Mobile computing

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Contents

Last Update

  • Updated.jpg 17 August 2013

Introduction

See also Academic indexes searchable on mobile devices | iPad | IPhone5 for physicians | Information technology topics | mHealth | Web 2.0

Mobile computing refers to the use of portable technologies including wearable computers, personal digital assistants, smartphones, "carputers" and recent additions such as the iPhone and iPad. The general consensus around mobile computing is that it involves portable technologies enabling the use of computers on the move. Cuddy (2009) defines mobile computing as "using a computing device while mobile". PC Magazine states that "mobile computing implies wireless transmission, but wireless transmission does not necessarily imply mobile computing." In other words, devices can be used to browse websites through wireless Internet connections in the same way that mobile phones are used to make phonecalls if they can receive signals. The term mobile computing includes handheld devices such as mobiles, cellular phones, the iPad and smartphones.

Affordances

Mobile computers afford users the ability to:

  • Access the Internet, communicate, develop research networks
  • Have portability and real-time communication with members of their network
  • Learn on-the-go, anytime, anywhere

Drawbacks

  • limitations of mobiles have a negative impact on services according to Siau and Shen’ statement (2006, p. 95-97)
  • mobile networks suffer some limitations such as a lower bandwidth, longer delays, and poorer connection stability
  • network incompatibility impedes the development of user-friendly interfaces and graphical applications for mobile devices
  • mobile handsets are limited in power, memory and disk capacity, battery life, and surf-ability
  • infrastructure constraints, security concerns, and user distrust

Examples of mobile computing in library and information studies

Academic libraries such as the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) post QR codes (a specialized bar code) at key areas of the library (e.g., next to various pieces of technology like self-serve checkout stations). Library users can take a photo of the QR code with their Web-enabled mobile device and use it to access information such as fact sheets, instructional videos to support their use of library services. Progress is being made in the health information sector as librarians and other information professionals strive to provide timely services to patients, physicians, insurers and suppliers at the point of need. For example, the National Library of Medicine is involved in numerous projects for mobile devices, including Mobile Medline Plus and Pub Med for Hand Held Devices. Other examples of mobile computing applications include:

  • Citation software such as RefMobile from RefWorks
  • Chat reference via Skype Mobile
  • Library catalogue and library account information

This is a good opportunity for libraries to consider how to extend access to library resources and services to users of mobile devices. For example, reference services and information literacy instruction can be provided using mobiles instead of being tethered to information desks.

App evaluation & web pathfinders

References

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