How Mobile Technology Evolved in the Past 20 Years

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Mobile Phone EvolutionFor the past two decades, mobile technology has evolved around our society’s needs. From making calls to monitoring a patient’s health remotely, smartphones have become essential tools to run our daily lives. They became so pervasive that people can’t live with them anyone. Now, we’re entering an age where different devices are starting to merge via cloud computing, and high-speed broadband connectivity.

As we move towards a more mobile future, let’s look back at the last twenty years and see how this technology evolved, which helped us shape the Digital Age.

Mobile Communication: 1G to 4G

The first generation (1G) mobile communication was first launched in 1977. Called the Advanced Mobile Phone System (AMPS), it helped the mass market communicate via cellular technology. However, it was prone to eavesdropping via a cellular scanner which allowed for cellphone cloning. A decade later, the second generation (2G) network was established and it used digital signals instead of analog. During this generation, more cell sites were established to accommodate the increasing number of users, SMS or Short Messaging Service was made available, and prepaid services were also introduced.

As more people used their phones for their daily tasks, the demand for larger data increased and 2G isn’t enough for it. With that in mind, the industry started its development of the next generation of mobile communication—3G. It was faster, leaner, and it allowed for mobile broadband data transmission over a cellular network. People can now listen to podcasts, watch videos, and live streaming on their mobile devices, thanks to 3G technology. It was also during this time that mobile internet was truly realized. But with the introduction of bandwidth-intensive applications and smart devices, the industry needed something better—4G.

4G or the fourth-generation cellular communication provides users with ultra-broadband Internet access. It paves the way for faster web access, gaming services, high-definition mobile TV, and cloud computing. In an article published on Verizonwireless’ website, 4G or 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) is clearly paving the way for the next wave of innovations. People can now access data in real-time, while improving the overall user experience.

From a “Brick” to a True “Smart Phone”

In 1983, the first commercially-available cellular phone was introduced—the Motorola Dynatac  8000X. Measuring 13 x 1.75 x 3.5, “The Brick”, as it was fondly called, let you talk for about 30 minutes and it boasted with 10-hours of standby time. But in 1993, IBM launched the IBM Simon Personal Communicator, which became the predecessor of our modern smartphone. It was a calculator, phone, pager, and an email device. The Simon was truly a power house during that time, but it was too big and bulky to carry around.

It was in 1996 when Motorola launched its new phone—the Motorola StarTac. Coined as the “Wearable Cellular Phone”, it was small enough to slip into your pocket and light enough to carry anywhere with you. Designed after the famous Star Trek Communicators, it had a clam shell design and it offered a discreet vibrate mode, instead of a loud and annoying ringer. However, things changed when Nokia unveiled their new phone—the Nokia 6110. Featuring a monochromatic display, it was the first phone to introduce Menu icons, an infrared port, and it was also pre-installed with their highly-popular game “Snake”.

Other phones followed like the Nokia 7110, which was made popular by “The Matrix” movie. The Handspring Treo had 16MB of internal memory, and it was the first one to offer the Graffiti Text Input. On the other hand, the Blackberry 5180 had a thumb keyboard, email, and it came with a headset. Modeled after the “Minority Report” movie, the Nokia 7650 was the first phone to feature a 4,096 color display and 30 ring tone options. The 7650 was also the first cellphone to include a built-in camera.

But 2007 was the year that changed everything, when Apple launched the iPhone. Its innovative design and use of a touch sensitive screen ushered in a new age of phones. Coupled with the App Store and iTunes, this phone still stands as the standard of modern smartphones.

Mobile devices aren’t just means of communication; they became integral parts of our lives. The evolution and revolution of these devices are just starting, and we will reap its benefits in the long run. With their nearly limitless possibilities, what can we expect from them in the next 20 years? Only time can tell.

 

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Facebook: “just the F, please.”

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FacebookFacebook has become one of the most famous brands on the planet. It’s completely unavoidable, far more so than Twitter – even your grandparents might be on it! A big part of the daily lives of hundreds of millions of people, Mark Zuckerberg’s college IT project has changed the social landscape forever and helped usher in the digital era. Out with the SMS, in with the Facebook message.

Their redesigned news feed has actually reduced the brand to something even more minimalistic than their existing site design: the Facebook logo is now just the famous “f” symbol. It’s great news for those who’d rather their feed wasn’t being partially taken up by the full name, but also proves a point that’s less than subtle – everyone knows what the “f” means, and new users are already aware of the service.

They’re also beginning to move away from text and focus on image sharing, which is definitely in tune with the view that today’s average internet user prefers pictures to words. A shame for those who love the craft of the written word, but for social, Facebook are bringing their A-game towards photos and other images, as services like Imgur continue to take off into low orbit in terms of popularity, while Facebook struggles to stay as valuable as it claims to be for its IPO.

They also want a better mobile experience, despite the app – an odd aim given that they already have mobile apps whether you’re tooling around on Android, iPhone or anything else – and feel like you should be able to access their social platform easily regardless of the device or software you’re using. Facebook are a company that really understands user desires, and while they do consistently raise red flags when it comes to data privacy/protection, as far as user experience goes, they’re headed in the right direction.

But are they becoming slightly too confident? Their IPO really didn’t go as well as they or anybody else had hoped, and their critics were proved to be right – their number of users is false given many accounts are fake, and the average Facebook user isn’t actually worth much money, if any at all. They were built on supplying services that are free, and as with Twitter, it has proven difficult to capitalise on their user base without being seen as extortionists.

They are however in the odd position of having no competition whatsoever for the service they provide, which, while something of a relief also means that it’s up to them and them alone to reinvent themselves and innovate. While the “f” move is more “look at us” than “here’s a new feature,” they’re definitely trying to simplify and streamline the reasons why people engage with the platform at all, and it’s an interesting step that shouldn’t be overlooked.