Five highlights from the 2012 Mobile World Congress

Larger screens and 4G networks are just some of the highlights of this year’s Mobile World Congress, where the world’s largest telcos and manufacturers come together to announce the latest breakthroughs in mobile technology.

There’s simply too much to mention, too many models to sort out. Here are five of the biggest highlights.

Merging of the desktop and the tablet

Microsoft debuted the consumer build of the Windows 8 software this week and, by all accounts, it’s not only an impressive piece of software, it’s also a sign that Microsoft may be on the right track again.

Keeping the user interface consistent between all of Microsoft’s products, including smartphones and the Xbox, is a great move. But there’s also a better move at play here – Microsoft is keeping the experience between its mobile devices and desktops the same.

Windows 8 is basically the same piece of software on the tablet as it is on a desktop. The only difference is using fingers as opposed to a keyboard and mouse.

Google is doing the same thing, attempting to keep Android mobile software in tune with its tablet version, Honeycomb, although there are some differences based on the manufacturer. Apple is doing the same thing, recently changing terminology on OSX Mountain Lion to emulate that of the iOS software.

Microsoft has taken some strides in user interface design with Windows 8, but the most important thing isn’t that it looks good, but rather it keeps a consistent tone across its entire product base.  

Larger screens

If you thought smartphone screens were big, they’re about to get bigger. The most popular products at MWC were all touting screens larger than four inches, and it appears that isn’t a trend that’s about to go away.

The amount of work that’s now being done on mobile screens rivals that of desktops, and the smaller screens just don’t cut it anymore. Users want larger screens for video, document editing and content creation – but they don’t want these to be as big as tablets, which are seven inches and larger.

HTC, Motorola, Samsung – these companies are all making mobiles with screens over four inches. And although Apple may not jump on this bandwagon any time soon, the rest of the industry is certainly heading that way.

Some of the most popular phones at the conference, including the HTC One X and the Galaxy Beam, all have screens above four inches.

4G is becoming the norm

Most of the new smartphones at MWC this year had some sort of 4G capability, otherwise known as LTE. The amount of work that we’re doing on our smartphones requires more data, and 4G allows us to do it much, much faster.

It may be a while before these LTE networks take off in Australia – although Telstra has already launched its own – but it’s pretty clear faster mobile broadband is here. Over the next year or two, LTE will slowly become the norm.

Get used to Android

It should be no surprise that Android is getting bigger and bigger, but it becomes clearer at every event that Google’s reach on the smartphone industry continues to grow.

This trend goes without saying. The most powerful smartphones on the market now are running Android – the HTC One X, the Galaxy S3, among others – and the reach of this software just continues to grow.

Of course, Apple is the one making all the money, and some may argue that’s all that really matters. But Android is a clear force to be reckoned with and its share of the market isn’t dropping any time soon.

Apps, apps everywhere

Believe it or not, the MWC isn’t just about mobile phones. It’s also a place where technology developers debut their latest inventions for any type of mobile activity.

And there are plenty of them. This year, Microsoft showed off Windows 8, Ford showed off a new car with a voice-recognition system app that can even call emergency services if you crash, while a variety of other gadgets also made their way onto the show floor.

Stylus pens have become more popular this year, along with mobiles that can work as office projectors as well.



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