Four lessons from Mobile World Congress

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Mobile World Congress has been and gone for another year, which means it's time for us to look back on some of the biggest tech developments to come out of this year's show in Barcelona.

Don't be fooled by the name, though, because Mobile World Congress isn't just about our tiny mobile companions. It encompasses all of the latest smart devices, from smartphones and televisions to driverless cars and virtual reality.

Every year the expo is filled to the brim with innovations sure to make our lives that little bit more interesting. Curious to know what big changes could be on the horizon? Well, here's what we learned this time around.

Nostalgia reigns supreme

We're living in an era of nostalgia, and the key to our hearts (and our wallets) doesn't necessarily lie in putting out the best product, but rather in giving us something that tugs on our rose-tinted heartstrings. The movie studios have been doing it for the past few years, and now some of the biggest names in the mobile biz are getting in on the act.

Indeed, one of the biggest talking points from MWC 2017 was the unveiling of the new Nokia 3310, a reimagined take on the sacred, chunky mobile that made waves in the noughties. Dubbed a 'dumbphone' by most onlookers, it's hardly a supercharged handset, but what it lacks in power it makes up for in old-school appeal.

With BlackBerry also keen to remind us of days gone by with the BlackBerry KeyOne, a throwback handset that comes packed with a classic qwerty keyboard, it looks like we might be seeing more vintage reboots in the months ahead. Watch this space.

Bye Bye Buffering

What do you do when you're halfway through a legendary Netflix binge and you see the dreaded buffering symbol? That rotating circle of perpetual doom that seems to mock you from afar. Do you pray to the old gods and the new, suffer in silence, or (dare I say it) resort to watching Freeview?

Very soon the answer might be 'none of the above.' That's because Netflix CEO Reed Hastings recently said he intends to make buffering "a relic like that dial tone." Something we tell our kids about as they stare at us in wide-eyed horror.

Speaking during a Keynote session, the Netflix boss explained that the streaming giant is striving to improve its network servers, codecs, and content delivery mechanisms to effectively wipe out the buffering problem once and for all. It means that very soon, Netflix and other streaming services could become truly instantaneous for all.

Connectivity is King

First we got 3G. Then 4G became all the rage. So it's only natural that sooner or later, 5G would come along and make headlines. And it did just that on the show floor in Barcelona, with a panel of experts talking up the potential of the latest leap in mobile connectivity.

For most, the words '5G' might translate to 'an iPhone that's even faster.' That, though, would be underselling the technology's potential, because 5G has the power to revolutionise more than just our mobile, and could help pave the way for driverless vehicles, improved medical services, and more robust business infrastructure.

It's all about working towards a world that's fully-connected, and in the next few years expect to see the term '5G' filter into our everyday lives. If the experts are right, it might just be a game-changer.

Open-Ear Sound

Wouldn't it be great if you could listen to music without drowning out the world around you? Most earphones make that a physical impossibility, but Sony has been working on a pair of concept buds that look to address that very problem.

Dubbed the Xperia Ear Concept, Sony's new "open-style" earphones promise to give users a breakthrough listening style by delivering high-quality audio that doesn't drown out the world around you.

The Xperia Ears are only a concept as it stands, so don't expect to see them available for purchase anytime soon. That said, if Sony and other headphone manufacturers run with the idea, earphones could soon offer us the best of both worlds: razor-sharp audio that doesn't limit our ability to engage with the world around us.

Chris Kerr is a blogger with an interest in all things tech. From gadgets to gaming, he is always on the look-out for the next big thing. When not testing the latest FPS or RPG, he can be found watching Sean Bean films and contributing to publications including Gamasutra, Stuff and IB Times. Find out more at http://www.chriskerrwriter.com/.

 

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