A smartphone is a cellular telephone that performs many basic functions of a personal computer. Smartphones usually incorporate advanced PDA functions, large screens, and enhanced data entry and text typing methods. Multiple hardware interfaces such as SD card readers and USB ports are also common on smartphones, even as these features are now available on many regular cellphones. As PDA capabilities are often the centerpiece of a smartphone, contact management applications far superior to the phonebook lists of standard telephones are considered essential for any such device. Calender and scheduling applications, task management programs, and simple email readers are also common fare. New models also provide for data synchronization with desktop PIM applications such as KDE Kontact, Microsoft Outlook, and Evolution. Nearly all smartphones can run third-party software applications, therefore the usefulness and extendability of the devices are almost unlimited.
The most common operating system for today's smartphone is Microsoft Windows Mobile. This OS provides simplified versions of most of the applications of it's larger siblings for the PC, Microsoft Windows XP and Vista. These functions include a file manager, a web browser, a media player, and an email client. Additionally, Windows Mobile includes basic office productivity software including a word processor, a spreadsheet program, and of course a basic PIM application. Two-way data synchronization between the smartphone and a PC running Microsoft Windows is possible via synchronization software bundled with Windows Mobible, and similar software is available via third parties for Linux and Macintosh computers.
The smartphone is seen as natural convergence of the PDA and the cellular telephone. Both devices share common features and hardware, and were developed at the same point in the history of consumer electronics. First generation cellphones were available before the first PDAs, however they were large and utilized 100% of their computing power and screen space for their most basic functions. Second generation cellphones, which communicated via a digital signal, were much smaller than their predecessors, and often had some processing power and screen space to spare. In 2G phones this extra power was used to enable text messaging, which most digital networks supported. Around this time the first PDAs started appearing, and many early adaptors carried both devices. As cellphones got smaller and more powerful year by year, they soon started duplicating many of the core PDA functions. Later 2G models, often referred to as 2.5G, were the first smartphones capable of running third-party applications and.simulating other desktop PC functions. The newest 3G phones have very fast processors and lots of memory, making them perfect vehicles for PDA applications. Thus, the smartphone was created.
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