If the size of the crowds packing the Microsoft booth demos is any indication, there is a lot of interest in Windows 8.
Maximized for touchscreen interaction, the Windows 8 user interface makes ample use of slide commands (which can be achieved via mouse or keystrokes for those not using a tablet).
The colorful tiled interface, dubbed “Metro Style,” is ubiquitous across all new Microsoft platforms including Windows Phone, and allows for a high degree of customization.
Cool features include automatically hibernating any open apps that are not actively being used, for maximum processor efficiency.
The ability to search and share content across multiple platforms (from hard drive to phones and social media) is also handy, as is a snapping function that keeps multiple windows open and locked in position.
Microsoft says there has already been 3 million downloads of the developer preview and a Windows Store opens in February when the public will be able to download a free trial version.
The commercial release remains unannounced, but is expected by the end of the year.
Alcatel-Lucent is showcasing a new app called the Fan Cam, developed through its ng Connect Program with member companies 4DK and AFP.
The idea is for a wireless provider like Verizon or AT&T to partner with location-based entertainment (sports, music, and more) to further engage fans by allowing them to share user-created material.
Fans use their phones to register as participants at live events, where they could then access content like instant replays, fan-uploaded photos and participate in real-time contests and receive special offers.
Spectators can live-stream an event or game from their seat and the compiled content can be marketed afterwards or shared with friends. It can also be analyzed by an editor during the event and shown on the big screens.
“They’re doing all this content sharing on things like Facebook. Why not engage them directly?” an Alcatel-Lucent rep explained.
Intel has announced deals with Motorola Mobility and Lenovo to create phones and tablets powered by the Intel Atom family of chips.
At his keynote, Intel CEO Paul Otellini was joined by Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha to announce a “multi-year partnership” that would see phones and tablets hit the U.S. market in the second half of the year.
Otellini also shared the stage with Lenovo senior VP Liu Jun, who said his company would release an Atom-equipped Android phone, the K800, that will be sold in China during the second quarter.
The promised 8 hours of 4G talk time with standby time of 14 days make this a formidable package. A 10-inch Atom tablet will also be made available in that country.
Otellini talked up the Atom Z2460 platform, formerly known as “Medfield,” which was specifically designed for smartphones and tablets. It offers Wi-Di, a wireless technology that sends content from phones and tablets to TV screens.
Some are wondering how the Motorola venture will play out, given that Google — which in August announced plans to buy the company — has phone deals mainly with manufacturers that use chips made by ARM Holdings.
The presentation also included a demo of the upcoming 32nm Intel Atom SoC for tablets and hybrids running on Microsoft’s Windows 8, and news that Dell would be releasing its first ultrabook, the XPS 13, which features Intel’s Core i7 processor.
Motorola’s new 4G Droid Razr Maxx for Verizon is built for longevity, with 21 hours of talk time — or the streaming of eight movies — before the unit needs to be recharged.
The company unveiled the phone at CES, just hours before Intel announced Motorola as one of the first mobile providers that had agreed to use its Atom chip (however, the Droid Razr Maxx will not be using the Intel chip).
The 3300mAh battery just about doubles the industry average (roughly 1700-1900mAh).
At 8.99mm the Maxx is slightly thicker than the 7.11mm of the prior version.
Other specs remain largely unchanged: a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display, dual-core 1.2GHz processor and Android Gingerbread 2.3.5 (upgradeable to Android’s next gen Ice Cream Sandwich).
Motorola is also touting Motocast, an app the company describes as a “personal cloud,” allowing mobile devices to access content on a home or work PC. Both the Droid Maxx and the Droid XY Board tablet feature Motocast. An IR transmitter on the Board enables it to control the television.
In August, Google announced its intent to purchase Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion.
Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 chip makes its smart TV debut with Lenovo, whose senior VP Liu Jun emphasized the chip set’s speed for gaming. The unit will run on Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich and incorporate voice controls in the remote.
CEO Paul Jacobs also revealed in his keynote that the company is partnering with Microsoft to demonstrate pre-release Windows 8 devices using Snapdragon S4 processors with AT&T’s 4G LTE connectivity.
The offerings underscore what seems to be an advantage by robust and low-powered cell phone chips over more traditional PC processors (at a CES in which one of the major subplots is Qualcomm’s face-off with Intel).
Jacobs predicts mobile will become a $1.3 trillion industry and believes emerging markets will account for roughly half of all smartphones shipping by 2015.
New products also include an e-reader from Hanvon for the Chinese market that incorporates full-color video at 1024×768 and uses Mirasol display technology.
Qualcomm has teamed with Sesame Street Workshop to offer “augmented reality” technology Vuforia, with a tablet camera that “recognizes” designated 3D objects and populates them in 3D screen environments.
The keynote also included an impressive display of health-related devices, including a phone that displays a cardiogram onscreen when the user applies fingertips to two sensor pads — and an app that measures blood glucose in real time.
Qualcomm announced that in three years $10 million would be awarded to the developer of the best self-diagnosis medical tool.
AT&T announced at CES it would be the first to deliver 4G LTE Windows Phones, including the Nokia Lumia 900, expected in spring running Windows mobile 7.5.
Windows 8 is expected to be released sometime this year, but no date has been set.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop was joined onstage at a Monday press conference by AT&T’s Ralph de la Vega and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to talk up the phone that is expected to mark Nokia’s return to viability in the U.S. market.
“The whole push is to build a strong, third ecosystem in the smartphone market with a differentiated point of view,” Ballmer said, noting there are currently about 50,000 Windows Phone apps on the market.
CNN, ESPN, Univision and “Sesame Street” are among the content providers that have partnered with Nokia as it strives to offer customers a rich user experience. “We’re not just building phones, we’re building content ecosystems,” Elop said.
Elop touted as significant the mobile apps associated with CNN’s iReport, “the largest citizen journalism network in the world, with 1 million registered users and more than 1,800 field missives filed last year.”
Nokia will also be making a 4G LTE Windows phone for T-Mobile.
NPR has debuted an app designed specifically for Ford SYNC AppLink, the voice-activated platform that works by connecting smartphones to vehicles.
The deal is interesting on two fronts: as a case study in how traditional content “networks” might make their products available a la carte — and for Ford’s hands-off positioning as third-party technology enabler that is facilitating cool uses for smartphones while leaving it largely to the handset manufacturers to upgrade and maintain the platform environment.
Ford AppLink allows developers to create in-vehicle mobile applications that assume unique functionality when Android, iPhone and Blackberry devices are docked to the dashboard via USB. Android devices also work via Bluetooth.
Ford’s apps feature a variety of sports, information and financial programming.
NPR is “one of the most popular features on iTunes, accounting for 7 out of 10 downloaded podcasts,” according to the network’s Kinsey Wilson.
Ford’s SYNC Services launched in 2009, providing voice-activated access to a cloud-based network of information including traffic, news, sports, weather and more. In 2010 Ford added SYNC AppLink — allowing smartphone-equipped customers access to a growing number of popular apps.
Where to see it: North Hall, Grand Lobby, Lower Level 2230
Henry Ford technical fellow Jim Buchowski said his company plans to continue its pioneering role in the “smart car” space as a means of differentiating its product from those of other manufacturers by “creating new experiences for consumers.”
Ford will continue to take a somewhat platform-independent approach that sees the focus more on software and apps rather than hardware.
“Our approach will continue to be not building the technology into the vehicle, because once you’ve got a 3G modem built-on and 4G comes along, you’re stuck,” Buchowski said.
Initiatives Ford is showcasing at this year’s CES include onboard health monitoring devices that will help drivers with medical issues. Things like back-up cameras that can make it easy for one person to do things like attach a trailer hitch are also a focus.
These are extensions to technologies Ford has rolled out over the past two CES shows. SYNC, which integrates Wi-Fi hotspotting directly into the vehicles, allows the car to seamlessly interface with phones, mobile music devices and navigation systems (including voice commands) and MyFord Touch, which puts controls at the driver’s fingertips.
Ford is utilizing the Windows platform. At present there are more than 3 million vehicles equipped with SYNC.
Where to see it: North Hall, Grand Lobby, Lower Level, 2230
San Francisco-based Toktumi, Inc. — the company behind the Line2 app that provides second phone lines for iOS and Android smartphones — is now debuting a version that works with the iPad.
“It can make calls where AT&T’s signal is weak, like indoors. It can turn an iPod Touch into a full-blown cellphone. And it can ruin the sleep of cellphone executives everywhere,” wrote David Pogue of the original app in The New York Times.
The app uses new numbers or can port over existing local phone numbers. Users can make calls over Wi-Fi or 3G.
It is being marketed as a tool for small businesses that need a second line. It also includes a contact management organizer.
The $9.95 per month fee includes unlimited calls to the U.S. and Canada, and unlimited texting (no contract required).
The manufacturer is billing it as a more professional-looking alternative to products like Skype and Google Phone because it uses traditional phone numbers. Also touting it as a “cheap” way to add a second line.
Where to see it: Innovations Design and Engineering Showcase, LVCC Grand Lobby