Streaming Software

By Mark Nuyens
5 min. read📱 Technology

At approximately the age of 12, a significant shift occurred in how I consumed media. This was a time where many of us, myself included, were used to downloading media, patiently waiting for files to be delivered onto our computers. Then, one day, Windows Media Player introduced me to the concept of "buffering" video content. This allowed a movie to start playing while it continued to download in the background. The logic behind this was actually quite obvious: why not enjoy the available content while the rest trickled in? Little did I know, this would give birth to a revolution in digital content delivery, now commonly known as streaming.

Fast forward to today and streaming has become an integral part of our media culture. Through the years, platforms like YouTube, Netflix, and Spotify have mastered this technology to provide a seamless and responsive user experience. By processing only the parts of media that are already available, they conserve resources and offer uninterrupted enjoyment. But like any innovation, it took a while to get it right, as illustrated by The Playlist, a miniseries about the history of Spotify.

However, streaming isn't limited to passive content like videos and music. It's been pushed to its limits, notably by Google with its Stadia gaming platform. This ambitious endeavor aimed to stream complex and highly interactive games over the internet. Unlike traditional gaming consoles, where the game is played locally, Stadia only required a robust and lightning-fast connection, a controller and a screen. While promising, Stadia was short-lived, leaving us to wonder why Google abandoned the concept prematurely. In my opinion, this was a missed opportunity to revolutionize the gaming industry.

With gaming seemingly ruled out for streaming for now, it lead me to think: what about other domains, like software? Although new and powerful smartphones, like the recently introduced iPhone 15, are equipped with cutting-edge chips, many users, aside from professional content creators, might not fully utilize this processing power. Instead, what if your smartphone doesn't require extensive local processing but instead relies on a stable internet connection to access applications and operating systems remotely?

Imagine a world where even the smallest internet-connected device becomes a gateway to a advanced cloud-based computing environment. Users could seamlessly tap into this remote world of interactivity, accessing a variety of software solutions without bearing the computational burden themselves. This could democratize software development, lower device costs, and allow effortless switching between software environments.

Interestingly, the groundwork for this concept already exists today. Services like ChatGPT have demonstrated the potential of decentralizing computing power. Users don’t need to own supercomputers; they simply send requests to huge server farms, which do the heavy lifting and return results in plain text. This showcases the potential of making computing power readily available through web browsers or lightweight applications.

In conclusion, this form of software development deserves serious consideration if we aim to transcend the limitations of hardware, reduce costs, and enhance accessibility for end-users. It paints an exciting future where all you need is a screen, an internet connection, and your fingertips to interact with your favorite software.