a week in wireless


You little beauty

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You can tell a lot about people’s enthusiasms by the language they use; the greater the enthusiasm the more conventional adjectives prove insufficient to truly do the subject matter justice. Wine connoisseurs, for example, refer to obscure fruits, nuts, minerals or even abstract concepts in order to fully convey the majesty of some grapes that have been left lying around for a year or so.

Car fanatics such as Jeremy Clarkson will call upon macho imagery and tangential similes in a doomed attempt to give us normal folk a taste of what it’s like to drive a super-car. “She’s like an unbroken filly in need of a thorough whipping – a white-knuckle panic-attack of a ride that will leave you begging for more,” you could easily imagine them saying.

But the Informer has always had a special soft-spot for those who comment on gadgetry, especially their ability to observe the kind of beauty in these bits of kit the rest of us find only in nature, fine art and successful free-kicks. If you try telling them they’re just tools (the gadgets, that is), they would probably have you burned at the stake for heresy. Either that or they would just curl up in a ball on the floor and hum manically while they try to untangle the existential dilemma you’ve just served up.

This week hosted the annual geek pilgrimage that is Google I/O, where Google talks to developers about… developing. Of course the developments developed by the developers are relevant to all of us in a digital world increasingly dictated by Google’s whims, and with Android accounting for four fifths of the global smartphone market, the mobile industry needs to pay special attention.

Arguably the dominant theme this year was Android Wear, which is essentially a version of Android designed specifically to run on smartwatches, or to use the broader term for that sort of gadget, wearables. Of course the likes of Samsung and Sony have been producing smartwatches for a couple of years already, but have had to improvise their own software. Now Google has gently patted them on the head and said “thanks for everything, but we’ll take it from here.”

Perhaps as a consolation prize it gave Samsung and its Korean arch-rival LG an early sighter of Android Wear, and they dutifully trotted out new smartwatches. These elicited some moderately glowing adjectives from the breathless gadget commentariat, but we were spared the full hyperbole broadside.

It turned out, however, they were merely keeping their powder dry for the highlight: the Moto 360. As the name implies it is made by Motorola, which is owned by Google (for the time being), and is therefore cheating at Android. Also implied is its most exciting feature – it’s round! All the smartwatches produced to date have either looked like an iPod Nano strapped to your wrist or one of those Casio calculator watches that separated the men from the boys in the 80s. Now, simply by recalling its primary school geometry, Motorola has made a smartwatch that looks more like a watch, but is no less smart than the rectangular ones.

Elegant, good looking, curvaceous and even sexy were some of the confusing adjectives applied to this piece of shiny newness. But even those were just gentle introductions to the outpouring of lust that was to follow. One writer confessed to ‘swooning’ at the site of this erotic innovation before promptly strapping it on (!) and concluding it was “gorgeous. GORGEOUS.”

While the Informer was not quite as moved, the simple shift to a round face does seem to be a step in the right direction. Google reckons we check our phones more than 150 times per day and that having to fish it out of our pockets/bags, unlock it and then select the latest digital update is, quite frankly, a massive hassle. The smartwatch is designed to be the first point of contact in a cascade of interaction, where we escalate to a smartphone, tablet, PC, TV or whatever, depending on how we want to consume a given digital morsel. However, watches already exist, so it seems likely that, unless we expect people to start wearing two of them, designing a smartwatch to closely resemble what we already have seems wise.

Talking of beauty, the Telecoms.com team were in Amsterdam this week, which is one of the prettiest cities in the world and, so the Informer is reliably informed, is overrun with six-foot blondes cruising around the place on bikes. Rumour even has it some of them are almost as attractive as the Moto 360. Amsterdam was also the setting for the Telecoms.com LTE awards, of which Huawei was a double winner.

Meanwhile, in the beautiful game, England’s failure was taken especially hard by EE, which lamented “…the fans’ disappointment was reflected in our network traffic. There was high 4G usage across the EE network at the start of the match, however the lacklustre performance led to even the most passionate fans switching off, with network traffic in the second half decreasing by 50 per cent.” For some reason EE declined to comment on the bytes consumed during the Uruguay Italy game.

Take care.

The Informer


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