Mobile Computing is a technology that allows transmission of data, voice and video via a computer or any other wireless enabled device without having to be connected to a fixed physical link

In other words, "Mobile computing is a technology that is used to transmit data through a mobile device to a wireless network."

The main concept involves −

  • Mobile communication
  • Mobile hardware
  • Mobile software

Mobile Communication

Mobile Communication refers to the exchange of data and voice using existing wireless networks. The data being transferred are the applications including File Transfer (FT), the interconnection between Wide-Area-Networks (WAN), facsimile (fax), electronic mail, access to the internet and the World Wide Web.

The wireless networks utilized in communication are IR, Bluetooth, W-LANs, Cellular, W-Packet Data networks and satellite communication system. It is the mobile communication infrastructure which takes care of seamless and reliable communication between mobile devices. 

Mobile Hardware

Mobile Hardware is a small and portable computing device with the ability to retrieve and process data. Smartphones, handheld and wearable devices fall under mobile hardware.

These devices typically have an Operating System (OS) embedded in them and able to run application software on top of it. These devices are equipped with sensors, full-duplex data transmission and have the ability to operate on wireless networks such as IR, WiFi, and Bluetooth.

Mobile Software

Mobile Software is the software program which is developed specifically to be run on mobile hardware.  This is usually the operating system in mobile devices.

These operating systems provide features such as touchscreen, cellular connectivity, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS mobile navigation, camera, video camera, speech recognition, voice recorder, music player, near field communication and sensors. The device sensors and other hardware components can be accessed via the OS.

Characteristics of Mobile Computing

  1. Portability -The Ability to move a device within a learning environment or to different environments with ease.
  2. Social Interactivity -The ability to share data and collaboration between users.
  3. Context Sensitivity -The ability to gather and respond to real or simulated data unique to a current location, environment, or time.
  4. Connectivity -The ability to be digitally connected for the purpose of communication of data in any environment.
  5.   Individual - The ability to use the technology to provide scaffolding on difficult activities andlesson customization for individual learners.
  6. Small Size - Mobile devices are also known as handhelds, palmtops and smart phones due totheir roughly phone-like dimensions. A typical mobile device will fit in the average adult's hand or pocket. Some mobile devices may fold or slide from a compact, portable mode to a slightly larger size, revealing built-in keyboards or larger screens. Mobile devices make use of touch screens and small keypads to receive input, maintaining their small size and independence from external interface devices. The standard form of a mobile device allows the user to operate it with one hand, holding the device in the palm or fingers while executing its functions with the thumb.

Netbooks and small tablet computers are sometimes mistaken for true mobile devices, based on their similarity in form and function, but if the device's size prohibits one-handed operation or hinders portability, then it cannot be considered a true mobile device.

  1. Wireless Communication - Mobile devices are typically capable of communication withother similar devices, with stationary computers and systems, with networks and portable phones. Base mobile devices are capable of accessing the Internet through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi networks, and many models are equipped to access cell phone and wireless data networks as well. Email and texting are standard ways of communicating with mobile devices, although many are also capable of telephony, and some specialized mobile devices, such as RFID and barcode.

Principles of Mobile Computing

  1. Portability – facilitate movement of device within the mobile computing environment
  2. Connectivity – availability to continuous connection w/ minimal lag & no interruption while movement
  3. Social Interactivity – maintaining the connectivity to collaborate w/ other users
  4. Individuality – adapting technology to meet individual needs