During two conferences, some key mobile news came out -- namely, that mobile malware will be a concern for Android and that mobile payments are coming sooner than expected.
Mobile Payments Become a Reality
Last week, the Mobile World Congress wrapped up a week of visionary keynotes, action-provoking panel discussions and cutting-edge product and technology exhibits, all aimed at defining the mobile future. Of the many topics discussed, mobile payments proved to be a popular one.
Previously, we’ve talked about how the future of mobile payments rested on Near Field Communication, a wireless technology with a range intentionally limited to just a few inches. Due to logjams within the wireless industry, mobile wallets -- though a popular concept -- seemed slow to materialize. However, NFC chips are now cheaper and now it’s likely that millions of NFC-equipped phones will be in consumer hands in the U.S. and Europe before the end of the year. Anxious to make mobile payments a reality, many smartphone companies were eager to make their intentions known.
Research in Motion expects that "many if not most" Blackberrys will have NFC chips this year, while Google’s Nexus S already has one, and the company's latest Android software for that and other phones has NFC support. Both Nokia and Apple have speculated that their next generation of smartphones will also have NFC chips.
While providing access to NFC technology does simplify mobile payment systems, allowing users to send money through an app or text message, there are still many details to sort out. Wireless carriers and credit card companies are sure to muddy the waters by dictating their own rules so that they can cash in on what may become the new future of mobile.
Android Becomes Mobile Malware's Primary Target
At RSA 2011, hosted last week in San Francisco, mobile security was a popular topic. In fact, most security software companies either released at RSA or announced plans to release a mobile security app of some sort. A chief concern among them included mobile malware. While mobile malware isn’t yet a major threat to smartphones, most agree that that there is a primary target: Android.
Security companies seem to think Android is the next big malware target, thanks to its openness and the fact that it runs on so many devices. Unlike closed platforms, practically anyone can write an app and distribute it without having to go through a review process, making phones vulnerable to security risk that can threaten a user’s sensitive information.
While a universal solution isn’t available and not likely to developed anytime soon, the best defense is due diligence in researching the quality of the apps downloading and keeping tabs on your information. If the future of mobile includes malware, security software companies will continue to focus on protecting users’ information.
FedEx + HP + Blackberry = Printing Made Easy
While the Mobile World Congress and RSA was busy examining the future of the mobile, FedEx and HP were bringing the future to mobile users. Now, through an ePrint app from the Blackberry App World, users can print from a Blackberry at many FedEx Office locations. The app enables wireless printing from the smartphone to printers in the FedEx store.
HP ePrint handles email attachments in Microsoft Word, Powerpoint or Adobe PDF format. By opening the email with the desired attachment, users can select Print from the Menu options to find the desired FedEx location. FedEx will then email a retrieval code that can be entered in the machine at the selected FedEx store. While the app is free, users will need to pay FedEx printing costs.