Mobile Network

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27 December 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Android Marshmallow 6.0 is now out

android marshmallow relseased

The latest operating system update for Android phone users has been released. Continuing the tradition of confectionary-themed code names, we now have Marshmallow for version 6.0. The updates began with Android 1.5 Cupcake and were then followed, alphabetically, by names like Gingerbread, KitKat, and then Ice Cream Sandwich for version 4.0.

Unsurprisingly, the Google-developed Nexus was the first phone to get the new Android operating system. Manufacturers who work closely with Google, and who developed Nexus devices, such as LG and HTC, will be first in line for the upgrade. Sony, Samsung and others will get Android 6 early in 2016. However, Samsung has indicated that owners of the Galaxy Note 5 and S6 Edge+ should have received their Marshmallow updates in time for Christmas. The version for the standard S6 and the S6 Edge will be released in January while the Note 4 while Android for other models will only be available towards the end of January .

So what is exciting about Marshmallow? After all, it is not a major design update like Lollipop was, but there are some exciting new features. A major emphasis is on increasing battery life. Other general improvements include better app permission controls, standardised support for fingerprint scanners, more granular volume controls, USB-C support and new Google Now features.

The new fingerprint sensor functionality means that you can unlock your phone with your finger and when Android Pay is released in the UK you will be able to make payments without opening apps.

Android 6.0 opens the way for improved voice control features. Users will soon be able to speak to their apps – and the apps will even talk back. This natural way of speaking to our smartphone and the apps installed on it could revolutionise the way we interact with our devices. Probably not soon, but it could.

To improve battery usage Google has announced the Doze feature. Using motion sensors to detect whether a device hasn’t been moved for an extended period of time, Doze will switch it to a deeper sleep mode that consumes much less power. Doze will still allow alarms to go off and key notifications to come through.

Google says it took two Nexus 9 tablets, one running Lollipop and the other Android Marshmallow, loaded the same apps and settings on both, and then tested the standby power drain on the two. Apparently, the Nexus 9 running Android Marshmallow lasted up to two times longer than its Lollipop counterpart which is pretty damn impressive. These results sound very impressive and should lead to noticeably better battery life.

One of the new features which should prove very popular is Now on Tap which is essentially an updated Google Now and allows for contextual and location based information when using apps like WhatsApp.

In summary, many of the updates are aimed at developers and should lead to improved user experiences for Android users. What are your thoughts?

03 December 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Two-thirds of Britons will own a smartphone by 2018

uk smartphone usage

The penetration of sophisticated mobile devices in developed countries is seeing a rapid rise with two thirds of Britons likely to own a smartphone by the end of 2018 and it is forecasted that half of the population will own a tablet before the New Year.

ZenithOptimedia’s New Media Forecast sees a continuing strong demand for mobile devices used to watch TV, play video and engage in social media and gaming. The surge in tablet usage has been exceptional, with the 51% of Britons likely to own a tablet by the end of the year compared to 3.5% five years ago. This gives the UK the seventh highest adoption of tablets in the world.

An interesting and unexpected finding revealed in the report is that smartphone adoption is highest in the Asia Pacific region and in Western Europe. The report expects these regions to maintain their lead for the next few years. The United States, which is usually viewed as the home of technology, is rated below these regions. Although it may be a major producer of technology, a lot of people in the country are not as committed to using the latest devices as are the citizens in Asia and Western Europe. This would suggest a significant digital divide in the USA, which is a little surprising.

The country with the highest smartphone penetration is Singapore which had an 89% penetration at the end of last year and because of government plans for universal Wi-Fi access this is expected to reach 97% by 2018.

Two unexpected regions with over 80% market penetration are Spain and Ireland with 86.7% and 83% smartphone usage respectively. It is interesting to speculate why two countries with a lower GDP than the UK have a higher smartphone market penetration. The report does not comment on this and one can only assume that the UK has a larger group of people who are not connected digitally. This could be a result of severe economic challenges people are experiencing as well as choices being made between the cost of survival and the cost of acquiring non-essential technology. Ireland experienced a technology boom a few years ago and this has possibly resulted in the country as a whole being more technologically developed than the UK.

A recent article in questions whether Dublin is set to overtake London as Europe’s technology hub. “The tech sector has really got Dublin through the bad times,” said Paul Finucane, director at Colliers International, “now Dublin is hot on the heels of London for the title of Europe’s Silicon Valley.”

The most important fact which emerges from the ZenithOptimedia report is that mobile technology has become one of the most important means to access digital services.

“The rapid spread of mobile technology is transforming media consumption and marketing communication across the world,” said Jonathan Barnard, ZenithOptimedia’s Head of Forecasting. “For more and more people, their smartphone or tablet is the first place they look for information or entertainment. Marketers need a mobile-first approach to communicate with these people effectively.”

When did you get your first smartphone? And how many people do you know who still don’t have one? Let us know in the comments below.

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30 November 2015 ~ 2 Comments

Loophole in roaming rules allows new Anywhere SIM to use three major UK networks

anywhere sim

Don’t you just hate it when you fail to get even a single “bar” of mobile phone reception? Especially when a mate – on a different network and sitting right next to you – is happily texting away whilst you are left to silently curse your operator.

A new offering on the UK market called Anywhere SIM promises to eliminate this frustrating problem. A Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), Anywhere claims it turns so-called “notspots” into hot spots, due to its SIM cards’ ability to use any of the major UK networks. The special SIMs are programmed to automatically connect to the network with the strongest signal, just like a foreign SIM would.

The new firm is able to operate this way due to a roaming agreement its parent company, Manx Telecom Ltd, has with the UK mobile industry’s big three operators – Vodafone, O2 and EE. Because Manx is based on the Isle of Man, users on the UK mainland are technically roaming all the time, thus allowing them the pick of networks.

As the big three operators themselves have so far resisted pressure from the government to offer national roaming, Anywhere SIM and its clever sidestepping of the current roaming rules offers the best chance for UK mobile phone users to avoid notspots.

Pricing is straightforward, if rather expensive, with each of three available tariffs offering a flat rate for calls, text and data. Texts cost 5p, while calls and data will set you back between 5p and 10p per minute/megabyte. There’s a single, flat rate for roaming right across Europe.

The firm’s founder, Matthew Wright, told BBC News the new network appealed to people who had experienced coverage issues, such as those who live in rural locations.

“And those who travel a lot and experience notspots – for example people that spend a lot of time in caravans and those who pursue outdoor pursuits – cyclers, runners, walkers, anglers, there’s a long list that could benefit outside the big conurbations.”

What’s your thoughts on this new service? Is the flexibility worth the added cost? And how likely are you to use such a network?