Mobile World Congress: The headlines for developers

This week is, of course, Mobile World Congress. Some years ago, this wouldn’t have mattered so much to programmers, but as our computers have become increasingly mobile, and our phones have become ever more powerful, this event is where developers can see the platforms that their customers will want to use tomorrow.

eWeek has an interesting write-up on the key trends at Mobile World Congress, highlighting the importance of Android, and how multicore processors are everywhere. Last year, there was a real frenzy around Android on the Google stand, with people feverishly collecting the little Android pin badges. Their stand had a cocktail bar serving free drinks, and a slide to go from the top level of the stand to the bottom. eWeek says that every vendor is touting Android this year, and since it was by far the coolest brand at last year’s Mobile World Congress, that’s not surprising. eWeek also says that the iPad 3 is top of everyone’s mind. The device hasn’t been officially announced yet and Apple isn’t exhibiting at the show, but we’re all expecting news to emerge next week, and for Apple to raise the bar once again on what defines the tablet experience. That’s prompted companies at Mobile World Congress to try to outdo the device before they even know its spec, eWeek says.

Intel has used Mobile World Congress as a platform for announcing several new products and alliances for the smartphone market. Orange announced a new smartphone based on the Intel Atom processor Z2460 reference design. The device supports services including Orange TV and comes to the UK in the summer. In India, Lava will release the XOLO X900 smartphone, the first Intel technology-based smartphone in India’s rapidly growing market. Intel is also partnering with handset maker ZTE to create smartphones and tablet devices, the first of which will be out in the second half of 2012. Intel and Visa have entered into a multi-year alliance, so they can create new secure payment services.

There was news of new processor developments too: the Intel Atom processor Z2460 (formerly called “Medfield”) will support speeds up to 2GHz; the new Atom Z2580 will double the Z2460’s performance and include an advanced multimode LTE/3G/2G solution; and the new Atom Z2000 will target the value smartphone market. Intel says it includes a 1.0 GHz Atom CPU, which will enable great graphics and video for Android games and web surfing. For developers, these announcements reinforce Intel’s vision of enabling software to run across a continuum of devices, from handhelds to desktops and TVs. If you’re at the show, you can register for some Intel developer sessions taking place tomorrow.

Facebook has said that it’s working with device makers to try to tackle the problem of fragmented HTML5 implementations on devices. It’s also working to try to improve operator billing, to move closer to a single-step purchase process. I think it’s far more likely this will be used to enable purchases from adverts and Facebook pages than to sell access to the service, but I expect there will be a meme on Facebook protesting soon anyway.

Mozilla and Telefonica also announced that they’re working on HTML5, trying to extend it to enable it to access the full range of device features. They hope to work with the W3C to have their work built into the HTML standard.

Ford Motor Company was present too, emphasising the opportunities in intelligent transport systems where cars, devices and the transport infrastructure can communicate with each other. This could present some interesting opportunities for developers, although given the importance of ensuring the safety of drivers and passengers, I don’t know how open the infrastructure and car systems will ultimately be.

A lot of today’s press coverage led with Nokia’s announcement of a 41MP camera phone. Given the resolution of the camera is better than many dedicated SLR digital cameras, this is a bold move. Can we come up with applications that will make the most of this additional resolution?  How will this huge leap in resolution affect digital photography as a disclipline? And does the lens quality justify such resolution? I think it will be a while before I see one of these to find out for myself.

What news have you seen coming out of Mobile World Congress that’s caught your attention?

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