The Weekly Round-Up: Smartphones in space and iPhone app mishaps

Android goes galactic and Apple's mobile apps cause amusing confusion...

Android goes galactic and Apple's mobile apps cause amusing confusion...

The Round-Up has often dreamed of sending someone's mobile phone into orbit – usually because an extremely irritating ringtone is ruining a visit to the cinema – but now a team of UK researchers are planning to do it for real.

Scientists intend to place a smartphone on board a tiny 4kg satellite, attach that to a massive rocket and blast it where no mobile phone has gone before.

In a huge win for Google, the handset will be an Android device. Whether this is because nobody could bear to part with their iPhones or they got scared off by the data roaming charges, the Round-Up isn't sure.

But in addition to letting ET phone home, smartphones in space could dramatically cut the cost of future space missions. The team from the University of Surrey and Surrey Satellite Technology will use the mission to determine whether off-the-shelf mobile phone technology can operate in the harsh environment of space.

Once in space, the phone will be bombarded by cosmic and solar radiation, experiencing temperatures that veer between extreme heat and cold. If the phone remains operational, it could open up the possibilities of phone chipsets being used to control future satellite missions, providing a cheaper alternative to the customised and expensive spacecraft electronics that are used today.

Tests on a smartphone on the ground have proved it is capable of working in a vacuum and with the same radiation levels and vibrations experienced in space travel.

The precise model hasn’t been finalised yet, although for obvious reasons the Round-Up would like to suggest a Samsung Galaxy.

Just don't forget – in space, nobody can hear you text...



We've all done it. The phone rings and someone on the other end starts telling you about the wonderful prize you've won and could you just stay on the line for the moment?

Gail Davis of Orpington received such a call and did precisely what many of us would do in such a scenario: politely made her excuses and hung up.

Unfortunately for Gail, the call was genuine and the nice person from Apple at the other end of the phone must have felt somewhat baffled as he tried to tell Gail she'd won $10,000 just for downloading a free app.

As predicted, Apple sailed past the 10-billion-downloaded-apps milestone on the weekend and the company was in the mood to celebrate.

It was actually Gail's daughter who had downloaded the milestone app, and fortunately when her daughter was told what had happened Gail realised the error of her ways. "I had a moment of blind panic but thankfully Apple called me back," she told the BBC. "They said 'it's not a joke and you are the winner'."

So next time you get a phone call from a complete stranger telling you how lucky you are to be receiving the call, just consider that maybe, just maybe, it's worth listening for a few seconds with an open mind. And then slamming down the phone as usual.



What did you have for breakfast this morning? Was it perhaps a dog bowl full of latex gloves? If so, you may want to have a rethink about how you’re doing your grocery shopping. Or take a long, hard look at your diet.

Confused? Let the Round-Up explain. You see, among the 10 billion apps downloaded from Apple’s online store are a number that take advantage of the device’s camera and connectivity to let users scan barcodes, thus helping them track down products to buy later.

There’s just one small problem with these apps – some of them don’t work perfectly.

How does the Round-Up know? Well, the Cranfield School of Management said so, that’s how.

And how does the Cranfield School of Management know? Well, because it’s only gone and done some research into the issue.

Some of the most popular iPhone scanning apps consistently misread product information, it claims. A few of the apps demonstrated some amusing failures: for example, when scanning the barcode of a leading brand of cornflakes, one app provided information about dog bowls.

And when scanning another barcode for thick sliced bread, information about a disposable latex glove dispenser was provided.

Not quite the same toasted, although edible with enough Marmite.



Feel like it's about time you got a promotion? Well, you'd better be quick as time is running out. By analysing promotion status updates on member profiles, professional social network LinkedIn has worked out that the promotion cycles for professionals are changing.

While in the 1990s, January was traditionally the top month for getting ahead by a long way, in 2011, it’s slowly losing its hold.

According to LinkedIn’s data, the top three months when professionals in the UK are most likely to get promoted within their company are January, April and September. So basically, if you haven't been promoted by Monday, you might have a long and grumpy wait all the way until April before the boss realises your true worth. You have been warned.

Talking of social media, don't forget you can keep up with silicon.com via our Facebook page, our LinkedIn group and our Twitter feed too.

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