efficiently, technology adjusted to allow us to run multiple programs at once – for instance, on the device you’re reading this on, you can simultaneously search on Chrome and message co-workers on Slack.

The multitasking capabilities of our devices indicates a clear shift in behavior. Before it was added to iOS, entire apps were built solely to address the need for split screen multitasking on iPhones. Split screen was added as an Android feature with Nougat in 2016.

Beyond the capacity of one device, mobile itself added a whole new level to our multitasking abilities. Technology evolved to be smaller and more powerful, multiplying our ability to multitask with the number of devices around us. We’ve grown used to running multiple processes simultaneously – and with today’s ubiquity of smart devices, particularly mobile, our multitasking potential has grown past the confines of a single CPU.

Multiple devices = even more multitasking

So, we have the ability to multitask within one device – but how many people own just one device? Studies show that today, there are an average of 8 networked devices per person and that figure is expected to grow to 15 devices per person by 2020.

Our attention has outgrown single devices – we are now multi-device multitaskers. About 88% of people use a digital device while watching TV, with an overwhelming majority of them using their second device to reference information, message, shop for related products, and share their thoughts about a program’s content on social media.

This isn’t anything new of course – we talk to people as we eat, shop, and watch shows/sporting events. The social component of multitasking is well engrained in us as a society, but now with mobile, we have the ability to multitask wherever we are.  

Adapting to the Multitasking world 

With mobile as a now ubiquitous extension of processing power, consumers have a new thread for thought and action in their day-to-day lives. Marketers are already adapting to this multitasking world. Multi-channel campaigns are the new standard. Brands are gamifying sports events with challenges for viewers to complete through their mobile devices.

Even in the B2B space, webinar technology is ramping up capabilities to include multiple types of chat and interactive experiences to retain the attention of their viewers.

Rather than hitting multiple channels with the same message, it’s become imperative to use all digital channels in harmony – with mobile being key as the primary/secondary device. In any digital campaign, it’s important to keep in mind the role mobile can play to increase levels of engagement and retain participant’s attention. Mobile has become an indispensable addition to the processes we run in our day to day lives and should not be left on the sidelines.

About the Author

Naomi Hsieh

Naomi is a Product Marketer at Vibes, as well as a technology fanatic, market trends nerd, and efficiency-obsessed cat lover. Always looking to connect the dots between new technologies and existing markets, she loves exploring how mobile innovation adds value to the world.

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