Mobile Roundup: The Five Biggest Stories From Day One at #CES2014

Each day during CES, we’ll recap the five biggest stories and innovations in mobile, wearable and “Post-PC” technology that went on display that day.

1.)  Pebble Steel Smartwatch

c/o The Verge

Pebble unveiled arguably a more fashionable (and expensive!) version of its popular smartwatch which its calling the Pebble Steel. The watch is (slightly) heavier than the original Kickstarter-driven incarnation but is smaller in overall size and includes the same size display as its predecessor. It also has 128 KB of memory; twice that of the 1st gen Pebble. The watch will sell at $249 and will begin selling at the end of the month. At about the same time, the Pebble team plans on releasing its own app store, allowing developers to leverage their API to build apps for the watch.

Additional Pictures:

The Verge
PC Magazine
TechCrunch

2.) Samsung Galaxy Note Pro & Tab Pro Tablets

c/o CNET

Samsung unveiled two new tablet lines today, the Note Pro & the Tab Pro, both of which include a massive 12.2 inch screen (the Tab pro is only available in this size, while the Note Pro comes in two smaller models: 8.4 & 10.1 inch). While Apple’s supposedly working on a tablet this size to be released later in the year, Samsung beat them to the punch, just like it did in the Smartwatch category in Q4 last year. The Tab Pro also features a new tiled UX containing widgets and the ability to multi-task with up to 4 apps at once.

Additional Pictures:

Wired UK
CNET
BGR

3.) AT&T’s Sponsored Data Program

c/o Wired

Amid a number of announcements, this one from AT&T had the Internet buzzing the most. And not in a good way. The company announced that it would invite select content providers to essentially subsidize the bandwidth used to consume their content. In the immediate future, it seems like its not such a bad deal for consumers, particularly those who consume high-quality video content from places like ESPN & Hulu. But the implications are potentially much farther-reaching, as carriers will likely use this as a pilot program to test the waters of a tiered content system: something net neutrality proponents have been trying to put a stop to through the courts.

Additional Information:

GigaOM
The Verge
Wired

4.) Samsung’s Smart Home Platform

c/o BGR

This news actually broke a few days ago but Samsung debuted it today at CES. This new platform aims to be a catalyst for the Internet of Things, enabling users to connect all of their appliances and other smart devices to a central hub. The Samsung Smart Home platform will contain three modes: Device Control, which allows users to control their home with their smartphone, Home View, which will provide the user with camera views from each device and finally Smart Customer Service, which will let users know when one of their devices is malfunctioning or in need of service.

Additional Information:

BGR
CNET

5.)  Google’s “Open Automotive Alliance” brings Android functionality to select vehicles

c/o WSJ.com

This too was something that was hinted at as early as late December but became official today, when Google announced its Open Automotive Alliance in conjunction with Audi, General Motors, Honda and Hyundai and pledged to have the first models with built-in Android functionality ready later this year. Some also believe this is the first step in the production of self-driving cars that could be road-ready as soon as 2017. Regardless, this sets the stage for the next battle in the platform wars between Google & Apple: will users select their car based on their phone of choice? Might some be tempted to switch phones, carriers etc. for superior functionality in the car they really want? Time will tell.

Wired

The Wall Street Journal

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Here are the next five that didn’t quite make the cut

ZTE’s first smartwatch takes more than a page from Pebble’s book (The Verge)

Garmin’s vívofit fitness band features a curved display and one year of battery life (GigaOM)

Epson Debuts Smart Glasses For Enterprise And Sports Stadium Fun (TechCrunch)

LG’s curved G Flex Android phone hits the US in Q1 (VentureBeat)

Corning’s antimicrobial Gorilla Glass can kill bacteria on your smartphone

Google partnering with Audi on in-car, Android-based system

And so the new battleground for Apple & Google has been set. I think it’s great, frankly. Getting smartphones to work correctly in cars is always a hit or miss proposition and the proprietary dashboards/apps produced by car manufacturers are usually awful. Hopefully, these partnerships empower consumers with more seamless experiences. The only thing that worries me is the potential for these to become closed systems to whomever happens to have one or the other device. For example, if the Audi partnership allows Android users more options to control functionality from their phone, that’s great….so long as they don’t disregard iOS users completely.