Despite the fact that the last event seems like only a few months ago it’s nearly time again for Mobile World Congress, as usual there are a raft of competitions around offering tickets to lucky entrants so I thought I’d collate the ones I’ve come across here.
For anyone unfamiliar with MWC, it’s an annual coming together of the entire mobile industry from network operators (MNOs), manufacturers such as Samsung, LG, Nokia, HTC, software and services companies like Google, and a whole host of companies making apps, accessories, etc. Having been once (see my MWC Impressions post), it’s quite an experience and well worth going if you can make it.
Anyway, on to the list – if you spot any I’ve missed please leave a comment and I’ll bump it up into the post.
- Appscend (you have to build an app with them to enter)
- TechWeekEurope (sign up to newsletter)
- Mobile Monday London (send in a reason why you should win!)
- Developer Garden (just a tweet)
- Click Software
It’s not always obvious when the open/closed dates are so I apologise if any of the above are no longer valid, please leave a comment if you find that to be the case and I’ll remove the link.
Today Ofcom released a report covering mobile phone usage in the UK, the report is largely aimed at determining how Quality of Service relates to consumer behaviour and how poor coverage affects the customer experience. The report covers voice, SMS, email, internet and video calling but I’m most interested in the mobile web and apps, so I’ll focus primarily on the Internet results. The survey was conducted in November 2012 and sampled 2,136 adults aged 16 and over from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The report shows that only 44% of consumers use the internet via their mobile phone and of those, this seems quite low based on personal experience but that could be down to bias from working in the technology sector. Of those people that use the Internet on their phone 50% do so more than five times per day (with 33% reporting 10+ times per day). The implication being that there is a demographic relying on their mobile for everyday tasks, especially when coupled with the result that 71% of people saying that it is important for them to use the internet whilst outside.
Naturally there is a skew towards the younger end of the market with 86% of respondents between 16 and 34 that use the internet doing so on a daily basis. Additionally whilst 7% of all users rated the ability to use the internet as the most important factor whilst thinking about their mobile operator this rose to 14% for the 16-35 age group and drops to 2% for the 55+ group.
Reliability is a problem for internet users with 47% being satisfied with their operator, this is poor compared to voice and SMS usage which received a 74% satisfaction rate. Furthermore 34% of consumers reported having experienced no signal/reception (10% frequently) and an additional 15% reported an inability to use the mobile internet.
In terms of non-Internet usage there weren’t too many unexpected results, the only surprising outcome of the survey to me was that 12% of respondents have used video calling and 25% do so on a daily basis – making 3% of all people using video calling on a daily basis. The full report (33 pages) can be found here: source.
I started the day at the App Planet exhibition in Hall 7 and whilst one or two of the stands were still busy setting up I started at RIM where they were demonstrating NFC and streaming media from Blackberry to PS3. I found the Blackberry guys to be typically bullish (always a little more so than you might expect) and their offering was quite slick but overall they lacked a ‘message’, especially when compared to their closes rival in the smartphone space: Nokia.
Having kept everything under wraps until after the press conference had finished Nokia really had something to show and the message loud and clear was: “we’re doing lots of crazy cool stuff”. Innovation was a strong theme including high-definition call quality, nano-technology and indoor positioning as well as the superb tie-up with Dolby for digital audio and the frankly incredible 808 PureView boasting so many features you have to double-take when you find out that it’s a Symbian phone. It was definitely good to see them back on form and if the enthusiasm of the staff is anything to go by thing are looking up and seriously, it’s gotta be hard to stay chirpy in a blue Where’s Wally outfit.
One interesting technology I saw was Clic2C, a print watermarking method that gives QR-code like functionality but without the ugly QR code despised by magazine layout artists the world over. Most impressive was the fact that it can work in newspapers which typically have a low dpi. The best individual app I saw was probably Runtastic, a fitness tracking app due to launch imminently which is available with a heard rate strap and receiver for around €60. Another app launching soon is Voice Over IP service Voxtrot, free of charge from handset to handset with PSTN calling coming later their USP compared to Skype is set to be call quality and address-book integration – interesting if it lives up to the spin.
I had an interesting chat with a guy from haptics company Immersion, if you’ve never heard of them you may still have used one of their products – they’re responsible for that little buzz when you press the on-screen keys on your phone. Their idea is to provide a sense of physical action when interacting with touch screen devices and some of the uses demonstrated were quite compelling though hard to explain in writing. The advances are being made in terms of response times, sensitivity (very soft to quite aggressive) and resolution (i.e. how close to your finger does the effect feel), this is great news for gaming though I am convinced that all kinds of apps can benefit from improved and varied user feedback mechanisms.
Down in Hall 1 things were much more carrier oriented With LTE testing gear and a phenomenal focus on small cell and femtocell technologies. One unexpected highlight of the day was SpareOne, an emergency phone that can be powered by a single AA battery with a reported standby time of 15 years (basically, the life of the battery) and a talk time of three hours on a single cell. Sure, it has niche uses and isn’t going to be supplanting the major handset manufacturers but it has the potential to make a massive impact on the niche it serves and will no doubt save hundreds of lives. Also down in Hall 1 were Opera, touting their Opera Mini browser – a great alternative to the stock Android browser and with the benefit that their proxy technology saves on bandwidth and makes content load considerably faster than other browsers.
Back to handsets, HTC were hanging with the carrier-grade boys but had a good showing with their new HTC One lineup and whilst I’d be hard pushed to explain the differences between the V, the S and the X some of the features in the range were impressive. As a photographer the burst mode shooting caught my eye, allowing you to take 5 photos per second which will be great for taking photos of moving subjects – parents taking photos of kids will definitely appreciate that as kids and animals rarely stay still. The Beats Audio addition is interesting and it adds a bit more “welly” but under the hood I’m not sure it’s anything more clever than the “BASS” button you used to get on old portable tape decks.
Well, that’s the bulk of my floor-walking for the day – time for a bite to eat and some shut-eye to prepare for tomorrow’s sights.
Just a short post to say that Veggie Phrases is now available on the Android Marketplace, you can read the details on AppBrain - if you’ve not seen the app before it’s a handy pocket phrasebook to help travelling vegetarians and vegans communicate their dining preferences when overseas and best of all it’s completely free!
I’ll follow up when I get the chance with a brief description of the process I followed but for now, please grab your phone and give it a try. Let me know if you have an issues, I only had a chance to test it briefly since I’m an iPhone user!