Internet access and mobility continue to change our perception of communications and computing. We are becoming more dependent on both, as can be seen by the continued proliferation of mobile telephones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and laptop computers. Improvements in miniaturization and higher-speed communications media are creating an ever-increasing population of users for these electronic gadgets. To a certain extent, the basic applications remain very familiar: messaging, voice communications, e-mail, and Web access. More recently, we have seen that imaging and music are becoming important features in mobile communication. Image processing and rich video are not far behind.
Consumers want access to these applications wherever they go, and they naturally want to interconnect their gadgets for any of myriad reasons. The image should be easily tagged and shared with a group, and perhaps should be backed up locally on a home disk. The message should be transferred into an e-mail folder. The e-mail headers should be read aloud into the earphones hooked up to the mobile telephone. These are very natural requirements, yet far from universally satisfied. The inevitability of mobile computing and mobile Internet access will soon cause these features to be taken for granted.