Tech conferences are starting to feel more and more like fashion week except with techy rockstars instead of actual rockstars and souped up smartphones instead of expensive threads. What we’re trying to say is — they’re a big deal. Starting today in Barcelona, the annual Mobile World Congress launched some major innovations in the way of all things mobile. Smartphones are getting bigger, SD cards are getting smaller and we’re getting more and more excited to update our gadget collection. Here’s the biggest news so far.
1. Samsung Ditched the Plastic: Even though Samsung’s technology has always been powerful and its displays pretty impressive, their phones have always felt cheap. Take it from an Android user, no matter how nice the inside is, when you feel like you’re carrying around a toy phone, your mobile capabilities feel stunted. That’s why people are really stoked (us included) about their new Galaxy S6 launching in April. It’s all metal and glass, baby. And, hold the phone (pun intended). The “Edge” model has a curved screen.
2. SD Cards are Getting Smaller and Bigger: Compared to floppy discs, micro SD cards are getting so small, they’re basically disappearing. At MWC, SanDisk unveiled a card that’s basically the size of a tiny icon on your phone’s home screen. And get this: it holds 128GB. Our ’90s selves are flipping out. Before you go ditching all of your storage cards though, just know that when this microSDXC hits the market this year, it’s expected to cost $400. Ouch. We may just wait until the even faster version launches in hopes that the price of this one will go down. (via The Verge)
3. HTC is Getting a Workout: It’s time to add a new fitness band to the bunch. Soon, HTC will be releasing Grip and it’s not for the fair-weather fitness fan. It’s built to be 100% sporty, perfect for the worker fiends and marathon trainers. With its built-in GPS, it definitely stands out from the other bands on the market, but that’s not its only star feature. Apparently, it will also be able to detect what type of workout you’re doing: cycling, running, swimming (yes, it’s waterproof), etc. It doesn’t have a heart rate monitor because HTC believes that the tech available for that feature isn’t up to par quite yet. (via Business Insider)
4. Ford Has a Smart Bike?: As part of their new Smart Mobility Plan, Ford is trying their hand at smart bikes. They gave MWC a peek at two foldable, battery/pedal-powerd prototypes by the name of MoDe. The bike can connect to iOS navigation, charges your phone and detects your heart rate so it can kick on the motor when you’re getting worn out. We’ll keep an eye out for the day when we can test ride one of these puppies, but until then, we’ll be crushing on the world’s smallest foldable bike. (via The Verge)
5. There’s a New OS in Town: It’s not all Android and iOS. Based on the Android platform, there’s an open-source operating system called Cyanogen that has people in the tech world buzzing. Overall, it has many more capabilities in addition to better performance. At MWC, they’ve announced a plan to hit the mainstream by way of partnering up with Qualcomm. What does this mean for you? You don’t have to be a hacker or tech fiend to get your hands on Cyanogen’s fancy functionality. They’re releasing a phablet called Hero 2+ which will run the newest version of the Cyanogen OS and have stylus capabilities. (via The Verge)
6. Google Gets a Phone Service: If you live in any of Google Fiber’s flagship cities, we’d be lying if we said we weren’t totally jealous. But soon there may be even more ways to ditch annoying outdated contracts for more services than just Internet. Rumor has it that by summer, Google will announce their own phone service. There’s buzz that they’re partnering with Sprint and T-Mobile to make it happen.
We’re not exactly sure in what capacity Google will further its influence on the smartphone-sphere, but their Senior VP, Sundar Pichai reported: “We don’t intend to be at the carrier scale.” It’s more likely to be innovation in the way of cell features rather than an altogether new cell service. We’ll keep our ears to the ground (or wherever we get the best service) on this one. (via The Verge)
7. Tablets with Get Big Sound: You may watch movies on your tablet for convenience, but soon your mobile theater experience may be getting more intense. Lenovo launched an impressive line of three new tablets at MWC at really great prices — we’re talking $200 max. But one of the tablet’s most impressive features is its Dolby Atmos technology and multi-speaker soundbar. The slim little speaker is a mini version of what you may get for your home sound system, except it gives you that full sound experience on the go. (via Engadget)
8. Android Pay is a Go: Google confirmed rumors that they’re working on a new mobile payment system called Android Pay that’s built for versatility. Pichai hopes that with Android Pay, people will develop innovative services on top of the framework to set up models that fit their business the best. Google Wallet fans, don’t fear. That will still remain its own entity, but it too will be built on top of Android Pay. (via The Verge)
9. Sony Gets Thin(ner): The Xperia Z4 tablet is so thin, it may have you rethinking that iPad 2. Just maybe. It’s a 10-inch tablet that’s the same thickness (or should we say thinness) of the iPad 2, but even lighter. It runs on an Android OS, and has a snap-on keyboard that turns it from a super thin tablet into a super thin laptop. The Verge reports the keyboard feels kind of cheap though and the keys are a bit too small to make it fully replace a laptop experience. But, it does last a really long time without charge — 17 hours of video playback — which may make it all worth the gamble, if only to upgrade keyboards down the line. (via The Verge)
10. Mark Zuckerberg Is Boring: If you’ve been reading along like “I’m missing everything. I should be in Spain playing with all of the gadgets,” then rest assured — because a bunch of people attending Zuckerberg’s keynote sure did. Throughout the audience, people were catching up on their sleep right in the midst of of his talk on Internet.org, a service Facebook is creating to bring the web to the entire globe. It’s an awesome mission, but when gentlemen from the project’s mobile partnerships came out and started getting into the nitty gritty tech talk, leaving Zuckerberg as a mediator, some people basically declared it nap time. (via Business Insider)
What is the world of mobile still missing? Let us know what you think in the comments!
(Feature image via David Ramos/Getty)