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Innovation

The Weekly Round-Up: Antique mobiles, robot librarians and the iPhone 5

Look back at the mobile phones of yore, forward to the iPhone 5 and further to the future library...
Written by The Round-Up, Contributor on

Look back at the mobile phones of yore, forward to the iPhone 5 and further to the future library...

iPhone 5. Never have two words - OK, one word and a number - created so much fascination, so much excitement, in the minds of so many.

Well, apart from iPhone 4. But that's so last year, right?

Yes, the iPhone 5 has been the source of enormous fanboy frenzy, even though it doesn't exist yet and as far at the Round-Up knows may never exist at all.

After all, who knows, maybe Apple will skip to iPhone 6 just for fun. Or decide that numbers aren't cool anymore and go for names instead, probably along the lines of the iPhone Super-amazing, or something similarly modest.

And yet, the iPhone 5 excitement continues to increase in inverse proportion to the actual, knowable facts. That's because now that Apple enthusiasts are recovering from the excitement of the white iPhone - "It's an iPhone! It's white!" - their thoughts turn to the next big thing, which in this case is the iPhone 5. Probably.

Confused? Relax. We've asked some of the experts what they think the new handset will feature, and whether it will be enough to keep Apple ahead of the Android gadgets snapping at its heels.

And if that's not enough, find out what silicon.com's mobile guru thinks of it all and why it might be evolution, not revolution, when Apple unveils its next handset.

Still not enough? Boy, you people are hard to please. Check out what our resident Apple watcher thinks is going to come out at next week's Apple WWDC.


Mobile recycling

Of course, before the iPhone there were other phones. Honest. You may remember them: handsets the size of bricks, tiny little screens, curly aerials and terrible battery life. OK, so not everything has changed.

In fact, the Round-Up doesn't have to remember them at all because it's got them all at home. Like a crazed tech hoarder, the Round-Up still has every mobile phone it's ever owned, right back to that beloved Nokia 3210.

If you must know, the Round-Up's first ever phone call - on that very 3210 - was to one of its then flatmates, asking for a cup of tea. The stuff of legends, indeed.

The Round-Up is holding on to these old gadgets largely because of a sneaky feeling that they might at some point become useful again. Let's be honest - they won't. Also in the loft: several VCRs, a large number of broken modems and an Amstrad CPC464, among other gizmos of yesteryear.

However, for those of you who don't feel the need to hold on to every piece of hardware until it is worthy of being showcased on Antiques Roadshow, you could just flog it instead.

For it seems we Brits are hoarding £2.7bn worth of old mobile phones at home, and one in three of us have no idea how to recycle them.

Four out of 10 have never recycled an old phone while one in four has never even considered the cash-back opportunities of recycling.

One in 10 of us admit to hoarding old handsets for sentimental reasons despite them lying unused for years.

Oddly enough, it is the 18- to 24-year-olds who are especially tied to their old mobile phones, according to the research by Orange - welcome, hoarders of tomorrow!


Book bots

You know how it is - you wait for ages for a story about libraries on silicon.com, then two come along at once. The Round-Up remembers the university library as an oasis of calm, filled with the wisdom of ages, and nice and warm in winter, thus making it a very agreeable destination for students who want to snooze but are too mean or poor to turn on their central heating.

But now the library is a place filled with whizzing technology. The University of Chicago has opened the doors to a new library with a high-tech underground storage system that has the capacity to hold 3.5 million volumes. Books and journals are retrieved by robotic cranes when a library user requests an item and the entire retrieval process has been designed to take less than five minutes.

Wow - goodbye dusty library and hello gleaming palace of knowledge. Let's just hope there are a few comfy corners left for undergrads to catch up on their sleep.

But what's this? Peter Cochrane predicts the end will soon be nigh for textbooks of all sorts as information goes online instead. Read the article to find out why he describes himself in his formative years as "the publisher's friend and the librarian's enemy".

Elsewhere on silicon.com this week: get up close and personal with Windows 8 and read why the most important technology investment your boss ever makes might be a good old-fashioned piece of paper.

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