What is mobile computing?

More often, the term mobile computing is understood as the technology used with smartphones. Smartphone technology is part of mobile computing, but this topic is a bit broader than that. This article provides an introduction to the Mobile Computing topic.

What is mobile computing?

Mobile Computing is the technology used to transmit voice and data through small, portable devices using wireless-enabled networks.

What is a mobile computing system?

Mobile Computing System is a distributed system, which is connected through a wireless network for communication. Clients or nodes possess mobility and the ability to provide anytime, anywhere computing.

Below are some examples where mobile computing is in use.

  • Online delivery systems associated with credit card verification.
  • Taxi / taxi services operated through smartphones and mobile applications.
  • Location-aware mobile services used to broadcast weather and road conditions.
  • Social networking applications and email access through smartphones.
  • Smart wearable devices that are used to measure and record health/medical conditions of individuals.

Major Components of a Mobile Computing System

A mobile computing system consists of the following components.

mobile hardware

Mobile Hardware is a small, portable computing device with the ability to retrieve and process data. Smartphones, handheld devices, and laptops all fall under mobile hardware. Typically, these devices have an Operating System (OS) embedded in them and are capable of running application software. These devices are equipped with sensors, full duplex data transmission and have the ability to operate on wireless networks such as IR, WiFi and Bluetooth.

Mobile Software

Mobile Software is the software program specifically developed to run on mobile hardware. This is usually the operating system on mobile devices. These operating systems provide features such as touchscreen, cellular connectivity, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, mobile GPS navigation, camera, video camera, voice recognition, voice recorder, music player, near field communication, and sensors. Device sensors and other hardware components can be accessed through the operating system.

mobile communication

Mobile communication refers to the exchange of data and voice using existing wireless networks. The data being transferred is applications including File Transfer (FT), Wide Area Network (WAN) interconnection, facsimile (fax), e-mail, Internet access, and the World Wide Web. The wireless networks used in communication are IR networks, Bluetooth, W-LAN, cellular, W-Packet Data and satellite communication system. It is the mobile communication infrastructure that takes care of smooth and reliable communication between mobile devices. 

Mobile Computing Principles

The following factors have been identified as the Mobile Computing Principles.


Connected devices/nodes within the mobile computing system should facilitate mobility. These devices may have limited device capabilities and limited power supply, but must have sufficient processing power and physical portability to operate in a mobile environment.


This defines the quality of service (QoS) of the network connectivity. In a mobile computing system, the availability of the network is expected to be kept at a high level with minimal delay/downtime without being affected by the mobility of the connected nodes.


The nodes belonging to a mobile computing system are connected to each other to communicate and collaborate through active data transactions.


A portable device or mobile node connected to a mobile network often denotes an individual; A mobile computing system must be able to adopt the technology to meet individual needs and also to obtain contextual information from each node.

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