Tag: mobile-phone interface

USB Type-C to be a no-worries device connection


Upcoming USB Type-C connector won’t have “right” and “wrong” sides | Gizmag

From the horse’s mouth

USB Promoters’ Group

Press Release (PDF)

My Comments

USB data cable

USB data / power cable to be eventually replaced with the USB Type-C data / power cable with the same plug each end

A new USB equipment connector is in the process of being designed and will be called by the USB Promoters’ Group by the middle of 2014. This is to cater for technology equipment that is becoming smaller and thinner while also allowing for quick worry-free connections.

This connection will be the same size as the existing USB Micro-B connector used on most smartphones or the Apple Lightning Connector that Apple uses on their latest iDevices. This will cater for devices that are acquiring an increasingly-low profile such as the smartphones, tablets or Ultrabooks or even peripherals like some external hard disks and keyboards.

The socket will be designed so that you don’t worry about which way you plug it in and the patch-cords will have the same connection on each end so you don’t have to worry about which end of the cable you are using, in a similar vein to the RCA connections used on most stereo equipment.

Of course, the standard will also define the patch cables that allow you to connect equipment that has the USB Type-C socket on it to equipment that has commonly-available USB connections like the Type A found on computers and USB power supply equipment or Micro-B connections found on the smartphones or USB hard disks.

As we are seeing the USB connection become the universal power-supply connection for many different gadgets. Here, the USB Type-C connection will also allow for scaleable power-supply and charging situations and to provide further support for improved USB bus performance. A commonly-raised question that could surface is the power-supply performance for particular USB patch cables especially as we find smartphones not charging as quickly with some cables compared to others given the same power-supply equipment.

Of course, this will cause a requirement for power-supply standards for mobile devices to be revised because of the current standard supporting only the Micro-B connection on the mobile equipment and Type-A on the power-supply equipment. As well, we will be ending up with USB Type-A to Micro-B and USB Type-A to Type-C as power/data cables for most of our gadgets in the near term.

Holden to add smartphone-linked network audio to their cars


Holden Adds Stitcher To Its Infotainment Systems, Pandora And TuneIn On The Way | Gizmodo Australia

My Comments

Previously I have covered the issue of Internet radio and networked audio in the automotive context and raised the possible scenarios that apply to this application. They were either a smartphone or MiFi device acting as a network router between a mobile broadband service and a Wi-Fi segment in the car with the car radio being an Internet radio; a car infotainment system with an integrated mobile broadband router; or a smartphone or tablet with the appropriate app working as an Internet radio or network audio endpoint and connected to the car stereo typically via USB, Bluetooth or line-level connection.

Vehicle builders and, to some extent, car-audio manufacturers are implementing a two-way setup which integrates the smartphone with the car infotainment system. In most cases, the link would be fulfilled by a Bluetooth wireless connection for control, communications audio and entertainment audio and, depending on the setup, an interface app installed on the iOS or Android smartphone that works with particular information, music and other apps.

Holden, like most of the GM nameplates around the world, have followed this path for their infotainment by introducing the MyLink system to the Barina CDX small car. Here, this would require the use of an iOS or Android smartphone with a bridge app linked by Bluetooth to the car. But the phone would be managed at least using the touchscreen on the dashboard. Initially the Holden solution is to work with the Stitcher Internet-radio platform but they are intending to have it work with Pandora and TuneIn Radio.

There is an intent to allow you to work your smartphone platform’s navigation function on the dash using the “BringGo” software so you are not needing to have the phone on a “cobra mount” if you want to use Google Maps or Apple Maps.

What I see of this is that vehicle builders are integrating your smartphone or tablet as a part of the vehicle not just for communications but for information, entertainment and navigation.

Improving the landscape for in-vehicle navigation using the home network

I was talking with a friend about the status quo with in-vehicle navigation options and what can be done about it. He was remarking about the way the vehicle builders don’t provide a smooth path for improving these systems through the vehicle’s service life.

The current situation

Typically the feature is rolled out in to mid-range to high-end vehicles as a standard option or an add-on option depending on the vehicle’s trim level. Then, if the vehicle owner wants to keep the maps in the system up to date, they have to take the car to the vehicle dealership and have the data updated there, which knocks them back by a decent amount.

It can be a problem when, in some countries like Australia where the roads aren’t likely to be icy, the service life of a vehicle i.e. the number of years between the time the vehicle leaves the factory and the time it ends up on the scrapheap tends to be in the order of ten years or more. In this situation, there isn’t the guarantee that an OEM navigation platform could be supported by the manufacturers for that duration whether in the form of new software or map data. As well, technology marches on with many improvements in this space and users of these systems can feel as though they are effectively “stuck” with these systems in their current form.

Similarly, people who buy portable navigation devices aka “GPS units” or “sat-navs” have to purchase map updates from the device’s manufacturer at a princely sum. It doesn’t matter whether the update is to add extra coverage or functionality to the device or update the maps therein.

Toshiba Thrive AT1S0 7" tablet

Toshiba AT1So 7″ Android tablet – an alternative to in-car or portable GPS units

The smartphone or tablet is making these devices less relevant due to the integration of a navigation solution which has constantly-updated maps that can be downloaded for free via the Internet. Drivers can then go to mobile-phone accessory stores and purchase aftermarket mounts that attach to the dashboard or windscreen (windshield) of the car no matter how old it is so they can easily and safely operate the smartphone or tablet from the driver’s seat.

What can vehicle builders do

If a vehicle builder wants to make these options relevant to the smartphone / tablet user, they could take one of a few paths.

One path that can be used as a cheaper option would be to use the MirrorLink system which allows the dashboard-based control surface to become a control terminal for the smartphone or tablet. This could use an Android or iOS app that works as a MirrorLink server for the handset or tablet.

Another, would be to provide a user-removable 7” Android tablet in a similar form to the previously-reviewed Toshiba AT1S0 tablet that installs in to a dashboard space and works as a car navigation system but updates itself from the home network or a 3G link. The tablet could also be a loading point for various “trip-computer”, advanced-navigation and infotainment apps like TuneIn Radio. This method also has the advantage of being sold as an option that dealers can supply to customers as a deal-maker when the vehicle is being sold.

The last option would be the integrated navigation option that has the ability to be updated via a home network or a 3G link. This setup could be monetised through the provision of advanced-navigation apps like branded “find-nearest” tools, tour guides or directories. As well, this can be used as an app platform in itself for developing software that appeals to all users or a subset thereof. Of course, the apps can be downloaded via the abovementioned home network or 3G link.

What can be done for aftermarket car infotainment

The aftermarket infotainment scene can use similar paths for improved smartphone / tablet relevance. This class has to appeal to vehicles built across a very long timeframe typically since the 1950s and, in the case of new vehicles that had integrated infotainment options, is catered for with conversion kits.

One path could be to supply 2-DIN “media” head units that work as MirrorLink terminals that work with MirrorLink mobile devices. This can be varied through the use of a 1-DIN unit with a retractable or satellite screen.

Another path would be a “media” head unit that has an app platform and the ability to update via a 3G or home-network connection. This could be furnished in the form of a 2-DIN unit or a 1-DIN unit with a retractable or satellite screen.

The last option would be a 1-DIN head unit that supports full integration with 5” smartphone or 7” tablet. The smartphone or tablet would be able to be installed in a dashboard or windscreen mount and link to the head unit via Bluetooth or USB, similar to the status quo for most smartphone / in-car infotainment setups. In this environment, both these devices can work together with navigation looked after by the smartphone or tablet and the head unit offering basic control options like volume control or content selection offered by knobs and buttons.


What needs to happen with OEM and aftermarket vehicle navigation and infotainment is that there has to be support for updating, upgrading and improvement. This could be facilitated through the use of open-frame platforms like Android or Windows RT; as well as constant update paths with access to complimentarily-available map data for Google and similar sources.

It also includes encompassing the vehicle in the home network when it is at home as well as linking it with affordable mobile-broadband services.

Mobile Users Becoming More Susceptible to Phishing Scams


Mobile Users More Susceptible to Phishing Scams – www.enterprisemobiletoday.com

My comments

Why are mobile (smartphone and tablet-computer) users more susceptible to phishing scams?

The main reason is that the operating interface on the mobile computing devices is totally different to the operating environment on a desktop or laptop computer.

One main reason is that most of these devices don’t have a large display area in their Web browsers or email clients due to them having smaller display screens. This leads to the software designers designing a “clean and simple” user-interface for software pitched at these devices with minimal controls on the interface; which eliminates such concepts as fully-qualified email addresses and URLs. A lot of these devices even conceal the address bar where the user enters the URL of the page to be visited unless the user directly enters a URL that they intend to visit. Similarly, the email client only shows the display name for the incoming email, especially in the commonly-used “list-view”.

It is also augmented by the lack of a “B-option” interface in a mobile operating system. This is compared to what is accepted in a desktop operating environment with functions like right-clicking with a multi-button mouse or using Ctrl-Click on a single-button-mouse-equipped Macintosh to gain access to a context-sensitive secondary menu. Similarly, all scientific calculators used an [F] key and / or an [INV] key to modify the function of formula buttons either to gain access to the inverse of a formula or obtain another formula.

Such an option would allow the user to select a “function” button before selecting the option or displayed item in order to open a context-sensitive secondary-function menu or select a secondary function.

This discourages users from checking the URL they intend to click on in an email or the fully-qualified email address for an incoming email.

What could be done?

The Web browser and email client could support “phish detection” which could provide a highly-visible warning that one is heading to a “phishy” Web site or receiving a suspicious email. This function is just about provided in every desktop email client that most of us use but could be implemented in a mobile email client. Similarly, an email service could integrate filtering for phishy emails as part of its value-added spam-filter service.

There could even be the ability to have a “magnifying glass” touch button on the browser or email-client user interface which, when selected before you select an email address or URL, would show the fully-qualified email address or URL as a “pop-up”. This would have the domain name emphasised or written in a distinct colour so you know where you are going. This same interface could also be in place if one enters a URL directly in to their Web browser.

The mobile browsers could also support the Enhanced Validation SSL functionality through the use of a distinct graphic for the fully-validated sites. As well, a wireless-broadband provider or Wi-Fi hotspot could offer a “phish-verify” proxy service so that users can see a “red flag” if they attempt to visit a phishy Website similar to what happens in Internet Explorer when a user visits a suspicious Website.  This is similar to how some mobile providers warn that you are heading to a website that isn’t part of their “free-use” Website list and they could integrate this logic in to these proxy servers.


In general, the industry needs to look at the various user scenarios that are or are likely to be in place to improve secure Web browsing and email. Then they have to enable user-experience measure that can allow the user to verify the authenticity of Websites and emails.

This is more so as the small screens end handheld devices end up as the principal Web user interface for people who are on the move. It will also become more so as the “10-foot” TV interface, with its large screen with large text and graphics, D-pad navigation technique and use by relaxed and mostly-tired viewers relaxing on comfortable furniture becomes a mainstream “lounge-room” interface for the Web.

TwonkyMobile app–another DLNA control point for your Android phone (VIDEO CONTENT)

Twonky Mobile app for your Android phone


Click on this link to view the video if it doesn’t show up on your device.

Direct link to the Twonky website

No doubt you may have decided to go towards an Android smartphone or tablet device and it may not have come with an adequate DLNA media app. There is another DLNA so

Judging from this video, I could see that the Twonky Mobile app can do what is expected of a DLNA control point app for a mobile phone or tablet device. It can even link with online content like podcasts or YouTube videos that you pull up through your Internet browsing as well as the content that is in your phone or DLNA media servers.

To get at this software, you would have to go to the Android Market and hunt for “Twonky Mobile” and is currently free for a short time.

Video demonstration clip of Nokia’s Terminal Mode in action

Previously I have mentioned about Alpine showing interest in implementing Nokia’s “Terminal Mode” mobile-phone interface standard in their car stereos, mainly as a competitor to the iPhone. Now more vehicle builders, including Volkswagen are registering interest in this technology to “show the mobile phone display” on the car dashboard and have come up with this video demonstration clip that VW had supplied.

The application that was mainly illustrated was to set up a phone call and plan a journey with your hands on the VW car stereo’s touch screen and all of this going via a Nokia N97.

It would be interesting to see whether other smartphone platforms like Android will implement the Terminal Mode technology as a way of providing control through the car’s touchscreen dashboard UI.

DLNA now one of the hallmarks of a standards-based mobile phone

News article – from the horse’s mouth

Mobile Handset Manufacturers Attain DLNA Certified® Status – DLNA

My comments

From this press release, I had noticed that the mobile-handset brands that have been considered of high value had also added DLNA, whether as a control point, media player / renderer or media server, to their feature lineup. This will mean that they will work with a DLNA-based home media network in a proper way, whether to play music or exhibit photos and videos existing on the phone on home AV equipment or become remote controls for home AV equipment.

These companies have also moved towards other standards-based activities like adopting OMTP standards such as use of a microUSB connector for power and data as well as a 3.5mm four-conductor jack for wired headsets. Most of these phones also operate their Bluetooth functionality in a purely standards-based way that will work, such as proper “object push” between phones. The different phones may work to a Symbian S60 or UIQ operating system, or the Android operation system or an inhouse operating system like Bada, but they work with other devices on a level playing field.

Compare this with Apple where the iPhone, considered to be the “coolest phone in town”, doesn’t work with other phones or peripherals unless you pay big money for “apps” or Apple-approved peripherals; or work out various “kludges” to achieve compatibility.

It will be interesting to see whether the smartphone market moves towards standards-based compatibility (use of OMTP standards like microUSB, proper Bluetooth behaviour, DLNA) or stay with what looks “cool” and move towards an ecosystem defined by Apple.

For me, I would certainly stick towards standards-based operation like DLNA if I was choosing a smartphone when I have an opportunity to upgrade my phone.

Phone integration for in-car audio – not just for the iPhone anymore


Nokia and Alpine integrating handsets into cars, bringing Ovi Maps to your dashboard — Engadget

From the horse’s mouth

Alpine’s press release

My comments

Phones like this one can now let the Alpine blast

Alpine, who has been considered the status symbol as far as car audio is concerned, have been one of the first car-audio manufacturers to provide phone integration for a phone platform other than the Apple iPhone, nowadays considered the status symbol for mobile phones. What they had done is to allow the Symbian-based Nokia phones similar to my N85 to work with the car stereos by providing access to Ovi Maps navigation, the music playlist, weather applets and more alongside the usual calling and phonebook functions.

They have achieved this through “Terminal Mode” which uses a “gateway app” installed on the phone and the phone linked to the system through a USB cable or a Bluetooth link. The phone’s apps can benefit from the larger display found in high-end car-audio installations.

The reasons I am pleased about this technology is that

a) the mobile phone that links with a car stereo for full functionality doesn’t have to be the Apple iPhone

b) there is an incentive for vehicle builders, car-audio manufacturers and handset manufacturers to establish a level playing field for achieving full functionality for mobile phones from the dashboard.

This can also lead to further functionality like Pandora, Last.fm, Internet radio, location-based services and extended navigation becoming available at the dashboard without needing to use multiple applications installed in a phone platform that you don’t have or on your car’s infotatiment platform.