Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cool Things Your Smartphone Will Soon Do

10:05 AM

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Smartphone sales are booming and this year alone nearly 920 million smartphones will be shipped, according to research firm IDC. In all, 1.5 billion smartphones will be shipped by 2017 and they will make up two-thirds of the worldwide mobile phone market.

Smartphones have become such a daily part of our lives that we use them for everything from email to instant messaging, online banking to mobile payments, watching videos to gaming.

But some companies have been building new features and software to take the smartphone revolution to a whole new level. The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last month was a chance for tech companies to show off some unusual uses. Here's our list of the coolest one

Have More Fun Driving
Listening to the latest sounds in your car just got easier.

Ford paraded its new EcoSport model at the World Mobile Congress. It offers a variety of functions, including streaming music via Bluetooth to each mobile device in the vehicle and voice activation for picking that perfect song at the perfect time.

And there's more: General Motors, Audi and BMW are all set to roll out 4G entertainment systems with their new vehicles meaning streaming your favorite song or video becomes that much easier and quicker.

Speak in Japanese

NTT Docomo won the best network product award at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona for an Android app that offers real-time translations, allowing Japanese people to speak to foreigners using their native tongue. Other languages such as Mandarin and Korean are set to follow, but the technology will only work with NTT Docomo phones.

The app uses cloud computing to leverage the relatively small processing power of a mobile phone, so voice recognition software isn't contained on the device itself.

Lexifone and Vocre have developed other products, with Alcatel-Lucent and Microsoft believed to be working on similar solutions.

Make Yourself a Cup of Coffee From Your Bed
Some consumer electronics companies are trying to lock consumers into their products by creating a seamless user experience, but that in turn can create interoperability issues with devices from other manufacturers.

However, Qualcomm has a slightly different approach. The chip designer has developed AllJoyn, which it tentatively calls - the Internet of Everything. Whether you own Samsung gadgets or Apple gizmos, each can be connected and controlled by your mobile using Qualcomm's open-source networking platform.

The network even extends to everyday household items. Fancy brewing a fresh cup of coffee while still lying in bed? That's possible with Qualcomm's technology.

Use It in the Shower

Fujitsu and Sony both showcased new devices at the World Mobile Congress that are waterproof. The Sony Xperia Z and the Fujitsu Stylistic S01 brag that they can be held under fresh water for up to 30 minutes. While it might not be best to push your luck by using it in the bathroom, it may offer peace of mind for some consumers.

The Stylistic S01, running Google's Android software, will be available through Orange in France in June 2013 with a U.K. launch expected soon afterwards.

Sony's Xperia, another Android device, is launching globally in the first-quarter of 2013 and retails at around $800.

Feel Like You're at the Movies

The masters at Dolby Sound have updated the company's latest audio technology for mobile devices, making it possible for users to "enjoy the kind of full-body surround sound experience that you know from the cinema."

The ZTE Grand Memo is the first smartphone to feature the next-generation processing engine and Amazon's Kindle Fire HD tablet also takes advantage of the feature. The technology is set to be rolled out across more phones in the future.

The Grand Memo, rumored to be priced near the $600 mark, will initially launch in China, followed by a Europe release, but a U.S. launch is still undecided.


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