This week in mobile, we are taking a look at what mobile broadcasting means for cellular providers, how T-Mobile is responding with a crowdsourced coverage map, how Vine is attempting to catch up on quality, and what Sony’s foray into augmented reality looks like.
Mobile Broadcasting and Unlimited Data
Over the last few weeks, we’ve covered how Meerkat and Periscope are poised to explode the world of live mobile video streaming. As millions of users flock to these apps, their data plans may not be able to keep up. Granted, users have watched a combination of live streamed and pre-cached HD video on mobile for years, and video has similarly been shared through Skype, FaceTime, etc.
However, users are broadcasting on Meerkat and Periscope much differently than Skype callers: they’re going outdoors, sharing their bike rides with the world. As a result of this, “40 percent of Meerkat streams are on carrier networks,” not Wi-Fi.
As users begin to hit their data caps after a few days of mobile streaming usage, two things become clear. First, streaming service providers need to optimize their codecs to be just as, if not more, efficient as existing streaming video apps. Secondly, global level mobile carriers to offer truly unlimited data packages marketed to mobile streamers will likely enjoy an influx of hyper-engaged users.
The Next-Gen Network Map
As mobile users continuously consume an ever-increasing amount of data, so traditional worries of cellular reception have fallen to data network coverage concerns. While most mobile providers rely on tried-and true cellular coverage maps, T-Mobile is moving to a new mobile coverage map that pulls user-collected data to display network speeds, not simply network coverage.
While it would be interesting to see similar maps from other carriers, just its existence is an ode to our appetite for mobile data, particularly in this new mobile streaming era.
Vine Plays Catch-Up on Video Quality
In a world where full HD mobile video is commonplace, Vine is finally catching up, albeit slightly. Previously, Vine videos were only 480p. With the update, Vines will now record in 720p, a marked improvement. However, with most current-generation mobile phones now supporting 1080p or greater video, Vines are still a bit behind the times, opting to sacrifice pixels for the sake of faster social sharing.
Sony Launches Augmented Reality Glasses
Sony’s new SmartEyeglass is now available in 10 countries, including the US. Similar to Google Glass, Sony’s iteration overlays relevant information, such as directions, on the glass for users. The device functions as an extension to a phone, showing directions and text messages in monochromatic text. What the glasses make up for in price, they lose in style: they’re clunky and feature a large cable connecting the glasses to the controller.
Of course, this model has been labeled a developer edition, designed to attract developers to create on their platform, so there is hope that the consumer edition will be more desirable.
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