A Smartphone is a kind of cellular phone serves not only to process phone calls and text messages, but also browse the Internet, send and receive E-mail, and perform a variety of other tasks, often using third-party programs (called "apps"). Smartphones essentially combine handheld computers with cell phones in functionality.
Since telephones have gone wireless, the have continued to improve. What was once contained in a backpack became something that could fit in a large pocket and used repeaters. They continued to shrink until sleek phones existed which were little larger than a pack of cigarets. No longer was an extendable antenna used, either, since cellular phone towers were placed more conveniently and radios become more efficient and powerful. Then in the 21st century, this trend seemed to reverse itself—cellular phones started getting larger again.
The technology was not devolving, however; instead, it was merging. Along with cellular phones has existed handheld computers/PDAs, tablets, cameras, and media players. Five devices were being combined into one, but considering this significant change, the size only increased slightly. In 2007, Apple Inc. released what would soon become the smartphone standard—the iPhone. Although it had problems, it quickly became popular. Some smartphones were lost completely in the rush, including PalmPilot, while others began making significant completion for Apple. regardless, Apple has continued to improve their smartphones, and other companies have yet to steal the market.
There is no clearly defined criteria for a smartphone, but in general, the following are expected from one:
- Multitasking - The phone should be able to have multiple programs and functions running simultaneously.
- Internet access- even if the service provider does not allow Internet access, the phone should be able to use it.
- Third-party "app" support - The user should be able to install programs of their choice onto the phone.
In some cases, though, phones support some but not all of these features. When there is some question about this, most people decide based on multitasking, but such a decision could be disputed. Others just say that if the operating system has a name, it must be a smartphone. While this latter method is rather crude, it is usually accurate.
- PalmPilot/Palm OS
As with any new technology, smartphones have not been without problems. Not only have the systems sometimes had stability issues, but also the hardware and external factors have made some progress difficult.
When making a smartphone, the focus is almost always on size—either that of the phone as a whole, or that of the screen it possesses. However, components can only be made so small. Additionally, the smaller theses parts are, the more fragile they often become.
Another problem is power. The more equipment a phone uses, the more power it will tend to consume. When a smartphone is designed to be small, it is difficult to supply it with a battery that will hold enough power for the phone to be practical. When small, high-voltage batteries are used, they also tend to wear out quickly, requiring more frequent charging. While motion and inductive charging methods are options being studied, these methods have proven largely ineffective so far. For these to work, the phone would need to be moved around much more that it ordinarily would be, or a large induction coil must be attached to gather any significant power from the surroundings. While these strategies may be a part of the future, smartphones currently require a certain irreducible size of chemical battery.
There are a variety of external factors that negatively effect smartphone progress as well. Terrain is one such factor, since it can interfere with communication. As a result, the phone's transceiver must be larger and more powerful than a flat landscape would require.
Another much greater external threat is that of malicious people and software. Now that external software may be installed, and the unrestricted Internet is able to access these phones, there is a significant security risk. For many people, a smartphone contains all the details of their life. It must, therefore, be secure. This consideration has been the driving force behind a myriad of choices in development. Even with these security considerations, information from smartphones is still often lost through malware, hacking, or physical theft.
Sometimes partly due to certain serious external issues, there are also occasionally detached problems which should have been detected and fixed but were not. As development continues, the public can only hope that these issues will also be caught, even though the focus is often elsewhere.
It can be very convenient to have a phone system which is very similar to the computer system people generally use. Apple Inc. has gone a long way in this direction, making their iMac, iPhone, iPod, iPad, and all other devices use very similar systems. This enables the user to learn just one basic layout in order to use any Apple device. Windows took steps in this direction as well, with their Windows 8 operating system. This was designed to work on both desktops and touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones. There are two main problems with this strategy, only one of which is external.
- Similar systems are only convenient for most when the systems are practical and easy-to-use of all devices. Apple has done a pretty good job of doing this, but Microsoft was not so successful. In the end, Windows 8 did not sell very well, and they had to rush to fix a few of their mistakes (with Windows 8.1).
- Similar systems tend to have similar vulnerabilities. While an infected Blackberry smartphone would probably be unable to infect a Windows computer (unless the malware were designed to use use Blackberry as a vector to attack Windows), an infected Windows Mobile system would have an easier time of infecting a Windows computer when they are connected. Apple devices have the same issue, if not more so, since their systems are so similar and interconnected. If an infected application is installed on an iPhone, it can then spread to an iMac next time it is connected. Then if an iPod or smart watch is connected to the laptop as well, they can become infected. Some unfortunate people have lost their identities in this manner, because in a single stroke, the person's entire digital life can be taken.