Roundup of the month: 5 things you may have missed in December

It feels like December has flown by, and as usual there hasn’t been a dull moment in the mobile industry as 2015 reaches its inevitable conclusion.

This year, as ever, smartphones became more powerful, network speeds increased, traditional television viewing slid into decline, and the industry sped forward like Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon making a hyperspace jump. The shoehorned Star Wars reference out of the way, now is a good time to sit back, grab another mince pie and see what news you may have missed in December…

1. Firefox OS is dead (or is it? hint: no!)

It’s very likely that you have used the Firefox browser on a PC at one time or another. But how many people can say they have ever used Firefox OS, or even seen it in the flesh?

Mozilla, creator of the alternative mobile operating system which came into being in 2013, was widely reported in the tech news as stating that Firefox OS would be no more. It was, seemingly, a sad day for anyone looking for alternatives to Android and iOS.

However, after the flood of “Firefox OS is dead” reports, Mozilla’s Head of Connected Devices, Ari Jaaksi, commented on Twitter: “Mozilla will stop offering Firefox OS phones through carriers. But we will continue improving web experience on smartphones”. Later adding: “FirefoxOS is alive and strong, but the push through carriers is over. We pivot to IoT and user experience”.

Firefox OS

Image: © Mozilla.

 

Here’s another statement from Mozilla as to the fate of Firefox OS.

We are proud of the benefits Firefox OS added to the Web platform and will continue to experiment with the user experience across connected devices. We will build everything we do as a genuine open source project, focused on user experience first and build tools to enable the ecosystem to grow.

Firefox OS proved the flexibility of the Web, scaling from low-end smartphones all the way up to HD TVs. However, we weren’t able to offer the best user experience possible and so we will stop offering Firefox OS smartphones through carrier channels.

We’ll share more on our work and new experiments across connected devices soon.

2. Students create first stop smoking mobile game

A concept game for smartphones that helps people stop smoking has been developed by undergraduate medical students at Imperial.

The app, Quit Genius, isn’t yet available, but it will apparently use principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to give personalised support to anyone wishing to kick the habit.

Quit Genius

Image: © Quit Genius.

 

The app will feature challenges and incentives, as well as an animated virtual doctor, encouraging smokers to think differently about smoking and set goals to achieve. The gaming element of course will no doubt add an element of fun – perhaps swapping one addiction for another?!

There is loads more information at QuitGenius.com.

3. The smartphone is (unsurprisingly) eating the television

Nielsen confirmed what our readers already knew from the various articles we’ve posted on this very subject, that smartphones are becoming one of the most convenient and popular ways to consume television, largely at the expense of traditional viewing habits.

Nielsen revealed that smartphones are winning the viewing battle and old-fashioned TV is losing out especially amongst youngsters between 18 and 34, as smartphones, tablets and connected device usage grew more than 25% in May compared to the year before.

The full report is chock full of fascinating stats like this one:

Nielsen TV and Smartphone Viewing

Image: © Nielson.

 

4. UK smartphone users are NOT satisfied with mobile data services

This news comes courtesy of Vasona Networks, whose study found that smartphone owners in the UK think their operator doesn’t meet their mobile data expectations.

Findings in the study included:

  • Two-thirds (67%) of mobile broadband users expect, “good mobile data performance all of the time, with no temporary hiccups or outages”
  • 53% now blame their operator when apps don’t work like they expect (up from 47% last year), which is more than those who suspect device makers, app vendors and OS developers combined
  • 40% believe that they can get better mobile broadband performance by switching providers.
No mobile data? Don't stress...

No mobile data? Don’t stress…

 

Regarding the survey, John Reister, vice president of marketing and product management for Vasona Networks said:

Reliable bandwidth is the currency that operators trade in today, and delivering anything less than consistently great experiences introduces competitive threats and risk of customer churn, as shown by our survey data. Improving mobile broadband reliability and performance are great opportunities, but operators that don’t get out in front of the pack will become vulnerable.

So there you have it – we expect a lot from our mobile networks, and we don’t mind switching providers to get what we want!

5. Never has a phone case drawn so much ire

Phone cases. Some people love them, others never use one. After all, why put a shiny new phone in a case and hide those beautifully-sculpted lines and curves? To overcome the deficiencies of a small-capacity battery, that’s why.

Recognising this need, Apple released its new iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case in December (or as close to as I can recall), and it’s probably attracted the most negative criticism of any phone case in the history of phone cases.

Here it is in all its glory:

Apple iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case

Image: © Apple. Does the iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case really look all that bad?

 

What’s so bad about that? Aside from the need to use a battery case in the first place, it seems people have taken issue with the “hump”, claiming it’s a sign that Apple has lost the plot when it comes to design. Cue the cries of “wouldn’t have been approved in Steve Jobs’ day”, “a crisis of design at Apple”, etc.

Tim Cook even said in an interview recently: “You know, I probably wouldn’t call it ‘the hump'”. Perhaps the design team actually are a little hurt by the criticism.

Design aside, it reportedly does its job as a battery case fairly well, it has a nice soft silicone feel (easy to get on and off), and even displays its battery status on the iPhone’s lock screen.

Storm in a teacup.


From the whole team at Mobile Industry Review, have a fantastic New Year and see you in 2016…

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