As 2010 draws nearer, techies can expect a key year for communication technology with Apple set to launch a new iPhone, Microsoft to launch its Microsoft Mobile 7, and there's the Google Android 2 on the way.
Launched in China in October 2009, the Apple iPhone 3GS is now conquering the world's most populous mobile phone market and is set for a great start to 2010. But Apple even now is already working on the phone's next generation.
Matthew Bath, the technology editor of WHICH Magazine, says "You can't escape the fact that the Apple iPhone has absolutely revolutionized this industry in two years and whatever Apple calls its next version, which should launch in about July 2010, it's going to be probably still the most anticipated launch of the year."
The iPhone is not without market rivals. Most notably, Google Android is now offering a competitive operating system, with key applications and gadgets. This will be expanded in 2010, with the launch of Android 2.0, also known as Eclair.
As well as being Bluetooth-capable, the new version will include the option to have multiple accounts on one device, a search function for saved text messages and multi-touch support for the virtual keyboard.
Microsoft Mobile, which will launch its Mobile 7 platform next year is another growing contender.
Downloadable software means you'll be able to totally customize your phone. And with all these different software gaining popularity, it becomes simpler to check social networking sites from a mobile phone.
Facebook, Myspace and Twitter have all created applications for the various mobile platforms, which have proved to be a huge success.
"Mobile social networking is going to be a big story for 2010. These are mobile phones that are always connected to the Internet and they can pull together your Facebook, Myspace and Twitter feeds all into one interface so that you can constantly keep in touch with friends and family wherever you go," says Bath.
Being able to check social networking sites on the go, as well as being constantly connected to the Internet, makes a mobile phone feel more like a mini computer these days. Phones like the Nokia N900, for example, enable users to have multiple applications running at the same time.
Luke Peters, deputy editor of T3 Magazine says that lots of phone companies will be aiming for increased processing speed in 2010.
Peters says: "I think another main area where mobile phones are going to grow in 2010 is the actual computing speed. Nokia recently said that they, with their new N900 phone, they don't want it to be regarded as a mobile phone, they see it as a portable computer, that is a small, handheld computer, so with more processing speed, more RAM."
This means, Peter explains, that these tiny handheld devices can act like normal desktop computers. "You can multitask applications, so you can write an email and then quickly switch to Spotify, and then quickly switch to an online image editing application. The more power that a mobile phone has, the more features and applications you will be able to take advantage of in 2010."
A very popular application is Google Maps, which users can easily access on their mobile phones to find out their exact location. But it goes further than that, with the latest applications offering extra information which is directly linked to where you are.
Luke Peters refers to this concept as augmented reality.
"Augmented reality is an idea that came around really in the start of 2009 and allows, now that you can track wherever your phone is, whether it's an iPhone 3G or a Google Android phone, it means that companies can layer information over realtime video to show you exactly what's happening in your surroundings," Peters says.
"So potentially you could be walking down the street and point your iPhone at a coffee shop and it would say well Starbucks is offering you a free coffee if you come in right now. Or if you're traveling around a city and you want to know what a building is all about you can point your phone at the building and it will overlay real-time information just to give you some idea about your surroundings and where you are," he explains.
There are also applications that help you locate your friends by sending you their location on a map.
Matthew Bath confirms that the emphasis is really on software next year. "Again 2010 is a story of software," Bath says. "You're going to see a big rise in downloadable stores that enable you to download software to totally customize your mobile phone, whether that's finding out where you've parked your car to scanning barcodes in your local supermarket."
But do people really make use of all these innovative applications?
Nicholas Davis says he mainly uses his Blackberry Bold's satellite navigation function. Tony Taylor says his phone has a drum-kit application, which he really likes since he's a musician.
But Taylor's friend Dan Frasier-Betts says he has got the ultimate function on his phone. "My phone is a mirror," he says and holds it up proudly. - AP