For mobile payments to really take off, the functionality needs to be available to far more than merely the latest devices. For this reason, the SD Association, a non-profit that sets memory card standards, is pushing a means to use microSD cards to make otherwise incompatible devices compatible.
The SD association calls this technology smartSD. The technology apparently enables a secure element for Host Card Emulation, a necessary step for creating digital copies of payment cards the way we've seen in Google Wallet and Android Pay. SmartSD uses a device's native NFC, removing the need to embed such technology into the card directly.
Today at MWC, Sony announced four new connected gadgets which it hopes will let people look up from their phone screens more and engage the world around them. The products include a bluetooth earpiece, a wearable camera, a vertical projector, and a friendly robot, which are respectively called the Xperia Ear, Xperia Eye, Xperia Projector, and Xperia Agent.
Three of those products are actually just concepts: only the Xperia Ear has an expected launch date, and it won't come out until later this summer. The remaining products — the Eye, Projector, and Agent — are nowhere to be seen here at MWC and it will likely take some time for them to get to market, if they do at all.
Here at MWC in Barcelona this morning, Sony announced an all-new series of Xperia devices: the X series. Sorry, folks - no Z6 to be found here. But the X Performance may pique your interest regardless. We had a chance to play with the X and XA (the X Performance was not being shown, just dummy units), so let's talk specs and first thoughts.
Earlier this evening in Barcelona, we had our first chance to look at the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge in the flesh. Unfortunately, it wasn't under ideal conditions, and I don't feel comfortable putting down a large number of thoughts about the devices just yet. We need some more time with them. But, we did manage to record a video demonstrating the phones, as well as snap a gallery of photos for your perusal, should you be so interested. We'll have a full hands-on of the S7 and S7 edge later this week, but for now, here's our first look at Samsung's new flagship duo.
A thermal camera smartphone may not sound like the most useful thing to you in the world, but there's little doubt a niche market for such a thing probably exists, not to mention the undeniable cool factor. And by cool, I mean hot. As in heat. Temperature jokes. The CAT S60 (our announcement post here) features the same thermal imaging sensor found in FLIR's FLIR One dongles for Android and iOS devices, and that's a damn good system - we reviewed it.
By slapping it inside a smartphone, FLIR has eliminated one of the major complaints about the device.
Time zones can be a harsh mistress, especially when there's a big phone announcement on the other side of the planet. Thus, the LG G5 was announced on an inconvenient Sunday morning for those of us in the US. If you were unable to catch the festivities, now you can relive it on YouTube.
In addition to the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, Samsung also announced an extra-special accessory at its Unpacked event. The Gear 360 is Samsung's first action camera, and not content to compete with GoPro and other conventional models, the company designed a camera that records video in 360 degrees at once. This is achieved with a ball-like body design and two sensors, each paired to a fish eye lens that captures 180 degrees of action. The camera and Samsung's software then stitches the video together for easy 360-degree presentations and VR playback.
The Gear 360 isn't the first 360-degree camera on the market, but with Samsung's marketing muscle behind it (not to mention integration with the company's smartphones), it could become the most popular.
Samsung's flagship announcements have become cornerstones of the Android upgrade cycle. Just like last year, the company has announced two new Galaxy-branded phones at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona: the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. Both phones are modest bumps over their previous designs, both in terms of hardware and style, but there are some notably improved features that power users and practical consumers will both appreciate.
The new phones bring back two of the most-missed features that were dropped from the S6 generation: expandable storage (via MicroSD cards) and water-resistant bodies. The former comes from a new "hybrid" nano-SIM tray, which houses both the SIM card and the MicroSD card in a single metal tray that slides out via a standard SIM tool.
Mobile World Congress has become the premiere stage for new phones and tablet introductions, and since Lenovo saves its Motorola portfolio for the latter half of the year, it's time for the first-party devices to shine. Well, shimmer. Perhaps "gleam" would be a better word. Out of five new phones and tablets introduced on the show floor, none of them are particularly mind-blowing, and the phones are unlikely to make it to stores in the US or Europe. Anyway, let's take it from the top:
Can you even? I cannot even. I am sitting in a giant room in Barcelona with hundreds, possibly thousands, of chairs, each equipped with a hard-wired Gear VR (likely for antitheft purposes).
A box under my seat reads "do not touch." I touched the box. Nothing happened.
We'll be hearing all about the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge shortly. And I will probably leave this press conference with a headache and a sore nose. But I will be able to say I went to the first press conference conducted [partially] in virtual reality. Which is something, maybe? You can watch the live stream below.