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Despite a Slowdown, Smartphone Advances Are Still Ahead

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Sergey Brin Project Glass

Google cofounder Sergey Brin wore a Project Glass prototype at a charity function in San Francisco in April.

Credit: Corbett Lee/Foundation Fighting Blindness/AP

Apple's new iPhone 5 has faster chips and a bigger screen, but these improvements lack the dramatic impact the first iPhone had in 2007. However, analysts say breakthroughs in smartphone materials, software, and batteries could lead to substantial changes in how smartphones look and function in the near future.

"Five years of incremental change can be very substantial change five years later," notes Harvard University professor David Yoffie. For example, while Apple continues to improve its Siri voice-activated virtual assistant, Google is developing its own voice search products. Another new technology from Google is Project Glass, eyeglass-like frames that can display texts, emails, and other information from a smartphone on a miniature screen in front of the user's eye.

Analysts say wearable computers could lead to a new category of applications known as augmented reality. "A lot of people are thinking about augmented reality as a possible game changer in mobile computing," says University of California, Santa Barbara professor Tobias Hollerer. Several companies also are developing fuel-cell technology that could keep smartphones charged for weeks. "Whenever it comes into being in a shape and form that’s implementable for smartphones, that will be a dramatic shift," says analyst Chetan Sharma.

From New York Times
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