At MWC 2014, a slew of new Android devices were released. Some were great, others a bit odd. We saw new wearables, including some interesting moves by Samsung (more on that later), a push by open source operating systems and new opportunities for intelligent apps powered by supercomputers.
Mobile World Samsung
Having unveiled the Samsung Galaxy S4 at their own event last year, Samsung decided to use MWC as a launch pad for its S4 replacement; the S5. Fortunately, by all accounts, Samsung decided to avoid playing out how to use the device on stage. Whilst it provided many amusing moments last year, it was widely ridiculed by the media.
The new S5 is a better, faster, fingerprint-sensor-touting, water friendly upgrade to last year’s device. It comes with a newer, flatter version of Samsung’s TouchWiz interface and the same storage busting collection of built in apps that will make that external memory card a must for any owners.
More interesting than the S5 though are the wearables Samsung unveiled. The Gear Fit is designed for fitness users though it could well become more of a crossover wearable device thanks to its wide screen. Featuring a curved screen, the Gear Fit has four days of battery to make it last just long enough to be usable for many users.
It wasn’t the only wearable though. Samsung also announced an update to the Galaxy Gear, a matter of months after the release of the first device with the aptly named Gear 2. The new device is lighter and faster than its predecessor. The big news on the Samsung wearables is what they run. Samsung has ousted Android in favour of its own Tizen operating system.
They’ll be completely compatible with Android though it does mean that developers wanting to build for Samsung wearables will have to code for Tizen in addition to Android.
Last year, Samsung used MWC to launch Knox, it’s super-secure, enterprise grade technology to secure their devices for companies and governments. Samsung announced that 7,000 Knox devices get activated each day and launched Knox 2.0.
Knox 2.0 brings a range of new features including:
- Two-factor biometric authentication, requiring both a password and fingerprint verification
- Knox Key Store, for generating and managing encryption keys inside Knox’s TrustZone protected environment
- Real-time monitoring to prevent unauthorised access to the kernel code
- System partitions
- Cloud-based MDM
- Knox Marketplace for listing and buying enterprise apps
Knox also has a deal with good Technology for support of its secure container and many other features which deserve their own blog.
The rumours persisted leading up to the show and Nokia didn’t disappoint in showing off their new Nokia X range of Android toting devices. Given that Nokia will cease creating smartphones this year with the device business becoming Windows branded; these devices fail to hit the spot.
Running a customised version of Android, with the look of Windows Phone and tied into Microsoft cloud services they’re just a bit confusing. Other than people wanting to get one of the last few Nokia branded devices to hit the market; or to check out a WinDroid style device we can’t see them staying around for terribly long.
MWC 2014 saw Mark ‘Facebook’ Zuckerberg deliver a keynote discussing his plans for WhatsApp (let the company get on with connecting people around the world) and for Internet.org to connect the next five billion people in developing nations.
Citing a report Internet.org commissioned with Deloitte, productivity in developing nations could be increased by as much as 25%, resulting in 140 million new jobs, lifting 160 million people out of poverty ang generate $2.2 trillion in GDP.
A challenge? Certainly. Doable? If Facebook will spend $19 billion on a service because of its high levels of engagement, yes.
Open Source Flurry
The list of open source platforms continues to grow with FireFox, Tizen, Salifish, Ubuntu, Jolla and Canonical and more all vying for attention at MWC. Many of them are all trying to focus on the low-end of the market. With 6.8 billion mobile subscribers globally, there is certainly a large opportunity to find niches and users. Whether any of these make an impact into the UK is another question.
IBM used MWC to launch a challenge for it’s newly-formed Watson Group to create consumer and business apps powered by IBM’s Jeopardy winning super computer, Watson. Watson is a cognitive system that can analyse, improve by learning, and discover answers and insights to complex questions from massive amounts of disparate data. The possibilities for tapping into Watson’s power are immense and will see a new generation of smarter apps and services coming to market.
With over 85,000 attendees from over 200 countries, this was the biggest MWC ever. It continues to demonstrate the importance of not only understanding the role mobile plays in our daily lives, but also how to utilise the power of the technology for work purposes.
The future is mobile, but you already knew that.