It’s been another eventful couple of weeks in the world of smartphones, with new phones, phone deals and operating systems, snippets of the Steve Jobs biography, and even some good news about health and mobile phones. Let’s start with that.
Phones don’t give you cancer. The Institute of Cancer Epidemiology, Denmark, has just completed a massive, long-term, comprehensive study involving over 350,000 long-term mobile phone users. They found that the phone fans, even the ones who’d been heavy mobile users for more than a decade, had no higher risk of any form of cancer developing than non-phone users. The World Health Organisation now officially places the mobile phone use cancer risk as around as serious as the cancer risk from coffee – that is, there is a faint possibility of a connection, but an unproven one. So get texting, phoning, and apping, with no more fear than you have when you down a cappuccino.
Steve Jobs was a peace-loving hippie type, except when it came to Android. A few excerpts from the Steve Jobs biography, “Steve Jobs”, by Walter Isaacson, have become available, and they make for fascinating reading, touching on Jobs’ passion for improving the design and user-friendliness of technology, his unashamed use of psychedelic drugs (he says that his use of LSD allowed him to develop his out-of-the-box thinking), and his hippie roots (the biography portrays him as a lifelong anti-authoritarian and Beatles fan, who coined the name Apple after getting into a fruitarian diet in the 1970s).
Perhaps most controversial of all is his hatred of the Android OS, and his fervent belief that Apple should use all available resources to destroy Android. He particularly despised HTC’s Android smartphones, regarding them as so close to the iPhone that they amounted to “grand theft”. This hatred was the root cause of the various courtroom battles in the last couple of years, in which Apple sued or was counter-sued by HTC, Samsung, and/or Motorola, at various times.
Motorola sharpened our appetite for RAZR. Rumours of a relaunched RAZR handset have been around for a while, but the official announcement came recently. The new RAZR is claimed to be “Faster, Thinner, Stronger, Smarter”, and it really does look quite special. It’s down to personal taste whether you prefer the super-thin, sleek composite steel and Kevlar look of the RAZR, or the one-piece machined aluminium cases of the latest HTC smartphones, but if you’re looking for a top-notch Android handset, the RAZR is likely to be up there with the best of them in performance terms.
Codename: Ice Cream Sandwich. Google’s newest version of the Android OS, currently known as Ice Cream Sandwich, but officially Android 4.0, is on the way and looking good. Almost every native Android app has had minor improvements, the user interface is a lot better, and there are several new features, including experimental face recognition (which has admittedly not been working too well so far in demos).
BlackBerry says sorry. Research in Motion, the BlackBerry manufacturer, has been falling over itself to apologise to customers discomfited by the recent outage. With an offer of $100 of free apps to anyone left without a service, as well as promises of improved fail-safe systems, RIM is definitely looking stronger than it was. Whether the improvements and freebies will be enough to keep the company at the forefront of business smartphones for much longer, remains to be seen.
This is a guest post by Simon Drew. We Thank Simon Drew for this wonderful article.