Table of Contents
- Mobile Technology
- Cellular and Wi-Fi.
- 4G LTE and WiMax
- Cellular and Money
- Cloud Maps
- The Side by Side Strategy
- Tablet and Phones
- Display and Touch
- My Machines
In the previous chapter I gave a broad overview of mobile technology. Without ever being specific about any one technology, I tried to give a sense of what a mobile device is, how it fits into the broader field of computational devices, and how it will likely impact individual users.
If you are going to connect to the cloud with a mobile device, there are dozens of possible protocols, but in the end, you usually have only three choices:
- A low range Personal Area Network or connecting across short distances with a technology like Bluetooth.
- A Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) carries wireless protocols a moderate distance using protocols such as WiFi - 802.11 g or n.
- City wide Cellular networks (Packet Data or Roaming Data) that are usually called 3G or 4G. EDGE is popular 3G system, while WIMAX is a 4G protocol.
As a rule, access to wireless protocols are free, while access to packet data or roaming data can be obtained only if you pay money to a cellular carrier like AT&T, Verizon or TMobile.
Cellular and Wi-Fi.
You have undoubtedly heard a good deal of talk about 3G and 4G networks. These are cellular networks that allow you to send data to and from a mobile device. You can turn off your cellular network and still have phone coverage. You need your cellular network only if:
- You need to transfer data such as email or files
- You are not on a Wi-Fi network.
People get very concerned about the amount of data that their contract will allow them to transfer each month. Personally, I take the smallest amount my company will allow. I use cellular networks to transfer data only in rare circumstances, and when I do, I'm very careful about what I send back and forth. In particular, I using it almost entirely for maps and navigation.
Does this mean that I don't use data on my mobile devices? No, not at all. I'm sure I transfer a respectable, even unusually large, amount of data over my phone. It is just that I perform large transfers only when I am connected to a wireless network. In particular, I transfer most of my data either over my home network, or over the Bellevue College Network. I have a cellular contract for my phone, but my tablet works only over Wi-Fi. I'm content with this arrangement. I need to connect my phone to the network to transfer data from time to time, usually because I want navigation tools or to get email. My tablet, on the other hand, is not a tool I often use when on the go. I am content to wait until I am near a hotspot before I connect it to the network.
CDMA and GSM are two competing technologies for delivering cellular content. There is no particular technical advantage to using one or the other, but GSM is more commonly used around the world. As a result, if your phone uses GSM, then you will be more easily able to use it in foreign countries. There are always trade offs, but America is one of the few countries that has this problem, because it is one of the few places where the government has not been actively involved in setting standards. It is also one of the few places in the industrialized world where connectivity is spotty, and where prices are often prohibitively high.
- CDMA: Code Division Multiple Access
- GSM: Global System for Mobiles
In the US, only ATT&T and T-Mobile use GSM. The rest use CDMA. If you like to travel abroad, consider using a GSM phone so you will more easily be able to connect overseas.
In general, in Europe laws were passed to make phones more easily interchangable. In the US, companies fight to keep you locked into their system. In theory, the move to 4G and 4G LTE should end the grip of the big cellular carriers on your phone, but in practice, these companies are coming up with tricks that will keep you locked in.
4G standards are starting to be rolled out. This fourth generation of cellular communications is defined not by a particular technology, but by the speed at which the technology operates. There are currently two technologies, LTE and WiMAX, both of which are significantly faster than 3G technologies, but which do not yet reach 4G speeds of 1 GB per second (Gbit/s). WiMAX 2 and LTE-Advanced should operate at this speed and should be available by 2013.
In the screenshow of the network status page, can you find both places where it tells us that we are connected to 4G LTE network? Hint: Look carefully at the status bar at the top of the screenshot.
Frankly, I don't spend a lot of time thinking about these things. Fast Wi-Fi networks meet most of my needs, and even relatively slow 3G networks usually allow me to get the data I need when I am on the road and really need to pull down a map, a web page, or some email. Nevertheless, I'm sure I will adjust quickly enough when faster transfer rates become available -- so long as our cellular cariiers adjust rates appropriately to handle the speeds they offer. I have seen, for instance, cellular networks charge $20 a MB for transfers in "foreign" countries such as Canada or Mexico. Since some phones automatically upload pictures as you take them, a $10 trip over the border could quickly lead to the loss of your house if you start shooting some pictures or video while strolling for a few minutes on the wrong side of the imaginary line drawn between Washington State and British Columbia!
- LTE: Peak download of 100 Mbit/s.
- WiMAX: Peak download of 128 Mbit/s
The upload speads for these technologies are generally one half of the download speed.
4G LTE and WiMax
The acronym LTE stands for Long Term Evolution. It is based on GSM/EDGE and UMTS. The technology first appeared in 2009 in Northern Europe, and in 2010 in the US.
Both 4G LTE and WiMax fail to fulfill the 4G specification. However, they have officially been allowed to use the name since they do represent a significant improvement over 3G. We are just now starting to hear about LTE Advanced, which might be a real 4G network.
LTE advanced would allow uploads of 1 GBits per second. The 4G LTE networks currently available allow 100 MBits per second.
Cellular and Money
On many Android devices, you will have a limit to how much Cellular data you can download. Let's be clear:
- As a rule, WiFi is free. Just connect to the network, and you can download as much data as you want. There are some public places where you are charged for using WiFi, but in places like your home, a school, or at work, you usually have free access to WiFi.
Some Cellular accounts are unlimited. Most, hwoever, have a data limit on them. Know how much data you can download, and keep track of it. On some Android Devices, you can do this by choosing Settings | Connections | Data Usage. A big danger is that you could begin downloading application updates, or begin streaming music or videos, over your cellular connection. As a rule, you never want to do these things.
- In the Google Play Store, select Settings | Auto Update Apps over Wifi only. If you get a new phone, this is the first thing you should check. In general, when you buy a new phone, you should immediately do two things: set up your Google Account by going to the Play Store. In the Play Store, set up your account so you can only download over Wifi
Make sure you cannot stream music over anything but WiFi. In Google Play Music, go to Settings | Streaming | Stream via WiFi Only. Also check Download via Wi-Fi Only.
GPS is not the same thing as 3G, 4G or WiFi. For instance, my phone will give me accurate GPS readings even when I have data transfer (WiFi and 3G) turned off. However, you are probably used to having maps download when you look at GPS data. Nevertheless, if you know what to do with raw GPS (Lat/Long) data, or if you just want to record a GPS track, you shouldn't need to turn on either WiFi or Cellular data. If you turn on Airplane mode, however, then you will probably stop getting GPS data.
It might help to consider an example of the relationship between a mobile device and the cloud. When we use a navigation tool to help us to drive from one location to another, the information we use is typically stored in the cloud. Our computers connect to servers in the cloud, pull down a map, pull down information about streets and traffic, and plot a route between our current position and our destination.
Almost everything we see: the image of the map itself, the information about driving distance, the direction of one-way roads, the shortest distance between points, descriptions of landmarks -- all of it originates in a data store based in the cloud. It may not be a traditional relational database, but it is nonetheless data stored in the cloud.
It took little time for people to become attached to mapping and navigation tools, but once they caught on, they became very popular. If your phone could not connect to the cloud and pull down mapping down keyed to your current location, then the phone would not be nearly as valuable to you. We love our phones not because they are computers, but because they are computers connected to the cloud.
If you have been using a computer for years, and if you are used to a particular mail program, you have a number of hurtles to overcome before you can begin using your phone as a mail client. Here are some thoughts and ideas:
- You can probably get Exchange, Gmail, Hotmail or any other mail service on your phone. If you think you can't, you are probably just missing something or using the wrong tools.
- As a rule, you use the Email app for Exchange or POP accounts, and you use the Gmail app for Gmail. There are custom applications for other common mail carriers, such as Hotmail.
You can handle all your email communications over the phone. At first I wondered how people did this. Do some people have smaller fingers than me? Have they got some kind of mind meld with their phones? It turns out that it is just a question of desire. You just need to be willing to get good at using mail applications on a phone. You probably once put a lot of time into learning how to use a PC. You need to do the same thing with your phone. You may, in fact, have to be prepared to go through a significant learning process even to perform "simple" functions such as using a phone. It's all a matter of attitude.
One exercise that I have found helpful is to sit down in front of a computer with my phone in my hand. Open up my mail client on both the PC and the Phone. Try to handle all my mail on the phone. When I get stuck or confused, I go to the PC client and try to sort out what is happening. Perhaps I will find some kind of mail that I just can't process on my phone - at least not yet. In that case, can I mark it for later processing on the PC? If I have 100 messages, can I get through 93 of them on the phone, and handle the remaining seven later on the PC?
The Side by Side Strategy
I believe that it is not cheating to use your phone and your PC at the same time. At first, you may find that you did something on your phone but you are not sure that it really worked. If you performed the activity in the cloud, and you should be doing everything in the cloud, then you can simply open the cloud application you used on your device on your PC and check to make sure it worked. I often find that once I confirm that it is working, then I'm able to go back to my phone, and confirm the same thing on my phone.
Tablet and Phones
Which is better: a tablet or a phone? This is question that can obsess someone new to mobile devices. There are many arguments in favor of each platform:
- It is easier to input data on tablet than on a phone.
- Some kinds of documents, like technical books that contain code, look better on a tablet because lines are not wrapped in such awkward places.
- A movie looks better on a tablet.
- A standard book is easier to read on a tablet - for the first fifteen minutes. But if you want to read in bed for an hour or two, you might be surprised to find that you prefer a phone.
- You can take a phone with you wherever you go. A tablet is big, and bulky. Unless you have a backpack, you won't want to carry it with you on a hike. And even if you do have a backpack, it is awkward to pull a tablet out just to take a photograph.
- And of course most tablets aren't designed to be used as phones, though they can work very nicely as Skype clients.
Ultimately, the sad truth is that there are good reasons to own both a tablet and a phone. They each have their uses.
But come one Charlie, you must have an opinion. Which do you really prefer? If you had to choose, which would you take with you and which leave behind? The answer, perhaps not surprisingly, is not easy to frame properly:
- There are times when a phone is much easier to carry and use than a tablet. There just things you can do on a phone that you really need to do that are hard to do with a tablet. In particular, you can carry the phone almost anywhere, while there are some places where a tablet is really awkward to use.
- On the other hand, I really love my Android tablet in a way that I don't love my phone. My phone is convenient, but there are times when I have a real romance with my tablet. Sometimes I can get real work done on a tablet, or really enjoy myself browsing or playing games on a tablet, It can, at times, feel like exactly the right device. while a phone is almost always a compromise between convenience and necessity.
As we move into the cloud, passwords becoming ubiquitous. It is not at all unusually for one person to maintain 25, 50, even 75 or 100 online accounts. No one can stay on top of that many usernames and passwords.
Even if you have an exceptional memory, there will come a time when the panoply of sites, password restrictions, and updated passwords will surpass your ability to remember the necessary details. One site has a limit of 12 characters, the next site doesn’t allow special characters; another site insists that you include special characters. Some sites force you to update your password at awkward times, other sites are so important to you that you feel compelled to update the password. Will you, at the same time, update all your 75 sites with a new password? Probably not.
There are several rules you need to consider when working with passwords:
- Create multiple levels of passwords. Break your sites out into groups, and assign a different password to each group.
- Create complex passwords that cannot be easily guessed
- Change passwords on most sites at least once every 6 months, and preferably once every 3 months
Not all passwords are created equal. Suppose you choose the word enter as a password. Most hackers could break that password in less than 1/100th of a second. Suppose you choose enterT0wnN0w! as a password. It might take a hacker 26 million years to crack that password. It is not difficult to learn how to create good passwords. You just need to develop a few simple skills.
Here are some sites you can visit to help you learn how to design a robust password:
Of course, once you have created a good password, you need to have a system for remembering it. If you are using a mobile device, then you need to be able to remember it not just when you are at home, but when you are on the road. As a result, you probably want to use an online password tool such as LastPass, 1Password, or mSecure to help you track your passwords.
Writing information down in an encrypted document can also be helpful, but you need to be sure you can read the document even when you are on a remote machine. For instance, trying to read an encrypted Excel SpreadSheet is difficult if you are at a friend’s house and have access only to your Android phone.
Finally, it is possible that there are few sites that are so important to you that you would not trust the password to any third party, or to any encryption system. If you feel that way, fine, but you probably don’t need anything like that level of security on email accounts, technical sites, or social media accounts. Yes, you still want these sites to be secure, but a strong, frequently updated password and an encryption system that takes a few million years to crack is probably going to keep even a dreaded enemy, such as an ex-girlfriend, out of your Facebook account!
Display and Touch
We depend on our ability to manipulate a mobile device through touch. There are various types of displays that respond to touch.
- Capacitive displays are based on the human skins ability to conduct electricity. For instance, they can sense if they are near anything that is more or less conductive than air. Devices of this type, are very responsive, though this can be bad in a device such as a reader where you don't want to turn a page by accident.
- Resistive displays are more resistant, that is less responsive, and do not require that we touch it with our fingers
hvga half vga - 320 * 240
800 * 600 svga, super vga.
- WI-FI Only
- Dual Core Tegra 2 Processor
- Android 3.1, Honeycomb
- 1280 X 800, 10.1 inches
- 1 lb., 3.9 Ounces
- Cameras: Rear: 3 MP; Front: 2 MP
The Galaxy Tab 2 is a good machine. Note, however, that it does not have as many features as the much smaller Galaxy S4. The Galaxy S4 costs a lot more, however, but the Galaxy Tab has a bigger screen.
- OS: Upgraded to Jellybean (4.1.2)
- Camera: Rear is 3MegaPixels, Front is VGA
- Battery: 7000mAh
- Display: 8.5" x 5.3", 1280 X 800 TFT
- Weight: 1.3 lbs
- CPU: 1.5GHz, Dual-core Krait, Qualcomm
- Memory: 16 GB of ROM, 1 GB of DDR2 SDRAM, Micro SD up to 32 GB
- Network: WiFi and Cellular (250 MB a month, $10 = $120 a year)
- GSM Quad-band: 850/900/1800/1900MHz UMTS Tri-band: 850/1900/2100MHz LTE Dual-band:17 and 4
- CPU: 1.9 GHZ, quad core
- OS: Jellybean (4.2.2)
- RAM: 2GB
- ROM: 16 GB
- Expandable SD: 64 GB
- 5 inch Full HD Super AMOLED display
- Camera: 13 Megapixel, and 2.0 Megapixel
- Weight: 4.59oz
- Battery: 3.8 volt, Lithium ION, 2600 mAh
Network for Galaxy S4: - LTE: Bands 1/4/7/17 - HSPA+/UMTS: 850/1900/2100MHz - GSM: 850/900/1800/1900MHz - Bluetooth - GPS - NFC - WiFi Direct
This is my old phone. I no longer own it. It has been replaced with my Galaxy S4.
- 1.2 GHz processor, Samsung C110
- Android 2.2, Froyo
- Super AMOLED Plus capacitive touchscreen
- 480 x 800 pixels, 4.5 inches
- 13.6 ounces
- Cameras: Rear: 8 MP Front: 1.3 MP