Friday 9 December 2016

10 things you never knew that your mobile could do

Published 02/02/2012 | 06:00

Gordon Gekko, the anti-hero of the 1987 movie Wall Street, was a cool guy. He wore crisp, expensive suits and drove a fancy car. But coolest of all, he had a mobile phone.

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Moviegoers had heard of them, but few had ever seen one before.

In the 2010 remake of the movie, that iconic mobile phone makes a cameo appearance. Audiences laughed at the size of the device. Douglas could hardly get his fingers around it. It was the size of a small brick, and probably as heavy.

The mobile phone has been transformed in the 25 years since Gekko, played by Michael Douglas, made his phone call on the beach. It has changed size, of course, but also function. Now, almost the last thing you'll do with your phone is make a call.

It's been a bumpy ride at times from the old analogue 088 service to today. Now, many countries have moved on to a 4G service called LTE (Long Term Evolution).

At present, most people have 3G HSPA on their phone, which is like broadband, and LTE will make it even faster.

Ireland is auctioning off wireless spectrum bands this year, so LTE technology may be available by the end of 2012. It was first introduced in Sweden in 2009. "For a while now, phones have stayed more or less the same," says Simon Rees, sales and marketing director at Idiro Technologies and a veteran of the telecoms industry, "but what's changing is that the mobile data networks are getting much faster. "Sometimes phone capability jumps ahead, and battery power struggles to keep up. Then batteries improve and there's another surge in phone technology. The chips in phones now are much more powerful than the ones in PCs from a few years ago."

For Rees, one of the biggest changes in the mobile industry is "disintermediation" -- before, when you bought a Nokia or an Motorola phone, they owned everything on it.

Now that operating systems have opened up, you can load all sorts of stuff designed by other companies on to your phone. Now, we are in a telecoms world where phones are more like computers and tablet computers such as the Apple iPad 2 3G are becoming more like phones. Moore's Law states that computer chips double their processing power every 18 months, a process expected to continue for another two decades at least. In a generation, when audiences see a Gekko-like character whip out his iPhone, they will laugh at the uncoolness of it all.

Irish Independent

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