Read & Trust Magazine - March 2013

Aaron Mahnke, Read & Trust:

We are surrounded by mobile computing devices. This month, some of the best writers in the world of mobile computing weigh in on what this new era means for us.

For this month's issue of the Read & Trust Magazine, Dave Caolo, David Chartier, Federico Viticci, and I wrote about our respective takes on so-called "mobile computing."

As you might guess from my preamble — and from reading this site over the past few months — I took significant issue with the delineation between mobile and traditional computing and shared my opinions regarding the modern technological landscape.

Rather than framing "computing" as an entity which can be characterized as "traditional," "mobile," or, God forbid, "post-PC," I make the argument that such perspectives are reductive of the far-reaching capabilities of modern technology. Citing Google Glass, the iPhone, and even the traditional PC, I sought to blur the lines between each of the disparate devices and instill some semblance of awareness of the possibility spanning across all of these devices.

More than my piece, however, the March issue holds writing from some phenomenal writers who're utterly deserving of your support.

The March issue of the Read & Trust Magazine is available now.

Apple Gains Prepaid Partners for iPhone

Virgin Mobile

Brian X Chen for The New York Times:

Sprint said on Thursday that the iPhone would become available this month on Virgin Mobile USA, its service for prepaid plans, where customers pay for the service as they use it. The cost will be considerably less than the fees contract customers pay monthly to use an iPhone — once you get past the upfront price of the phone itself.

Customers who opt to buy an iPhone with a prepaid plan will have to spend $650 for the iPhone 4S, or $550 for the older iPhone 4. But the baseline $30 monthly fee includes 300 minutes, unlimited data and unlimited text messages. By contrast, AT&T and Verizon no longer offer unlimited data plans, and their contract customers pay upward of $90 a month to use an iPhone.

From personal experience, I have a deep-seated mistrust of prepaid phone plans. Although you gain immediate ownership of your desired device, the costs involved with its sustained use have a distinct tendency toward unwarranted growth.

In a world governed by the intelligence and interconnection of mobile devices, relying upon a non-contractual deal seems destined for trouble. When rolling out new network technologies, optimizations, and general consumer-facing benefits, the prepaid plan is likely the last to gain from any such improvements, and the first to undergo significant overhaul when the market demands it.

In other words, although unlimited data is available now, do not misconstrue this as an element of permanence to any such prepaid plans.

Virgin Atlantic Offering Mobile Calling Between London and New York

Virgin Atlantic

Adi Robertson reports for The Verge:

Virgin Atlantic Airways has announced that its new Airbus A330 planes, and later others, will let passengers make and receive cellphone calls while in the air. The company is using AeroMobile, a GSM service that’s also signed deals with Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, and others; calls can be placed in-flight any time except during take-off and landing, and passengers are charged standard international roaming rates. This partnership makes Virgin the first UK carrier to allow voice mobile calls during flights, although competitor British Airways currently offers text service.

Upon reading The Verge’s headline for this article last week, I felt utterly optimistic. Several days later — and following a solid forty days of repeated air travel — I feel less than enthused at the prospect of exponentially increased quantities of traveler obnoxiousness.

"Is Ice Cream Sandwich Out Yet?"

Vlad Savov for The Verge:

This is the vexing question that has been percolating inside my mind while reviewing the Sony Xperia S: is Google's Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android out yet? The instinctive answer would be quick and affirmative, what with the Galaxy Nexus having been on sale for months, but go to your local phone store and try to count the number of non-Nexus ICS handsets currently on sale. It won't take you long since the answer will almost invariably be zero.

I've been asking the same question for quite some time.

"All Mobile Traffic Isn't Equal"

Following the revelation of AT&T's potential solution to the problem of increased mobile data usage, The Wall Street Journal has an overview of all of the measures being taken to counter the average mobile user. As you'd expect, the findings are disconcerting to say the least. Anton Troianoski reports:

[...] Network technology companies are busy producing equipment and software that will allow mobile traffic to move at different speeds and be billed at different rates, so carriers can create more complicated data plans.

At the mobile-phone trade show here this week, Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co. offered a glimpse of such a technology. One tap of a tablet screen running Huawei's software opened up more Internet bandwidth for a user paying more. Another function would let cellphone carriers limit which websites certain users can access, or charge them differently for different Web domains, a spokesman said.

Not only is this a huge blow to net neutrality, but more so to the way we view the Internet altogether. Carriers are essentially looking to embrace and market the despicable offspring of pay-as-you-go billing and draconian parental control for all users in order to wrestle control back into their court.

Innovation in the mobile sphere has provided a catalyst for development throughout the technology industry. Rich web services, imaginative UI concepts, and location awareness have all been given rise thanks to the increased viability of the mobile platform. And yet, for every ounce of innovation, there is blatant push back and vitriolic fear visibly seeping from most mobile carriers. Innovation has penetrated their domain and it has occurred outside the bounds of their control.

Seeking to right this, carriers are relying upon antiquated visions of the mobile marketplace and increasingly pathetic attempts to cling to power - the carriers repositioning themselves from useful services to obnoxious roadblocks against sustained innovation.

Hamstrung apps, deeply integrated limitations, and novel means for increasing billing characterize a market at complete odds with the average consumer.