Monday, March 4, 2013

Coverage at a distance, a final word

After doing some research regarding the European mobile technology at the Mobile World Congress, I found it very interesting to see what Spanish and European telecommunications companies are working on. 

There is a lot going on with trying to harmonize all global networks into one.  Companies all over are improving data transfer and accessibility.

Although I was not able to actually attend the MWC in Barcelona, Spain, I still feel like I learned a fair amount about new, innovative technology that was introduced through adequate research on various topics. 

I think that within the next five years mobile carriers worldwide will begin to merge into one mobile network.  While this has been talked about in previous years and was introduced again this year, I think more coverage was done this time around.  I think it can make the difference and in the long run will be more cost effective and efficient. 

Shazam: The Future of Mobile Advertising?

Shazam announced at the Mobile World Congress a revolutionary idea for advertising.  They are building a social TV business. Right now Shazam is primarily used for tagging music. When someone hears a song they can use the app to tag the song and find out more about it.
Now Shazam is teaming up with companies such as Fox to start tagging TV programs and large televised events.  Now when someone hears a song and tag it using Shazam they receive information from the marketers. For example once someone tags the song, Shazam releases second stream content related to the advertisers campaign. For example, tagging a song in the show can have behind the scene footage.
Advertisers are paying between $75k and $200k for a campaign that runs for a couple months. This new form of interactive advertising is called second- screen advertising. Shazam believes it will make them a multi billion dollar company. However, Shazam plans to remain ethical which means “ not enabling Coca- Cola to show its content when a Pepsi song is tagged.   I feel second- screen advertising is the future of advertising. I believe people will use TV advertising to catch attention of things and then use second screen advertising as the call to action. For example can you imagine seeing something you like on TV.  Your mobile phone describing it to you in detail while you watch and then allowing you to pay for it immediately. That is the future. 

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Applications at the MWC

The Mobile World Congress from the perspective of my topic, applications, seemed pretty expected. From Nokia's new applications to AT&T's focus on the developing side, there was nothing EXTREMELY groundbreaking. Each day, with a quick Google search based on this topic, there was never anything that jumped off the page as being revolutionary. The application environment has always been about entertainment of the consumer based on the rigid format of simple downloading-- always the same. And it shows that this has not and will not change, as is necessary and expected. What was introduced will satisfy the customer and make them happy and in the end, that is all that matters. Will these new applications have a huge impact? Probably not as much comparatively to the other big news and revolutionary tools introduced at the mobile world congress, but it will have an impact nonetheless. However, I cannot speak too soon. The application of predictive technology may have an impact on many people's lives but not on everyone's; there will be many who don't get the app. There are not as many snowboarders out there, nor are there as many Tumblr users as Facebook or Twitter-- However, these additions will make some people happy and that is, once again, all that matters. What is likely to come of the new technologies in the application world is that it will always use this technology to entertain. The ARO, though useful in creating the best product, the end line is always the entertainment factor. So I was not surprised and I don't really see any revolutionary changes coming along in the app world. Perhaps next year, I will be surprised. 

AT&T big winner of Smartphone Application Challenge

On the last day of the Mobile World Congress on Thursday, February 28, AT&T had a lot to celebrate. The company won the "Smartphone Application Challenge" at the 18th annual Global Mobile Awards. Within this category of 600 entries, it judges the participants based on criteria by application developers that enable improvements within the app community including downloading data, security and power consumption. The winner in this category was AT&T with their Application Resource Optimizer which is "a free, carrier-agnostic, open source diagnostic tool that enables developers to analyze the performance of their apps, which allows developers to create more efficient apps," according to the press release.  So, the award was not so much an app for consumers but more for developersDevelopers can download this tool in order to get recommendations to help optimize their application's performance thereby delivering the highest quality to consumers. After hearing about this award and AT&T's success, perhaps it will bring along even more help to developers. I think that sometimes they can look at just the bottom line and try to get things to consumers for the buck but this is an important system that deserves this award: why? because sometimes just creating the app isn't enough and you have to go back and look at it to always make improvements. With this, it makes it easier for developers to constantly build therefore we, as consumers, are reaping the benefits. 
For more information on this award and the ARO, go to the official press release and this video about ARO.
A screenshot from the ARO video promises that when developers use ARO to look at things like WiFi and the wireless network processor, these developers can make improvements thereby "great customer experience."

Finding Things Made Easier

Lester and Perry's RFID tags have come to life and this year's Mobile World Congress convention. Well, a less advance version. Stick-N-Find Technologies uses Bluetooth Low Energy to create homing stickers to place on items easily lost. 

Since the Bluetooth Low Energy is a battery saver, it allows the homing sticker to be quite small and light. This way it sticks quite easily to car keys, a wallet, IPod, and other personal items. Stick-N-Find Technologies says the battery life for these is about two years.

Pending on the amount of appliances transmitting Wi-Fi signals, the signal of the homing sticker can be picked up as far as 300 feet away but a smaller range is to be expected. The only downsides are the price, two of these homing stickers are priced at $50, and the accessibility; few devices can pick up the homing stickers' signal.

The way this works: you stick the homing sticker on a possession easily lost (lets use car keys,) then you register that homing sticker with your bluetooth device (you can only use the two latest IPhones, the latest IPad or IPod, or the latest smart phone from Samsung.) Once you do this, you can track the homing sticker via your smart device.

Your phone won't be able to tell you exactly where the homing sticker is, but it can tell you how close you are. The downside is that this becomes a guessing game. You realize you're 15 feet away from you car keys' homing sticker, so you walk to the left and you're 17 feet away. Now you move back to the right.

One helpful feature is the "leash" feature. If you "leash" your bluetooth device with the homing sticker, the sticker will start to beep or the device will show alerts when these two items are too far apart. Hence breaking that leash. Basically, you will realize when you leave one of the devices behind.

So you can't type into your computer "car keys" and have them shine blue like Lester and Perry's invention in Makers, but this invention from Stick-N-Find Technologies is a helpful substitute.

It is not the end

It is not the end

Mobile World Congress 2013 just ended.However ,the mobile technologies will never end. They are developing everyday, even every second.

During MWC, we see so many technologies which will influence our life in the future.We saw new phablets, such as Samsung Galaxy Noter 8.0. These phablets will definitely become popular.

As a Chinese, I also paid attention to China technology in the MWC.I am glad to see that China technologies are also emerging.Chinese mobile company designed chips for phablets.

It is a progress. I hope "made in China" will become "design in China."Our China really need more innovation in mobile industry. We'd better  creative our own mobile phones instead of making gadgets for Apple.

"Alwinner, a Chinese-based chip manufacturer, got in on the phablet action by releasing a quad-core processing chip specifically designed for phablets. While other competitors of Allwinner, like Huawei and ZTE, have already made quad-core processing chips; Allwinner has the most influence on the United States and could revolutionize the processing chips used for phones and phablets in the United States. "

I am sure these technologies will become true in the future and makes life better. It will also change the way journalists work.

Mobile World Congress--Smartphones Wrapup

It was a pleasure covering the Mobile World Congress from a distance. I learned a lot about fact checking and finding multiple sources for stories. I also learned that blogs can be credible and can give you good information. You just have to double-check the facts.

New smartphones were introduced at the Mobile World Congress. A theme this year was the size of smartphones. They are getting bigger! ARM, Mozilla, NVIDIA, Nokia, Asus, and LG launched new smartphones at the Mobile World Congress and it’s safe to say that the default size for most top tiered headsets will be about 5 inches. The 5-inch headsets will replace last year’s default size of 4.7-inch headsets. Some of the smartphones that were introduced ranged from about 5.5-inches to about 4.7 inches.

LG announced its new LG Optimus G Pro Android smartphone at the Mobile World Congress. The phone has a 5.5-inch full HD display screen.

The ZTE Grand S LTE Android smartphone was introduced at the Mobile World Congress. It has a 5-inch display screen.

The Huawei Ascend P2 was introduced and has a 4.7- inch display. Huawei is a Chinese manufacturer. 

Will the bigger smartphones catch on in the U.S? Only time will tell.

Accessories at MWC

Now that MWC is over, it is important to take a look back at the accessories presented to see if they will have a lasting impact on the technology world. I believe that it will have a real impact because new technologies were presented that could completely change the accessory world.

For one, the use of 3D printers, which I always thought would be just a myth, has actually surfaced and become a reality. This new technology will shape the future of phone accessories because companies will be focusing on how they can get customers to come to them to create this product, instead of competitors. This technology will drive people to come to stores to create this customizable case, instead of ordering a pre-made one off of the Internet.

The smartwatches are also an area that I believe will be incredibly impacting. Just think about it- you may never have to hold a phone up to your ear again. Instead, you can just touch your watch to answer a call. If that isn't incredible technology, I don't know what is. Since Apple appears to be jumping on this bandwagon, I have a feeling that this technology will blossom faster than the 3D printing will.

Overall, I am somewhat surprised at the technology presented at MWC. I knew that there would be innovations, but I didn't know that 3D printing, smartwatches, coaster size chargers, etc. would all be announced in just the few short days that MWC lasted. It is incredible how quickly innovation can happen. While accessories may seem minor compared to some of the other technology presented at the conference, don't be surprised if in the near future, everyone is wearing smartwatches instead of carrying around phones!

Mobile Infrastructure: Recap

With the Mobile World Congress wrapped up, now's as good time as any to recap what's happening in the mobile infrastructure business, and what to look forward to in the next few years.

The most important development, technologically speaking, is likely the rise of small-cell companies, providing similar services to carrier-operated LTE stations, but at far less cost than building full stations, and which are independently owned (for now, anyway).

But, it's not just the physical technology or the development of software that's going to be important in the years to come. What really matters is the slow, but steady definition of roles in the mobile infrastructure market. The development of cloud computing and the rise of the so-called, "over-the-top," apps are sucking up more data than can be comfortably supplied by carriers.

Now, the problem lies in who is going to build the infrastructure to provide the growing demand for data? That hasn't been decided, and the funding and building likely won't come from one source. To resolve these issues, the industry needs to work together. Right now, that's not quite happening, but app developers, mobile carriers and small-cell companies are starting to work together. And most importantly, they're starting to cater to the consumers that fuel their businesses.

Because that's what's most important: making sure that the consumer is able to access, at an affordable price, the new technologies that are becoming available. Sure, it's exciting to see greater speeds or more coverage areas. But, if the people who this infrastructure is built for aren't able to use it, then what use was its construction? Ultimately, it would be useless. So, in order for any of this to matter, these improvements need to be felt as far away as mid-Missouri.

And that's mobile infrastructure in a nutshell. Looking forward, there's a lot to be excited about. Thanks for sticking with us for the coverage!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

What MWC means for developing countries

And just like that, the Mobile World Congress of 2013 has wrapped up. Hundreds of new technologies, devices and gadgets are now on the world stage.

In the midst of the latest tablet and thing-a-ma-bob, it's very easy to get caught up in the rat-race of the industry, forgetting the impact these new items could have.

One of the greatest impacts new technology can have is on the developing world. The Mobile World Congress highlighted software this year that could spread healthcare via mobile devices throughout the world.

The Congress also brought forth a call to cation, how can technology change the way issues in developing countries are handled?

Though not a lot presented over the week was focused directly at developing countries, so much of the new technology could have second-hand repercussions in these countries. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

That's All Folks!

There have been quite a few developments in the 2013 Mobile World Congress concerning tablets.

I actually was not terribly surprised to see waterproof tablets etc. because I believe that issue was just one waiting to be conquered.

Improving on what we already have is the driving force behind innovation. It is just a matter of time before the general public can experience it. But at the rate this is going, it seems the world won't have to wait long.

The changes made should satisfy consumers until something else needs addressing. Emerging technologies makes everything faster, smaller and/or more convenient. It's all a cycle, really. I just hope we can keep up.

I'm sure developments won't stop here, but in respect to this year's Mobile World Congress, that's all folks!

Is your Cadillac the next best Smartphone?

If the 2013 MWC has taught us anything, it’s that your car might be added to your data plan in the very near future. General Motors announced in a keynote address that GM will be introducing 4G LTE to millions of the company’s vehicles as early as 2014. Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick will be the first brands to integrate this technology into their 2014 models.

We’re not surprised, right? Automakers and mobile developers have always worked together to minimize the use of smart phones while driving. GM’s plans, impressive and ambitious though they may seem, prove that consumers do demonstrate a need for a car that is just as connected as any smart phone.

The automaker paired with AT&T to bring consumers 4G wireless hotspots at a price that has yet to be determined. The best part? You can add grandma, Uncle Mike, the kids and your brand new Chevy Malibu to your data plan. Wait for the excitement to set in. The fast-paced innovation that is going on in the auto industry is something we should all be experiencing.

“Our vision is to bring the customer’s digital life into the car, and bring the car into the customer’s digital life,” GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky said at a press conference in Barcelona on Monday.

So if GM can now offer us unrivaled battery power – and horsepower! – the long term evolution of a connected car seems to be at the forefront of a consumer’s thinking.

Unfortunately, in the world of mobile and in-car technology advancement, luxury was the name of the game. Auto companies had yet to expand to entry-level vehicles, though the market is huge. GM is looking to change this by reaching middle-range cars for the masses. In a MarketNews report, Girsky called this a “democracy to mobile wireless.” Well put, Mr. Chairman. 

Look to GM for long term, built-in technology independent of your phone.

Wrapping up Bluetooth from the MWC

After covering Bluetooth and hands free devices at the Mobile World Congress over the last few days, I gathered that the market for Bluetooth devices has changed but the technology is still finding its way into all different areas of the technological world. From new devices such as the smart glasses revealed on day one, to the inhaler with built-in GPS and Bluetooth, the Bluetooth industry is still alive and well.

The market for hands free devices seems to be dwindling with everyone's focus on smartphones and tablets and what not. The main drive I saw for hands free devices was to connect to smartphones and give a different interface, such as with the Vuzix M100 Smart Glasses. The new technology seems to be all about the smartphones with hands free devices developing to match that technology or give users some kind of alternative.

The devices that I found with Bluetooth don't seem to be groundbreaking or revolutionary in the technology industry, but it was interesting to see how many different ways people can use Bluetooth technology to connect to things. I thought the Bluetooth inhaler was crazy but very interesting the way it both measures the usage and can combine with other inhalers to compile data to see where they are used most and pick out places that people with asthma may have difficulty breathing. I never would've thought in a million years to put a GPS in an inhaler, but now that it's out there, it works. I guess that's a statement on the world of technology today. You don't know what you're missing in a product until you connect it to the internet.

That's a Wrap: Mobile Commerce at the MWC

It was a busy week for all at the MWC in Barcelona, but in particular, the mobile commerce industry. Visa and MasterCard took centre stage, partnering with Foursquare and rolling out new forms of online payment. But the real work is yet to come for these titans of commerce; now that their new products have been introduced, ensuring that they can be safe, effective, and easy will be the key. If they can demonstrate to consumers that their new products are, these new technologies will take off.

I was surprised by how much Visa and MasterCard revealed about their plans. I was anticipating vagueness, with the understanding that the MasterPass, for example, was still in the works. Instead, we learned everything about it. Similarly, we learned all the details about Visa and Foursquare's new collaboration. I think of all the innovations in mobile commerce we saw this week, that one is the most interesting. Foursquare/Visa has the potential for greatness, or the potential to flop. It's in the hands of the marketing executives now...always a dicey proposition.

It's been a pleasure covering this year's MWC, especially from a distance. The distance gave me a unique perspective that I appreciated, and hopefully, so too did you, the reader.

UICC cards help Telefonica in its LTE pilot at the MWC

VALID, one of the top technology solutions in the world, helped Telefonica, the number one Spanish broadband and telecommunications provider, launch its LTE pilot at the Mobile World Congress using Release 8 UICC cards.

UICC cards, Universal Integrated Circuit Cards, have standardized slot cards that allow a subscriber to easily transfer over an entire wireless account from one phone to another.  One's address book and text messages will also carry over.

File:Sim card.png
(Photo Credit: Salim Fadhley)

PIN codes are used to protect the content of the card: one PIN for normal usage and another for specific functions.

Telefonica selected the UICC card due to these key components:
  • Authentification for IP networks
  • Authentification for different Radio Access Network
  • Stores critical information like location information or EPS security
  • Standardized ICE (In Case of Emergency) user information
    • blood types
    • allergies
  • Improved toolkit functionality
These cards have been made available for mobile operators worldwide and after its usage in the Mobile World Congress, more and more countires will begin to see its benefits.  

Samsung Apps

Samsung had a lot of app discussion during the MWC the "S Pen" was one app that is being developed.
Here is the general idea of the S Pen app from the Mobile World Congress site:

Facilitating creativity in your app; S Pen SDKS Pen SDK provides the necessary functionality to take awesome advantage of the S Pen. By using the S Pen SDK, you can easily add S Pen functionality to contents in various categories ranging from drawings and memos, to business, education, and B2B applications. By using the rich features of the S Pen, which goes beyond just an input device and captures the touch of professionals, you can make your apps more useful and attractive. And UX scenarios in this session can help your contents become more valuable than ever.
I think tablet and smart phone apps like these will only continue to get bigger and better. I've seen smart phones and/or tablets where you can handwrite notes or anything with the pen and it shows up as a clean typeface. This allows efficiency and more time available for journalists. I think that is the most important feature about apps. They should make some kind of process more accessible and also more efficient.

Stick n Find

This probably falls under both Apps and Accessories, but one technology that was shown at the MWC was the Stick n Find. The Stick n Find is uses bluetooth radiotechnology to locate missing items. This includes keys, wallets, etc. I understood that if these items get separated from you, a buzzing sound is set off and your smart phone is able to track them. This is something that could've really come in handy for me during my college years!! Here is some more info:

The first function the app offers is a simple radar screen that approximates the distance - but not yet the location - of all the paired Stick-N-Find stickers in range. The technology does not yet allow the app to determine which direction the lost items are in, so users have to start walking while watching the screen to see whether the device they are hunting for gets closer.

That article is from December but I first found the app on the best of MWC highlights. I hope new technologies serving as tracking devices start coming around more! 

Mobile World Congress 2013: Phablet Review

The 2013 Mobile World Congress wrapped up yesterday in Barcelona. This was the year of the phablet as HTC, Asus and ZTE all introduced new phablets. The two biggest current companies for phablets, LG and Samsung, also introduced new phablets in Barcelona. Here is a review of the phablets from Barcelona. (For more information about phablets click here.)

Bluetooth expanding into everyday products

A video from at the Mobile World Congress detailed some of the ways that Bluetooth is making its way into different kinds of technology. It may be technology that you don't normally associate with being a Bluetooth device, but it's Bluetooth nonetheless.

One product being advertised was an asthma inhaler with Bluetooth built in to record the number of times it is used and when it is used. It also has a GPS which records where the inhaler is used and adds it to a map database showing where other inhalers are used. This can help users see where inhalers are used the most, which may indicate a problem spot for breathing and help them avoid that area. It seems that everything in this day and age has a Wifi connection or something like that, so now inhalers are no different. It's a smart idea, but whoever thought that inhalers need a GPS on them was doing some serious forward thinking.

Another product highlighted in the video was a housing case for a battery connected to a cell phone app via Bluetooth that allows the phone user to control if the battery gives out power. This can be useful for any number of battery powered products, and can also be a big saver on energy and money if you utilize the product to make your batteries last longer.

The final product showcased in the video was a bit more lighthearted. It was an app connected to a light bulb that allows the user to change the color of the light bulb. It doesn't serve much of a function besides being a cool toy to play with, but it was still an interesting use of Bluetooth to connect various objects together.

As the video shows, Bluetooth is finding more unorthodox ways to put their technology into different products. Connecting phones to batteries, light bulbs, and inhalers are things that don't seem to be necessary, but Bluetooth technology gives new, cool ways to use these products and give them some added variety and functionality.

"I Know You" says your phone.

Everyone who has a smartphone has said the words "Damn autocorrect!" at least once in their life. But what they should be saying is "Damn keyboard!" because that usually is the root cause of why autocorrect gets it wrong. Little keyboard letters on smart phones make it especially difficult to key in even simple words. There have been many apps to help with typing, but it was at the Mobile World congress that some newer and better apps were unveiled to help with the typing on a smartphone problem.
One in particular is the SwiftKey and, as its name sounds, one can swiftly type with ease. This app is developed for Android phones and what it does is that it plugs into the different social networking sites the user may belong to, for example Facebook or Twitter, and literally learns from how you talk in those forums. When it learns and knows about you, it can predict accurately what you are going to say next. The longer you use it, the more accurate it becomes. Prediction technology is the new "it" thing in the world of typing apps. Phones want the competitive advantage have having the cutting edge on what makes it easier for the consumer, because that is all that matters. Others, like iKnowYou, also by Android, are using this technology to produce the best product that literally gets to know you, the consumer.
This app does bring to mind privacy issues that I can see, but really the people who would be buying it would know what they are getting into. I can already hear some paranoid person out there, droning on about how the computer is getting too smart and is now trying to understand us, until the ultimate "self awareness" and the machines take over (if only they knew about the even more advanced stuff that we don't know about yet). But nonetheless, there will be some sensible people out there who will absolutely embrace this technology for the innovativeness.
For more information, go here.
Also, for the video to see a demonstration of the SwiftKey, go here.

A screen shot from the SwiftKey video shows that this is the "keyboard that learns from you."

Nokia's view of the upcoming app world

Once again, Nokia had a lot to say when it comes to apps when theat y presented at the Mobile World Congress. When they presented at the App Developer Conference they unveiled new apps to benefit the Windows phone. Now they had a presentation in which CEO Stephen Elop said that he wanted the next billion people to be able to access apps, even if they have just a feature phone. "They want the same experiences as everyone else and they want it without using a lot of data" Elop said. He wants Nokia phone to undertake this new opportunity. With 300 developers selling over one million apps, It is no wonder he would want to jump on the app expansion plan. In my opinion, this seems to be in their best interest because then they can open it up to everyone, generating even more money. This is obviously the end goal, but it brings to mind the risk of it. People obviously have just feature phones for a reason, because they don't want or need apps. They could be beating a dead horse by offering them to people that don't want it. Maybe if they have it available to them, they will of course buy apps. I just hope they did their market research, as I am sure they did. 
For More information on what he said about things like other phones Nokia is working on and a cool "standby time" feature go here.
CEO Stephen Elop leads the presentation for Nokia at the Mobile World Congress.

New Apps

Now that the Mobile World Congress is at an end, there is good opportunity to go back and look at the Apps that were presented throughout the week starting on Monday.

Nokia was among the first to present at the App Developer Conference at the Mobile World Congress on its first day on Monday. The ADC is a set of presentations by different companies who talk about their ideas and innovations in the app world, including panel discussions and free displays of different apps for people attending. It is a look into what lies ahead for the mobile app industry. 
Nokia held the stage first and brought forth many new features for their Windows 8 smart phone to benefit their already impressive phone. These include an app to enhance the experience of snow boarding called Burton. There is also an app call JobLens which creates a lens for users in which they can look into available jobs that are specifically in that lens, or in nearby buildings. Plus more general apps such as Tumblr and Foursquare have been added and enhanced on their phones. There is a Nokia Developer Plan that they put in motion which offers tools to build new and better apps. And good news for advertising interests as there is a "Nokia Ad Exchange" which is finding ways to incorporate ads better in apps. In my opinion, this is invaluable as this is the million dollar question isn't it? How to profit even more from this booming market. How do we get people to notice and pay attention to our ads instead of just bouncing on or worse, being annoyed and being driven away. It is good that Nokia has a specific group working on this. Nokia's presentation was just the start of all the exciting things to come. For More information, go here

Marco Argenti leads the Nokia presentation at the Mobile World Congress