Smartphone Factoids

Smartphone Factoids
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Smartphones are mobile phones with high-resolution cameras, Windows-like operating systems and applications (or 'apps'), and GPS location capability.  There are more and more of them each year, and they are playing a bigger and more important role in our lives.  In recognition of that, Time Magazine recently featured a series of articles on the subject.  Here are some things gleaned from those articles.

• The 2012 presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney now have the ability to place mobile ads, often at a discount from desktop ads, anywhere large groups of targeted voters are gathering-- on a college campus, at a NASCAR race or even at a parade in a swing neighborhood.

• Wary of possible complaints of privacy invasion, neither the Obama nor the Romney campaign has yet announced how far it will push the new data-gathering side of mobile technology.

• Three facts about text messaging: it is almost completely spam-free, it's personal, and nearly every message gets read.

• In the not-too-distant future, the theory goes, we're going to pay for everything with our cell phones-- and it will be quicker, smarter and safer than using paper money or plastic.

• Square's “Pay with Square” app, now accepted mostly at mom-and-pop shops, but heading to 7,000 Starbucks locations this fall, lets you pay without removing your phone from your pocket.  It communicates wirelessly with the tablet or phone the merchant uses to accept payment, and the cashier IDs you by checking your name and photo.

• If someone wanted to create a global system for tracking human beings and collecting information about them, it would look a lot like the digital mobile device network.  It knows where you are, and-- the more you text, tweet, shop, take pictures and navigate your surroundings using a smartphone-- it knows an awful lot about your whereabouts and what you're doing.

• In recent years, the average time it takes the U.S. Marshals Service to find a fugitive has dropped from 42 days to two.  There is a mobile device connected to every crime scene.

• An unusual alliance between liberals and conservatives is pushing a bill to impose the same requirements for getting cell tracking data as those that are in place for when cops get a warrant to search a house.

• A typical smartphone has more computing power than Apollo 11 when it landed a man on the moon.

• In many parts of the world, more people have access to a mobile device than to a toilet or running water; for millions, this is the first phone they've ever had.

• In the U.S., close to 9 in 10 adults carry a cell phone of some description, leaving its marks on body, mind and spirit.

• A tool our parents could not have imagined has become a lifeline we can't do without.  Not even for a day-- in most cases, not even for an hour.  In Time's poll, one in four people check it every 30 minutes, one in five every ten minutes.  Three quarters of 25-to-29-year-olds sleep with their phones.

• The Time Mobility Poll found that one in five Americans has asked someone on a date by text, compared with three times as many Brazilians, and four times as many Chinese.

• More than nine in ten Brazilians and Indians agreed that being constantly connected is mostly a good thing.  America's 76% was actually the lowest score.

• Some school districts-- such as those in Meriden, Conn.; Allen, Texas; and Hanover, Pa.-- have developed BYOT policies that allow kids not only to take their mobile devices to school but also to access school networks.  These districts-- all in relatively wealthy enclaves where a new iPad causes no stir-- enforce strict rules.  Kids can use devices only with a teacher's permission; activating a screen during a test can be grounds for expulsion.

• A YouthBeat survey from the first six months of 2012 found that 13% of children ages 6 to 10 already own a cell phone, but 12 is the most common age for first-phonedom; that's when 18% of kids get theirs.

• A study of the University of Chicago iPad project published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that patients got tests and treatments faster if they were cared for by iPad-equipped residents.

Source: Time, Volume 180, Number 9, August 27, 2012. Get it at a newsstand or check it out in your local library.
September 3, 2012

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