The Rise of the Mobile Device

I maintain two blogs. There is, of course, my SIP blog. I also have one that is as far from SIP and IP technology as you can possibly get.

They draw very different audiences, but over the past few years I’ve seen the same change in how those blogs are accessed. If I look back at 2010, I find that most of my readers came in on Windows PCs and Internet Explorer. As the months went by, I saw a few more Apple users. I also saw IE being replaced by Firefox and Chrome.

However, the biggest change I’ve seen over the years is less access via computers, and more people reading my blogs on smartphones and tablets. The view counts for iOS and Android have skyrocketed. In fact, if I lump Windows and Mac together, their numbers are now smaller than the combined totals of the other devices.

Perhaps this is anecdotal, but I don’t think so. The way that I personally access digital data mirrors my blog statistics. While I still find it significantly easier to type blog posts—such as this one—on my Lenovo Twist, I turn to my iPhone for most everything else.

I read and write emails, browse the web, run specialized applications, watch videos, play music, and access maps and navigation all day long on my iPhone. My PC has become the machine with the big keyboard, mouse, and two monitors.

Anyone who has been following this blog knows that I also run a number of SIP clients on my iPhone. It has gotten to the point where it is now my go-to device for enterprise communications. My Avaya 9641 SIP phone is great, but my job requires me to be mobile and an Ethernet cable only reaches so far.

This blog entry originally appeared on SIP Adventures, and is reprinted with permission.

Speaking of distance, I am writing this blog from Terminal 3 at the Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. While getting away from the cold of my Minnesota home should be reason enough, I came out here to work with a major hospital chain on upgrading their aging communications infrastructure.

A good deal of my time was spent talking about line cards, gateways, and trunks, but mobility was also a major agenda item. I expect that moving communications away from traditional black and gray wired telephones is on the minds of every health care institution.

Doctors come into the hospital carrying tablets and smartphones. Nurses are on their feet all day long moving from one patient to the next. They all need to communicate and they all need to do so on the run.

Healthcare providers have the responsibility of protecting their patient’s privacy and personal medical data. Any communications device, protocol, and process must have security built in from the ground up. Transport Layer Security (TLS), Secure Real-Time Protocol (SRTP), Session Border Controllers, SIP authentication, and encrypted data storage all work together to provide that secure foundation for even the most stringent of hospitals.

If I am lucky I will be back here in Phoenix before the end of winter and I am certain that these conversations will continue. Better yet, I hope that the migration from their older TDM equipment begins in earnest. There will be growing pains, but the rewards are significant.

Okay, my plane is at the gate and I need to start packing up if I want to get onboard before all the overhead bins are filled.

FAA regulations require me to power down and store my PC, but my iPhone will stay on and connected until they close the cabin doors. One more reason why this little mobile device of mine has become my closest technology friend.

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Five For Friday: 5 Reasons Why Android KitKat Is Awesome For Enterprise

With the latest version of Android (4.4 KitKat) just barely over the horizon, businesses may be wondering what’s to come. While KitKat is currently only available on Google’s new Nexus 5 smartphone, it’s expected to roll out to other devices in the upcoming weeks.

Photo credit:Google

Android owns an 81 percent share of the global smartphone market, so it’s safe to say that enterprise mobility and “bring your own device” policies will be affected by the new things KitKat has to offer.

So will KitKat enhance productivity, or bog it down? Here are the five reasons we think KitKat will be great for enterprise mobility:

1. Print From Your Phone: Not being able to print from a smartphone makes for a particularly frustrating mobile office experience. Kitkat allows you to wirelessly sync with some HP and ePrint printers to print photos, documents, and web pages right from your mobile device. Gone are the days of emailing yourself a link or a doc, so you can print it later from computer.

2. Record Your Screen:  A new, preloaded recording app in KitKat allows people to record their actions on their screen and then save to an MP4 video file. This holds immense potential for customer experience. Contact center agents can now diagnose an issue with a mobile app or service by simply asking customers to record the issue on their phone and attach it to their support ticket.

3. Customize Your Volume: Poor audio can ruin an important phone call or video conference. KitKat includes a loudness enhancer, which allows you to set a custom profile capable of tuning your phone’s volume for voices, boosting volume and improving audio quality. That’s definitely a plus for those of us who take office calls whenever and wherever.

4. IR Blaster Support: IR Blaster is a little-known feature that’s getting a big upgrade in KitKat. IR Blaster is a infrared transmitter that turns mobile devices into remote controllers for other gadgets.

Android 4.4 allows IR Blaster support for third-party apps, which opens the doors for many different remote control possibilities. With so many different devices at the office or at your home desk, you’ll be able to control them all with the universal remote you always have with you: Y
our phone.

5. Google Now Has Been Improved: While this is a feature that may only be accessible on the Nexus 5 for awhile, it’s worth mentioning. Google has improved its voice recognition system Google Now by 25 percent.

Early reviews say it’s a big real-world improvement, with fewer incorrect results and the ability to choose from a selection of other results if Now isn’t pulling up exactly what you ask for. On top of that, Now can be activated by simply saying, “OK Google” to the launch screen.

Google is allowing a small group of developers to use the Google Now API to enable their third-party apps to be findable by Google Now. Searching for apps, documents and schedules will no longer have to be a process that involves you scrolling endlessly through menus.

You won’t be able to completely replace your laptop with your smartphone or tablet while you’re on the go. But KitKat certainly makes it easier to get by without it. And with more and more Android devices on the market, as well as more companies embracing BYOD, it’s clear KitKat will have far-reaching effects on enterprise mobility.

iOS 7's Nine Killer Enterprise Features

I came across a great SlideShare deck over the weekend entitled, “The iOS 7 Apple Event for the Enterprise – that Never Happened.” Created by San Francisco mobile design software vendor Moovweb, it imagines a presentation by Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiling iOS 7’s enterprise features in front of an audience of CIOs. Here is that list.

(Are you, like me, vacillating between upgrading to an iPhone 5S and jumping over to a larger Android phone like the LG G2 or HTC One? Then check out the 5 things I love and HATE about the iPhone 5S.)

– TouchID fingerprint authentication. Employees with weak passwords are the bane of security-conscious companies. Fingerprint-based authentication is a big boost.

– Free iWork mobile apps and in the cloud. Apple has made its Microsoft Office killer free and cloud-accessible, just like Google Docs. While big companies wedded to Microsoft’s enterprise licensing program are unlikely to drop Office anytime soon, this could help smaller firms standardized on Apple hardware to dump Office once and for all.

– App Store Volume Purchase Program. Enterprises can now buy apps and books for their iPhone and iPad-using employees, keeping the rights to those apps and books if the employees leave, so that they can transfer them to other workers. This may not seem like a big deal for $0.99 apps, but it’s a big deal for pricier B2B apps, especially when we’re talking about tens of thousands of employees. Previously, companies had to go through a process of buying redemption codes that it would hand out to employees for them to go out and download the apps on their own. That was complicated and left open a number of uncertainties (did the employee ever get the app? for one).

– Managed Open In. A cryptic phrase meaning that companies can force employees to open email attachments in specific, corporate-managed applications, rather than some possibly-insecure or overly-sharing app of their own choosing. This improves security for the company. 

– Enterprise Single-Sign-On. This smooths the process of granting iPhone-wielding users access your company’s back-end applications.

– Per-App VPN (Virtual Private Network). This allows companies to boost security for select iOS apps and their data as they are transmitted through the Internet. 

– Easier Deployment of Mobile Device Management (MDM) Software (SAP Afaria, Airwatch, Good Technology, etc.). ‘Nuff said.

– Improved Data Security for App Store apps. ‘Nuff said.

– Location iBeacons allow the locations of Apple device users to found with much greater precision than GPS or Wi-Fi. This is useful for retail stores, which may want to beam coupons to users but vary them depending on what aisle they are in and what merchandise they are browsing.

Five for Friday: Things I Love and Hate about the iPhone 5S

I’m an iPhone 4S owner who, until this week, had convinced myself that my next phone would be an Android phablet. The LG G2 had been atop my short list. But then the reviews of the iPhone 5S came out, and iOS 7 was released, and suddenly I’m like Hamlet again. To upgrade to iPhone 5S or not – that is the question… 

While I haven’t touched an iPhone 5S in person, that hasn’t stopped me (or tens of millions of us) from forming strong opinions about it. Here’s the 5 things I love and hate most about the iPhone 5S.


1) I love the iPhone 5S’s speed. While Apple’s iPhones and iPads get along with two CPU cores, top-of-the-line Android devices from Samsung, LG, HTC and Motorola have all sported 4 CPU cores – and for almost two years to boot.

While mo’ cores is mo’ better in the PC world, it translates as better PR than actual performance in the mobile. The reason? Unlike on PCs, we don’t multitask on our smartphone or tablet much. Also, mobile apps (and platforms) aren’t generally written in a way to distribute tasks to take advantage of all 4 cores at once. Finally, more cores and faster CPU speeds (in terms of GHz) both accelerate battery drain.

The iPhone 5S may still only have two cores, but according to blogger king of benchmarks Anand Lal Shimpi, it outpaces every Android device on the market today by at least 25%. That’s due less today to the iPhone 5S’s 64-bit silicon brain (32-bit iOS apps haven’t been rewritten to take advantage of 64-bit) and more due to how Apple has optimized iOS 7 to run on its custom A7 chipset. 

Not only is the iPhone 5S faster than every Android device, it’s also 43% faster than the iPhone 5, 4x faster than the iPhone 4S, a whopping 8 times faster than the iPhone 4, and an incredible 41x faster than the original iPhone. It even matches desktop-class CPUs from Intel and AMD in speed, according to Shimpi. That’s a first.

2) I hate that it’s called the iPhone 5S but it doesn’t have a 5-inch screen.
The primary reason I am thinking about going phablet is for the larger screen. I do a lot of reading on my phone. And I’m convinced that that reading is accelerating my 40-something presbyopia. Plus, I’m a tall guy. A 5-inch+ phone fits perfectly in my mitts.

While there are rumors that the iPhone 6 will have a larger screen, the iPhone 5S keeps the same 4-inch, 1135×640 screen as the iPhone 5. Meanwhile, the LG G2 has a 5.2-inch 1920×1280 screen. So for a 28% increase in weight, the LG G2 has 185% more pixels than the iPhone 5S. And the LG G2 still only weighs 5 ounces. Hmm, I’m talking myself back into the G2…

3) I love the idea of iPhone 5S’s enterprise-friendly fingerprint sensor.
If you’re at all like me, you suffer from password inflation. In the name of security, so many Web sites and apps today demand you come up with new passwords every 90 days containing an ever-more-complicated mix of numbers, capital letters and symbol (read: garbage) characters. It’s impossible to keep track of them, which is why I’ve resorted to solutions like Dashlane. Fingerprint sensors would be the ideal replacement for passwords for device authentication. They’re easier for users AND more secure. The iPhone 5S could jumpstart this trend. And wouldn’t everyone, especially security-conscious IT directors swamped by BYOD, welcome that?

4) I love the iPhone 5S’s cameras improved low-light features. Smartphones already take great photos in outdoor daylight. It’s indoors and other dimly-lit conditions that they struggle, due to their small light-capturing CMOS sensors and lenses. Personally, I take more than half of my photos in these conditions. So I like how Apple invested heavily here. It enlarged the sensor on the 5S while resisting the temptation to get into a megapixel race it can’t win (against phones like the 41-megapixel Nokia’s Lumia 1020. Rather, the iPhone 5S’s 8 million pixels are 34% larger for better shots in low light. The iPhone 5S also has a better lens, a new image stabilizer, facial recognition, and its flash now shoots two bursts of light for better skin tones and colors.

Apple took a similar approach on its front-facing camera used for video chatting. While keeping its still/video resolutions constant at 1.2 megapixels and 720p HD, Apple made sure the iPhone 5S performs better at low light. The iPhone 5S’s front-facing camera doesn’t match the best Android phones spec-wise – the Sony Xperia Z’s 2.2-megapixel camera can record at 1080p. But I’m willing to wager that performance in real life between the two models is nearly indistinguishable. 

5) I hate Apple’s smug marketing. Apple loves to talk up how innovative the features are on its devices (while deriding other phones as “junk”). Yet, apart from the fingerprint sensor, none of the features on the iPhone 5S are groundbreaking. Many are actually late. I like iOS 7’s new look and feel, but designers know that Apple was playing catch-up here versus Windows Phone and Android. Same with the iPhone 5S’s image stabilization, facial recognition and other camera features – Samsung has had these features for awhile.

Apple is also able to bulldoze through and make us forget about features that it overhyped and yet remain mediocre. Like Passbook, which was hailed when it was introduced as the first true mobile wallet. I never use that. Or the biggest disappointment, Siri.

Comedian David So articulates my feelings about this in the funniest way I’ve seen recently: (note: NSFW for crude language, non-politically-correct ethnic caricatures):

The way I reconcile it in my mind is this: Apple isn’t the cutting-edge innovator it portrays itself to be. And judging by its catch-up with iOS 7, they aren’t the best designers around. Still, the thing I have to hand to Apple still has the best track record for delivering consistent overall excellence of experience. I credit that to all of the unglamorous under-the-hood engineering, integration and packaging work Apple does. Is that enough to keep me from switching? As the journalistic clich?oes, only time will tell. What say you?