Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona is over, and now that a bit of time has passed, it’s a good time to discuss some of the mobile trends that I witnessed there. Not only was MWC a welcome kickoff for Miradore Online to start implementing Android for Work, it was also an exciting opportunity to see the efforts companies are putting into IoT, the internet of things. However, though there was much promising evolution and some impressive virtual reality demos, in my opinion the great revolution is yet to come.

The underwhelming internet of things

Many companies are clearly investing heavily in IoT product development. There was home automation, smart cars, container tracking and even smart tags for finding your luggage at the airport in case you forget what it looks like. Somehow, though, I was left a little underwhelmed. I’ve done without home automation until now, so what’s the point? Not that I’d mind phone notifications if the fridge door was left open or, as a Finn, the possibility to turn on the sauna remotely. But the revolution just wasn’t there! The cost has come down a lot since the 80s and things are no longer based on SMS messaging like in the late 90s, but the applications were still very much the same.

What I found the most interesting was the cargo tracking – the ability to track shipments from order to the front door. If that’s exciting to us consumers, it’s fabulous for logistics companies, with unlimited opportunities for delivery optimization. All we need now is for power technology to catch up, as the battery life of the tracker pod is still just two weeks in power saving mode.

The wonders of virtual reality

Virtual reality was a major theme at MWC, and it certainly drew the biggest crowds. LG had their roller coaster 4D ride demo, and Samsung had queues of close to a hundred meters to their Gear VR 4D theater. HTC showed their Vive together with Valve on a demo of Elite Dangerous. The immersion of the HTC gaming demo was awesome, but the resolution was still so blocky it took me back to the 1990s.

Vive virtual reality at MWC 2016

If tempted to complain, though, we should keep in mind that only ten years ago we didn’t even have the iPhone, and now major manufacturers’ smartphones can connect to a VR set and run an immersive experience. Still, what we’re totally missing are business applications.

There’s stuff in the pipeline, however. Microsoft’s Holoportation looks like a very promising improvement to e-meetings. People who spend much of their time working remotely are likely to welcome the proliferation of this kind of tech with open arms. I’m very much hoping to see something like this demoed next year.

Meanwhile, in the mobile space

So what about mobile device management? There’s no denying that mobiles have become an integral part of doing business. The line between work and leisure is blurrier by the minute, and as the manufacturers liked to tout, we check our smartphones 150 times a day on average. We’re using the gold standard of e-mail, instant messaging is coming to the business world hard and fast, and content sharing via cloud services like Dropbox is a part of day-to-day operations.

But how to manage this ecosystem and protect valuable data? If you’ve installed apps recently, chances are you’ve seen prompts asking you to grant access to contacts, data, location, photos, camera, microphone, and more. Did you pay attention to the ramifications or just blindly accept? If you’re like most people, probably the latter.

The ramifications are not imaginary, though. What happens if your business contacts start leaking to spammers? What about your personal details: is there a reason a QR code reader needs location information? Is there a chance that song recognition app is listening to you for other purposes than recognizing songs?

Device management to the rescue

Thankfully, with device management, a company will know what devices they have, who’s using them, for what purpose and where. What’s more, this is where things are getting better and better all the time. The security settings are paramount, making sure the first line of defense is in order and all your devices have a passcode set up and encryption enabled. Lost devices can be locked or wiped. To complement restrictions and app blacklists, even a single app Kiosk mode can be set up for special applications or bandwidth management purposes.

Controlling roles and personal data is where things get particularly interesting. As the line between work and play becomes blurred, many people use their personal devices for work and vice versa. However, if your family members can access your work device, security may be breached. This is why we’re now working with Google to get a container support for the Android platform via Android for work. We’re also keen on hearing other platform vendors about their solution ideas in this field.

mobile security

A revolution around the corner?

The IoT revolution may come, or it may not. At this point, it looks like batteries are getting better, designs are getting modular, VR is being introduced and various automation solutions are becoming available. Device management is moving forward and VR meetings may finally make offices a thing of the past. While there was much hype, I felt the true innovations are still waiting around the corner. This means it could be the perfect moment to hop on the application train if you have a killer idea! Even if MWC 2016 didn’t blow my mind, I’m already looking forward to next year. What about you? Let us know what you loved or loathed in the comments below.

Image credit: Kārlis Dambrāns

Valtteri Kekki

Valtteri Kekki

CTO at Miradore Ltd
Valtteri Kekki is the CTO of Miradore. He has been with the company since 2011 and is also an experienced software developer. Valtteri holds an M.Sc. in computer science from Lappeenranta University of Technology.
Valtteri Kekki