TechMan: Bigger phones are the next big thing

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Remember the big brick mobile phones in 1980s TV shows like "MacGyver?" Well, big phones, in a different form, are back in style.

The New York Times reports from the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, Spain, that handset makers introduced a number of big-screen smartphones -- from 5 diagonal inches to more than 7 inches, which is only about an inch smaller than the screen of an iPad Mini (7.9 inches).

Samsung says its research found that people liked bigger-screen phones because they wanted a device that was good for handwriting, drawing and sharing notes. (Asian-language speakers find it easier to write characters on a device using a pen rather than typing. Samsung has sold millions of big-screen phones in Asia.)

The makers believe that there is a demand for bigger phones in Europe and the U.S. also.

Handset makers say people may prefer to carry a larger phone instead of both a smartphone and a tablet, thus spawning the moniker "phablet" for these phones.

Winds blowing west from Mount Olympus: We dodged Titan, the latest storm given an arbitrary name by the Weather Channel. This year's list of storm names is from Greek mythology; Titan being one of the gods who ruled the Earth before the Olympians, led by Zeus, overthrew them.

The next storm will be Ulysses, which will surprise us by sneaking in disguised by cirrus (mares' tails) clouds in a wooden sky.

TechMan thinks all this is a little silly and self-serving on the Weather Channel's part. The channel admits the naming is in part a gambit to get more social media play, because the names make hashtags for the storms easier.

Is nothing safe from cyberthieves? The Post-Gazette's Jon Schmitz reported that Port Authority police have "several pending arrests" in a fraud case involving the new ConnectCard electronic fare cards. Details are slim on how it was done. The cards contain a chip that communicates with the fare terminal and does not carry any personal information.

Take that Netflix: Amazon has released five pilot episodes of original shows that could be made into series, based on viewer ratings. The pilots are free to watch for Amazon Prime members. This is the second set of pilots Amazon has released.

TechMan watched the pilot for "Bosch," based on Michael Connelly's novels about a hard-case Los Angeles detective, all of which TechMan has read. I like the pilot and hope it makes it to a series. More at amazonoriginals.com.

Are you winking at me or opening an app? A half-ounce computer that is worn on the ear like an earring is being tested in Japan. The computer has a microchip and data storage and allows the user to navigate through software using facial expressions, such as a raised eyebrow, a stuck-out tongue, a wiggle of the nose or by clenching teeth. The plan is for the device to be available in April 2016, says phys.org.

Siri, order me a burger: Apple's iOS in the car, a system designed to put Apple's Siri, maps and other services in automobile dashboards, will be featured at the Geneva Motor Show this month, according to the Financial Times. Ferrari, Mercedez-Benz and Volvo will all show off models that incorporate it. Those companies were named last year in a group of early adopters that also included Honda, Nissan, Chevrolet, Kia, Hyundai and Jaguar.

Send comments, contributions and corrections to pgtechtexts@gmail.com.


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