Mobile Internet Growth

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Update: Steve Jobs has passed away. Perhaps no other person has been so instrumental in advancing the mobile Internet and technology in general. All computer users owe Steve their thanks for his vision and his ability to implement so many technological improvements. We miss him already. iSad.

Every day there are 100,000 or more smart phones activated. These devices give their owners the power of the Internet in the palm of their hands. The dawn of the mobile Internet age is here.

Because of the advances in technology, smart phones are more useful than ever. They have high quality screens that display in vibrant colors. They have a great deal of processing power. They have a lot of internal storage. The best thing about them, however, is the ability to run "apps" or applications built for them.

Apple, Android, Blackberry or Windows?
There are essentially four main varieties of smart mobile Internet devices now. Apple sells the iPad, RIM sells Blackberry and many other manufacturers sell devices that use Android or Windows. Each of these devices can run apps built specifically for them. Luckily for users, most apps are available on more than one platform. There are significant exceptions for the iPad, however, as many more apps are available for that device. Hopefully the iPad app designers will expand their offerings to other platforms. Still, there are a huge number of apps available for every type of mobile Internet device.

Technology at a crossroad
The mobile Internet devices are small computers that offer various features. Some devices have more features, others less. Global Positioning System, or GPS, is a common feature built into most mobile devices. Apps are available which merge the GPS data with maps for land or marine use. This renders many of the older dedicated GPS devices obsolete. Users should note, however, that some apps can only be used if the device is within a cell coverage area. Some apps can be used in remote locations but may have reduced capabilities. Check to make sure.

Telephone use is also changing with the advent of powerful mobile Internet devices. While many of the devices can be used to make ordinary phone calls to mobile or land lines, some cannot. In fact, the iPad is one that can't be used to make a standard phone call. As might be expected, there is an app for that. iPad owners can use the Skype app to interface with the standard telephone system. This allows users to make telephone calls over the Internet when their device is located within a Wi-Fi area. Skype charges are minimal and can be paid by the minutes used or by subscriptions.

Since handheld devices are becoming so popular, the use of laptops and netbooks is declining. The quality of small displays is excellent now. For Internet surfing, users quickly find that a small screen is practically as enjoyable as a laptop for web browsing. Many web sites have established alternate pages for mobile devices. These allow the user to get site information easily using the Internet app.

Owners of smart phones can go to various app store locations to browse for, and obtain, apps. There are many free apps and many with various pricing levels. There are even certain apps that offer both free and paid versions. Usually the free version includes some advertising that is not overly distracting. Depending on the app, and its importance to the smart phone user, it may be worth it to pay the asking price. Often these applications are quite inexpensive. Many, many of them are available for less than a dollar. Considering the functions that they offer smart phones, they represent an incredible bargain.

Like all new computers, mobile units are very popular for game playing. In fact, the top selling app at the primary Android market is a game. "Cut the Rope" has been installed on over 40 million devices. The game is quite popular as well based on the great many five and four star ratings given by satisfied customers. "Angry Birds" is another game app that has done remarkably well. It is a free program which displays advertising at certain points. It has been installed on more than 300 million devices.

Apps can also be educational. In fact, the popular "Cut the Rope" game is based on a physics puzzle. Angry Birds also involves physics during play. Players have to understand trajectories and reactions. There are many other titles available to educate users. These can be used to assist school children with geometry, chemistry and other sciences or for fine arts instruction and many more.

Certain applications may actually improve the collective knowledge. As an example, astronomy has been largely ignored by many during the past 50 years or so. This is perhaps due to the difficulty in observing stars in most areas. Light pollution obscures many of the fainter stars. The free Google Sky Map allows users to hold their device up to the sky. Using the GPS, the display notes the names of stars and constellations that are located directly above the unit. With it, each celestial body can be identified. The Sky Map displays planet names as well. It can even identify features not visible to the local area. The Southern Cross, not visible in the Northern Hemisphere, can be located when the Sky Map is pointed at the ground in the direction of that constellation. Whether users find this feature useful or not is up to them but it does demonstrate the utility of the application.

Various health apps are available for smart phones as well. The alphabet can be learned by youngsters. French or other languages can be taught. In fact, many titles purport to teach French, Spanish or others in a month of use. One satisfied user reports that significant ability with Spanish was obtained after only 12 lessons. Various instructional titles are available for technology as well. These can teach users about office programs such as Word, Excel or PowerPoint. There is even an application that helps project managers prepare for the PMP exam.

In the earliest days of smart phones, storage for applications was a problem. This is largely a non-issue now due to the advent of 32GB memory modules. Many devices can use standard memory sticks which increases the ability of the device to store applications. Users should check their device, however, as many can use expanded memory sticks but not for applications. Instead, photos and videos can be put in the external memory, freeing up internal space for the smart phone applications.