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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Looking ahead at mobile technology

There were some surprises among the usual smartphone and tablet announcements at the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.
The Straits Times - March 12, 2013
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Looking ahead at mobile technology

Handset owners who want more than the current crop of Android, iOS and BlackBerry devices have two new mobile platforms to look forward to this year, while fans of webOS can soon use the operating system in their living rooms. Digital Life rounds up the news from the four-day trade event which lasted from from Feb 25 to 28.

Tizen

Tizen, a new open-source Linux-based operating system (OS) by chip maker Intel and hardware maker Samsung, was introduced in January last year and Samsung demonstrated how it ran on reference devices at MWC.

Samsung said it would ship Tizen devices late this year, but did not give a more definitive date.

The surprise is that Samsung is ditching its own Bada OS to focus on Tizen. While Samsung has found great success with Google's Android OS, the shift to Tizen is seen as a back-up plan, in case it loses ground with Android.

Phone makers Fujitsu and Huawei say they also plan to make Tizen-powered devices.

Firefox OS

Mozilla, the gang behind the Firefox browser, is launching the Firefox OS, a mobile phone OS to compete with Android, iOS, Microsoft Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10.

Its advantage is that it is browser-based, so Web applications, such as YouTube and Facebook, will work on the platform without the need to have a group of developers create apps for the system.

Devices running this new OS are expected to be launched in the second quarter of the year in developing markets, while high-end sets will hit the United States market only next year.

LG acquires webOS from HP

Korean hardware maker LG inked a deal to buy the beleaguered mobile operating system (OS) from HP for an undisclosed sum.

HP acquired webOS for US$1.2 billion in 2010. The promising OS died a quick death when HP closed down the line of phones and tablets powered by the software.

Instead of using webOS on smartphones, LG will use it for its range of smart TVs instead.

Its new webOS-driven sets are expected to be out only next year.

HP launches 7-inch Android tablet

After killing its TouchPad tablet in 2011, HP focused on Windows-based laptops and tablets. So it was a surprise when it sprang the 7-inch US$169 (S$210) Slate 7 tablet on the market.

Powered by Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and a dual-core, 1.6 GHz ARM processor, Slate 7 will have a 1,024 x 600 pixel display and offer Beats Audio enhancements.

Details on where and when it is available locally will be announced at a later date.

Viking augmented reality glasses

All eyes are on Viking, a new mobile phone operating system by Japanese company Brilliant Service, that works as a pair of wearable eyewear with augmented reality features.

Meant as a replacement to the traditional mobile phone, the device uses gesture controls to navigate through the apps and icons that appear on the glasses.

The company said it is working on refining the software and is looking at partners to build the hardware.

Smart watches

Even as rumours about Apple making a smartwatch accessory persist, other vendors are already showcasing their offerings.

Following offerings such as Sony's smartwatch, the Pebble E-Paper watch, Italian company I'm showed off the I'm Watch, which offers a heart rate detector on top of SMS and e-mail notifications, as well as links to apps on your phone.

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