The end of the smartphone?

“It turns out Microsoft is working on something similar. It filed some patents on the project and Unwired View dug them up.

There’s a big difference between what Microsoft is working on and Google Glass, though.

The most recent word out of Google is that Google Glass isn’t going to use “augmented reality” – where data and illustrations overlay the actual world around you.

Google Glass is actually just a tiny screen you have to look up and to the left to see.

Microsoft’s glasses seem to utilize augmented reality. In a patent illustration we’ve embedded below, you can see that the glasses put data on top of a live action concert and a ballgame.”

Could the smartphone be replaced by something even greater? We hope so, but it is never easy to know how long it will take. Eventually, the smartphone will be phased out for something greater, glass technology may be the replacement product.

Read more:

A new breed of 4G phones emerges

Mark Milian, CNN
By Mark Milian, CNN
Fri January 13, 2012 | Filed under: Mobile
Samsung's Galaxy Note for AT&T is one of about a dozen new 4G LTE smartphones announced at CES.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note for AT&T is one of about a dozen new 4G LTE smartphones announced at CES.

Las Vegas (CNN) — The International Consumer Electronics Show, the giant gadget convention that wrapped up on Friday, has brought some frustrating news for AT&T or Sprint customers who bought a cutting-edge 4G smartphone last year.

That phone will soon be outdated.

AT&T Mobility and Sprint Nextel unveiled some of the first smartphones that will tap into their new, even faster fourth-generation networks.

But wait, Sprint has been talking about its 4G network since launching one in 2008 followed by its premier phone, HTC’s Evo 4G, in 2010. And AT&T began adding “4G” to the names of many of its smartphones early last year.

Now, two of the largest U.S. cellular carriers are ramping up yet another 4G system. They will have LTE, or Long-term Evolution, to compete with the one Verizon Wireless launched more than a year ago.

T-Mobile USA says it has 4G, which is similar to AT&T’s old 4G, but the carrier has not talked about plans for 4G LTE deployment. (Get all that?)

Since AT&T and Sprint have already exhausted their usage of 4G in marketing, it’s unclear how they will explain to customers the major investments they’ve made to have the latest network technology.

“I don’t think the majority of our customers understand the monikers,” AT&T executive Glenn Lurie said in an interview here at CES.

Sprint product chief Fared Adib declined to comment on the company’s marketing plans. Lurie, who serves as AT&T’s liaison to Apple, declined to comment on why Apple refused to adopt the 4G moniker in the iPhone 4S, which uses last year’s HSPA+ technology that AT&T also describes as 4G.

“Forget the G’s for a second,” Lurie said. “What it’s called doesn’t matter.”

Verizon has emphasized the speed enhancements offered by its version of 4G, and makes an effort to refer to the network as 4G LTE, rather than just 4G, to differentiate from competitors, David Small, the technical chief for Verizon Wireless, has told CNN. Verizon is on track to have its 4G network match the coverage of its 3G network by next year, a spokeswoman said Friday.

At CES last year, Verizon hosted two large news conferences and operated a huge booth to promote the launch of its 4G network. This year, Verizon has kept a low profile.

AT&T announced eight new LTE products at CES, including smartphones and tablets. The world’s first LTE Windows phone, the Lumia 900, will arrive in March, Nokia wrote in a message to partners on Friday.

“We use this as a way to kick off the year,” Lurie said. “CES is becoming more wireless-centric than ever before.”

AT&T’s loss in its bid to acquire T-Mobile has not affected operations, according to Lurie. The first 4G LTE phones for AT&T hit stores in November, before the breakup with T-Mobile was announced.

At many of the large CES exhibits, 4G was pervasive. For example, a station at the entrance to LG’s booth displaying a row of phones was called True LTE Expert.

Sprint announced three new devices at CES: a portable wireless hotspot, a Samsung phone made from recycled materials, and the Galaxy Nexus from Samsung and Google.

Sprint’s new 4G LTE network is expected to match its older, slower 4G network by the end of this year, Steve Elfman, the carrier’s network operations president, said in an interview. The company will stop selling devices that support its old 4G around that same time, and it will turn off access to that network in 2015.

“The ecosystem is going to be larger in LTE,” Elfman said.

Not only will it be larger, but this 4G is likely to remain king for some time.

What to Expect in Printers in 2012

Want to print from your smartphone or tablet–or from another city? The printers of 2012 will handle that for you–and offer other ways to use the Web or email to make printing easier.

By Melissa Riofrio, PCWorld    Dec 25, 2011 9:00 pm

What to Expect in Printers in 2012No matter how clearly our world of online photo albums, Google Docs, and e-cards may seem–yet again–to ring the death for anything on paper, sometimes you still want to print.

But these days, you want to print from whatever device you happen to be using–not just from a PC. The year 2012 will bring more options for mobile printing via a wireless connection to a local device, and for cloud printing–using email as the backbone for printing documents to a local or remote printer with its own email address (and an Internet connection).

Mobile and Cloud Printing in a Nutshell

Mobile printing at the consumer level started with phone apps that let users send photos directly to a nearby printer via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Those simple utilities still exist, but a year or so ago, Apple, Google, HP, and Lexmark began introducing further innovations, bringing us to where we are today.

Apple’s AirPrint, which debuted a year ago, lets you use Wi-Fi to send a wide range of print jobs directly from an iOS device to a nearby AirPrint-compatible printer. Initially, those printers were limited to a handful of HP models, but the growing list now also includes printers from Brother, Canon, Epson, Kodak, and Lexmark. For more information, check Apple’s list of Airprint-compatible printers.

Google Cloud PrintingGoogle’s Cloud Print app, available in what seems to be perpetual beta form, lets users print via email on any printer connected to a computer that has Internet access. New printers designated as Cloud Ready from Epson, HP, and Kodak can receive jobs without the PC middleman (though they still need an Internet connection).

HP and Lexmark: Printer Pioneers

In late 2010, HP unveiled Web-based Print Apps for printing everything from maps and movie tickets to puzzle pages for kids. It also launched the consumer version of ePrint, which lets users email a print job from anywhere to an ePrint-compatible HP printer.

The year 2012 will bring more apps and more compatible printers. Also, HP has relaxed the ePrint process a bit, making it a little more user-friendly and resolving some difficulties associated with printing from certain phones or platforms.

Around the same time, Lexmark’s SmartSolutions–a growing collection of productivity apps available with certain Lexmark small-office printers–added apps that let users display RSS news feeds or the weather report on a printer’s color LCD. Since then, the SmartSolutions collection has grown to include ways to access a number of popular online services, from Facebook and Twitter to and Evernote. In addition, Lexmark recently launched mobile printing apps for Android, Apple iOS, Google Docs, and Google Cloud Print.

In 2012, More Printers, More Choices

In 2012, vendors that are playing catch-up will give you more choices.

Canon Pixma MG6220 Wireless Inkjet Photo All-In-OneCanon Pixma MG6220 Wireless Inkjet Photo All-In-OneCanon’s fall 2011 lineup included two printers (the Pixma MG6220 and Pixma MG8220) with a number of advanced mobile capabilities: the Easy-PhotoPrint mobile app, for printing photos from compatible Android and Apple smartphones and tablets; Pixma Cloud Link, for printing Google Docs and Gmail attachments from a mobile device; and (for registered users of Canon iMage Gateway or Picasa Web Albums) access to photo albums and printing templates for stationery, calendars, and other pieces.

Another new Canon model, the Pixma MG4120, is partially compatible with Pixma Cloud Link–but only in connection with its photo-oriented features, not with its broader document printing features.

Epson has collected its new mobile and cloud printing services under the umbrella brand of Epson Connect. Email Print lets you send an email message from a mobile device to an enabled Epson printer, which can then print the message or its attachment. Epson iPrint permits direct printing via Wi-Fi to compatible iOS and Android devices. A handful of new Epson printers are also Cloud Ready. A full list of Epson printers with mobile and cloud printing capabilities is available on the vendor’s website.

Kodak is embracing mobile and cloud printing enthusiastically. Most of its new models are Cloud Ready, and all of its printers can use Kodak’s own Email Print to email print jobs as attachments. Kodak is also trying to one-up HP ePrint by accepting larger email messages and email attachments than HP does.

The year 2012 will be a good one for printers. Though the underlying technology hasn’t changed much, the addition of mobile printing via Wi-Fi and of cloud printing via email now allows printers to follow their users onto their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.

Senior Editor Melissa Riofrio covers printers for PCWorld.