MOBILE MAY: A mobile lifestyle

8 May 2011

The latest innovations in mobile technology have brought countless new ways of keeping people organised and entertained. Laura O’Brien takes a look at what is on offer.

Not too long ago, the mobile phone was a much more limited device. It was good for calling and texting, along with some basic games and web access.

Fast forward to 2011 and the mobile phone has grown into something much bigger. With the development of smartphones, there are few limits. You can connect to Wi-Fi networks or via 3G and surf the web anywhere, accessing rich graphic and media content with ease.

With your smartphone, you can take high-quality pictures to rival some compact cameras, and fuse your creations with top photography apps to make them look even better. You can also access hundreds of thousands of apps for your phone for free or for low prices. And that’s just scratching the surface.

It’s little wonder that so many people want to invest in one of these versatile devices. According to research from Return2Sender, 600,000 Irish people owned a smartphone at the end of 2010 and Return2Sender predicts this is only going to rise.

While a few years ago, the iPhone was the biggest name in smartphones, today there’s much more competition. Along with the iPhone, you have Google’s Android operating system, which can be seen on a huge amount of smartphones, ranging from expensive to budget devices. Many phone manufacturers, such as HTC, also overlays its own unique user interface over Android to customise it further.

There’s also Microsoft’s brand new mobile operating system, Windows Phone 7, which launched late last year. Not to mention Symbian, running on Nokia phones, and BlackBerry’s range of devices.

Apps aplenty

Evidently, there are a lot of options when buying a smartphone. And the choices don’t stop once you get one, considering the mind-boggling number of apps available on each device.

While it may seem a little bit overwhelming, the thing to keep in mind with smartphones is that when you have one, you can really make it your own. Buying habits for mobile phones have shifted from how they look physically to what apps they have access to.

Whether you’re a shopaholic, a news junkie, a sports fanatic or a chef in the making, you can download apps to cater for every interest.

Even ignoring individual interests, apps are fantastic for making the little things in life that much easier – maybe you want to upload some photos to Facebook while at lunch, perhaps you need to find out bus times while you’re still in town, or maybe you’re on a long train journey and want to play a video game to keep you occupied. Either way, it’s clear that smartphones can do a lot for you and the only limit is what you download to yours.

Enter tablets

Smartphones aren’t the only devices that have been in the spotlight in recent years, thanks to the launch of the Apple iPad last year. Tablets seem to be the biggest devices of 2011, and like with smartphones, Apple isn’t the only game in town.

This year, there will be a huge range of Android devices, such as the HTC Flyer, which you can win exclusively in our competition, and the Motorola Xoom. HP is also planning an impressive tablet running on webOS called the TouchPad, and the BlackBerry Playbook should be arriving to Irish shores quite soon.

Along with running mobile apps, these devices make tasks such as browsing the web and reading e-books incredibly immersive and intuitive, relying on a natural touchscreen interface.

Already, the mobile world is an impressive place, and considering potential future innovations, such as the ability to pay for goods through your smartphone, it can only get better.

If the number of innovations increases as quickly as it already has done in the next few years, smartphones could keep improving on lifestyles for many years to come.

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