Cloud companies are eyeing cell services, Nokia CEO says

BARCELONA — Enterprises and cloud companies will start trying their hands at cellular this year, Nokia president and CEO Rajeev Suri predicts.

“Enhanced reality” and events such as concerts may be where cloud giants first get into mobile services, Suri said at a Nokia event here on the eve of Mobile World Congress.

“The first webscale players will enter the wireless access domain with mainstream technologies,” Suri said. Webscale usually refers to operators of big clouds, like Google, Facebook, and Alibaba. Suri didn’t name any names.

For enterprises, an emerging technique called network slicing will allow them to virtually run their own private services on mobile operator networks. Meanwhile, systems that bring LTE to unlicensed or shared frequencies, like LAA (Licensed Assisted Access), will also help open doors to private cellular networks. Nokia is already working with some energy utilities on these kinds of deployments, and at MWC it will join Qualcomm in demonstrating a private LTE network, Suri said.

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Lenovo to integrate Amazon Alexa into Moto smartphones

Lenovo is working with Amazon to get the Alexa voice assistant into a range of Motorola smartphones, and in the process, looking to depose Google’s voice assistant technology.

The partners will first focus on developing an Alexa “Mod,” a block that will attach to a Moto Z modular handset. The companies will then integrate Alexa directly into a variety of Moto handsets and devices, Lenovo said during a press conference in Barcelona on Sunday.

The Moto Z is much like Google’s Project Ara, where individual parts like speakers and projectors can be added to boost the functionality of the handset.

The exact details of the Alexa Mod for Moto Z weren’t provided, but an onstage image showed a speaker that could hook up to the handset. It looked like a flatter and curved version of Amazon’s Echo or Echo Dot.

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Cloud companies are eyeing cell services, Nokia CEO says

BARCELONA — Enterprises and cloud companies will start trying their hands at cellular this year, Nokia president and CEO Rajeev Suri predicts.

“Enhanced reality” and events such as concerts may be where cloud giants first get into mobile services, Suri said at a Nokia event here on the eve of Mobile World Congress.

“The first webscale players will enter the wireless access domain with mainstream technologies,” Suri said. Webscale usually refers to operators of big clouds, like Google, Facebook, and Alibaba. Suri didn’t name any names.

For enterprises, an emerging technique called network slicing will allow them to virtually run their own private services on mobile operator networks. Meanwhile, systems that bring LTE to unlicensed or shared frequencies, like LAA (Licensed Assisted Access), will also help open doors to private cellular networks. Nokia is already working with some energy utilities on these kinds of deployments, and at MWC it will join Qualcomm in demonstrating a private LTE network, Suri said.

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Samsung mulls iris scanners on smartphones to log into Windows PCs

Soon, your Samsung phone may be able to recognize your iris and log you into your Windows PC.

Iris-scanning via phone is not yet a feature available for Samsung’s latest Galaxy Book 2-in-1s, which were announced at Mobile World Congress. But the company wants to quickly bridge the gap between its Galaxy smartphones, which run on Android, and its Windows PCs and 2-in-1s.

Software called Samsung Flow links the company’s Android smartphones to Windows PCs. Samsung and Microsoft are looking to collaborate on logins via Windows Hello — designed to use biometric authentication to log into PCs — and one big Flow feature is the ability to use Galaxy smartphones to wirelessly log in to the new Galaxy Book.

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HMD’s new Nokia 3310 turns back the clock — and turns heads

This year’s Mobile World Congress is starting to look like an oldies tour.

It’s a time-honored tradition in pop music for acts long past their prime – some with only a few of their original members – to play a few of their greatest hits at state fairs and other cheery venues. As one star of a bygone era leaves the stage, the next takes over.

On Sunday, for the second time in two days here in Barcelona, a licensed manufacturer introduced a handset bearing a venerable phone brand that evoked that company’s glory days.

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Battery safety still top of mind for Samsung and other phone makers

BARCELONA — Samsung promoted its smartphone device testing and upgraded safety review processes during a major press event prior to Mobile World Congress on Sunday, almost without mentioning the disastrous Galaxy Note7 by name.

That was the infamous smartphone that Samsung recalled globally — to the tune of 3 million devices — after lithium ion batteries inside some units short-circuited, overheated and even caught fire. Samsung instituted an 8-step battery safety check process in January in reaction to the recall.

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Huawei showcases new phones in Barcelona, gets mobbed by eager crowds

BARCELONA — Four years ago, Huawei was giving lessons at its trade show booth here at Mobile World Congress (MWC) on how to pronounce the company’s name.

Now, Huawei is the third largest smartphone maker in the world, behind Apple and Samsung. At a preview event at this year’s MWC on Sunday, Huawei launched the P10 and P10 Plus smartphones featuring better dual rear cameras with Leica lenses and longer battery life.

Neither will be sold in the U.S., but that didn’t dim interest in the devices.

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Until 5G arrives, some mobile users may get almost-5G

The mobile industry is so anxious for 5G that it’s now planning something that’s almost 5G, but will be ready a year earlier.

On Sunday, many of the world’s biggest equipment vendors and mobile operators joined hands to accelerate the 5G NR (New Radio) specification that will define many elements of 5G. The new technology they plan to produce will handle some of the planned uses of 5G but will be ready for large-scale trials and deployments in 2019 instead of 2020, they say.

There’s a lot at stake with 5G for both carriers and the companies that supply their networks, who are all gathering this week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The next generation of technology will give operators new services to sell, like multi-gigabit broadband and special offerings for the internet of things and connected cars, and it should help vendors emerge from a years-long sales drought following the rollout of LTE.

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