With MWC 2015 underway in Barcelona, the tech world is laser focused on mobile devices at the moment. Whether your mobile device preference is an iPhone, an Android handset or a Windows Phone device, your decision will have been swayed by a number of things -- price, brand reputation, knowledge of the ecosystem, and range of apps. Android may be the most popular choice at the moment, but this appears to be in spite of problems the platform suffers form.
A new report from Crittercism suggests that Android apps crash more frequently than their iOS counterparts. But this is not the only bad news for Google's mobile operating system; the report also finds that the fragmentation of Android persists.
BlackBerry shipped an insignificant number of smartphones last year, but the Canadian maker is not giving up the fight yet. Today, at MWC 2015, it announced a new mid-range handset, called Leap, and revealed an upcoming slider phone, which CEO John Chen referred to as "The Slider".
Leap is clearly not designed for the typical BlackBerry aficionado, as the smartphone is an all-touchscreen affair, with no physical QWERTY keyboard in sight. Such designs have not helped BlackBerry woo consumers nor business clients so far. The Slider though is the more conservative of the two, looking at it from the perspective of BlackBerry fans.
Yep, we know all about the NSA, thanks Edward. Yeah, it's possible (probable?) that a government agent somewhere is listening to or recording your conversations. And yes, even if you're not one of the tin-foil hat brigade, there's a danger that someone could tap into your phone. But you don’t have to be paranoid to want security; there are plenty of companies and enterprise customers for whom security is of the utmost importance.
While much of the news coming out of MWC 2015 has been dominated by Microsoft's Lumia 640, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge, and tablets from Sony, there's always room for something a little different. Following on from the security-focused Blackphone, Silent Circle used the Barcelona event to announce the follow-up -- the Blackphone 2.
Every mobile operating system would have you believe that it has the best built in keyboard. It's clear that plenty of people disagree judging by the number of alternative keyboard apps that exist in the Windows Phone, Apple and Android stores. Sometimes even the best software keyboard isn't good enough, but few people are enamored with the idea of carrying around a full size Bluetooth keyboard.
There are numerous mobile keyboards that are particularly suitable for use with smartphones and tablets, and today at MWC in Barcelona, Microsoft threw its hat into the ring with the Universal Foldable Keyboard. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to a large money wallet, this svelte device connects via Bluetooth to whatever mobile device you happen to be using -- including the newly announced Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL.
It was something of a poorly kept secret, but this morning at MWC Microsoft announced the two latest additions to its range of Lumia handsets. News of the Lumia 640 and Lumia 640 XL had already crept out over the weekend thanks to a slightly premature news release that was later pulled, but now the handsets are official and "keeping you prepared for anything".
These may be fairly low-end phones, but there's one thing the handsets are prepared for -- Windows 10. The 5-inch Lumia 640 and 5.7-inch Lumia 640 XL will arrive with Windows Phone 8.1, but are in line for a Windows 10 upgrade. To increase the appeal of the phones, Microsoft is throwing in a one-year license for Office 365, 60 minutes of international Skype calls each month, and 1TB of OneDrive storage. But what about the specs?
The announcements are coming thick and fast from MWC 2015 in Barcelona. As well as the Huawei Watch, Huawei also announced the MediaPad X2. As you might guess from the name, this is a tablet, but dual SIM support means that it is essentially a gigantic smartphone with no less than 7 inches of screen to play with.
And it's more than just the dimensions that are supersized -- the 2.0 GHz Kirin930 64 bit octa-core packs quite a punch. Being a brand new device, it's little surprise that Android 5.0 Lollipop is found pre-installed, and this is supplemented by the third version of Huawei's own Emotion UI. But there is much more to this phone/tablet crossover -- perhaps the first device to genuinely justify the horrific portmanteau phablet.
Some advice for HTC and other mobile device makers: You need to adapt your PR strategy to the modern web. Seeding devices to so-called professional reviewers is a lose-lose strategy. There you should take cues from Motorola, which marketing strategy, while by no means perfect, depends more on the many rather than the few.
Today, as expected, the HTC One M9 launched on Mobile World Congress Day 0. I am struck by two early reviews, which couldn't be more different in their assessment—and one surely is quite damaging to perceptions about the smartphone: "HTC One M9 hands-on: Improved craftsmanship, camera, and HTC Sense are compelling" by Matthew Miller for ZDNet and "HTC’s One M9 is the world’s most beautiful disappointment" by Vlad Savov for The Verge. Miller had the device for a day and Savov for a week. Neither narrative is ideal for HTC, although ZDNet's is closer to identifying benefits that matter, as opposed to The Verge highlighting features that aren't.
Starting in April, IKEA will start to sell furniture with integrated Qi wireless charging points. The Scandinavian flat-pack furniture store, famous for the likes of the BILLY bookcase, plans to launch a range of home furnishing in North America and Europe, before extending the rollout worldwide.
You might expect that sofas would be a natural home for wireless charging -- just pop your smartphone on the arm so it can power up while you watch your favorite shows -- but in fact it is tables, desk and, surprisingly, lamps which will boast the feature. It's not just phones like the Galaxy Note 3 and Nexus 5 that can take advantage of wireless power, but also tablets like the Nexus 7.
Although smartphones are commonplace in the developed world, there are still plenty of people who don’t yet own one, and they are still far rarer in developing nations.
However, smartphone growth is on the up, and according to the latest findings from Strategy Analytics’ WSS (Smartphones) research service, the number of global smartphone users reached 2 billion in 2014.
The average smartwatch relies on a smartphone to show relevant information. Those notifications, emails, messages, directions and the like are not pulled from thin air, after all. Making such devices pretty much useless when, for instance, the smartphone runs out of juice or is not within pairing distance. This is where having a cellular radio inside can make a huge difference.
LG is among the few vendors that sees just how useful cellular radios can be for smartwatches, as today it announces a 4G LTE version of its recently-unveiled Watch Urbane Android Wear smartwatch. Unlike the original, the new Watch Urbane LTE -- which rivals Samsung's Gear S -- runs LG's own Wearable Platform. The South Korean company is touting it as "the world’s first LTE-enabled smartwatch".
Samsung has announced that it has started mass-production of 128 GB ultra-fast embedded memory. Described as an industry first, the memory is based on the Universal Flash Storage (UFS) 2.0 standard and is 2.7 times faster than the commonly used eMMC 5.0.
With performance of 19,000 IOPS (input/output operations per second), the memory offers sequential read and write speeds comparable to SSDs. Despite this, the memory draws half the level of power of existing mobile memory.
If you curse the speed of your mobile data connection, prepare to shake with fury, turn green with envy, and yearn for a time machine. Forget 3G, forget 4G; at the University of Surrey in the UK, researchers have harnessed the power of 5G to establish a data transfer rate of one terabit per second.
At this speed it would be possible to download a Blu-ray quality video in under a second, but it's likely to be some time before we have the chance to experience these sorts of speeds via our handsets.
The vast majority of consumers who embrace Windows Phone buy low-end smartphones, so it should not come as a surprise to see manufacturers launching even more inexpensive devices running the tiled operating system. After all, as I said a few months back, Windows Phone is synonymous with the low-end.
The latest such offerings come from Kazam, TrekStor and Xolo, vendors which may not have established brands across the globe, but which are better known in their home markets, UK, Germany and India respectively, for their affordable solutions.
The use of mobile devices for business presents a new set of challenges both for IT departments and the broader enterprise. This is leading many companies to turn to enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions to secure their data and devices.
But how effective are enterprises at looking after mobile data and how will they need to adapt to the needs of new legislation? We spoke to Ryan Spence, Director of Enterprise Mobility Management for managed service company MOBI to find out.
Samsung has not yet officially announced the successor to Galaxy S5, but we all know that the wait is almost over. The unveiling is scheduled for March 1, during the first Unpacked event of 2015. What we do not yet know is what the new device looks like.
So far, teasers have only given us vague details about its appearance, as Samsung has tried to keep as much as possible for the main event. However, T-Mobile has decided to expose more of Galaxy S6, releasing a teaser which shows the side of the upcoming smartphone quite clearly. And it looks awesome.