The march of mobile technology

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If last year was all about dual-core CPUs and 12 megapixel shooters were the norm at the high-end of the smartphone scale, this year has seen the first quad-core powered phones announced along with Nokia pulling a whopping 41 megapixel smartphone camera out of its goodie basket.

Nokia’s 808 PureView with its 41 megapixel sensor uses oversampling to give the best possible 5 or 8 megapixel shot. For once, digital zoom can be used without losing detail. The ginormous sensor also offers better low-light photography, long the Waterloo for smartphone cameras. As this kind of camera capabilities soak into more high-end and, eventually, mid-range smartphones, manufacturers of digital cameras will find it harder to find buyers for still cameras. Another feature that’s being touted is 1080p or full HD video capture.

One technology that got a lot of hype in the preceding year was NFC with its promise of revolutionizing mobile commerce. It remains to be seen if NFC will find widespread adoption at least on the device front to begin with as a critical mass of devices is needed before services around this technology are rolled out.

Voice control has been in the news for a while now, largely thanks to Apple’s Siri. Android has had voice recognition for a while now but Apple’s offering is more flexible in terms of its ability to understand how the user speaks rather than making the user learn a set of commands as Google’s Voice Actions does.

Meanwhile, LTE or 4G has made its presence felt in the US and phones that support it have been battery hogs. That will likely get resolved by the time the technology comes to India.

Another technology that seems to be coming of age is Augmented Reality. You can read all about it in this issue’s lead story. Simply put, Augmented Reality lets you view stuff through your phone’s camera viewfinder and overlays information about what you are viewing. There are implications here for activities as diverse as shopping and farming.

All in all, mobile technology remains on the boil and every generation of smartphones (there’s a new one every year) is more feature-rich and subsumes capabilities that earlier required dedicated devices.

Prashant L. Rao

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