News Scan: What's up with Windows Phone 8.1?; iAnywhere, anyone?; more


>> What's up with Windows Phone 8.1?

Windows Phone 8.1, which will be the first major upgrade to the mobile operating system since 2012, is expected to be ready in another few months, according to IDG News Service. Rumors indicate that the update will include a notification center similar to Google Now, virtual assistance like Apple's Siri and a data use monitoring feature. Microsoft plans to move Windows Phone closer to its Windows RT operating system for tablets, IDG explains. Read more on the Windows Phone 8.1 rumors.

[More on Windows Phone: So the Cloud and Enterprise guy is going to run Microsoft | Windows Phone is fastest growing smartphone platform, says Canalys]

>> iAnywhere computing platform might be in the works

Apple's next great innovation could be a converged computing platform called "iAnywhere" that combines PC and mobile device functionality, according to a J.P. Morgan note to investors obtained by AppleInsider. The iAnywhere platform would be run on a converged Mac OS and iOS operating system. "Apple could generate revenue through the sale of specifically configured displays, iAnywhere-capable iPhones or iPads, and cloud-based software and storage services," explains Mark Moskowitz, an analyst with J.P. Morgan. Read more on the iAnywhere platform.

[More on Apple: Apple's next big thing could be content | Apple's APIs left VMware in enterprise mobility dust]

>> Android, iOS take different routes to smartphone dominance

Android and iOS devices accounted for 94 percent of all smartphone shipments last year, up from 88 percent in 2012, according to the latest IDC stats. "What stands out are the different routes Android and Apple took to meet this demand. Android relied on its long list of OEM partners, a broad and deep collection of devices, and price points that appealed to nearly every market segment. Apple's iOS, on the other hand, relied on nearly the opposite approach: a limited selection of Apple-only devices, whose prices trended higher than most," observes Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's mobile phone team. Read more on IDC's smartphone stats.

[More on Android: Spotlight: Android at center of Internet of things | Stick a fork in Android]

>> Mobility enables rapid rise in working from home

Mobility is enabling a rapid increasing in working from home, according to Frost & Sullivan's Stratecast practice. Close to one-third of individuals say they work from home at least part of the time, according to a survey of 1,700 individuals by Stratecast.  "As cellular networks become more data-centric, portal devices such as smartphones, tablets, and in the near future, devices like heads-up displays, will provide a portable work experience. The implication of business focused on ideation, armed with virtual work environments that are projected to workers using mobile technologies, is transformational," explains Frost & Sullivan. Read more on the Stratecast study.

[More on working from home: Younger mobile workers challenge IT to keep up | Dell encourages remote working]

>> Taco Bell develops mobile-ordering app in house

Taco Bell has developed its own mobile-ordering app in house, which the fast food chain plans to launch at all of locations later this year, according to Mobile Commerce Daily. Operational challenges have been discouraging fast food chains, with the exception of large pizza chains Pizza Hut and Domino's, from implementing mobile ordering, the report notes. "More than 60 percent of Taco Bell orders are customized, and with 80 percent of people 18-34 owning a smartphone, the mobile app puts our brand in the customers' hands," says Jeff Jenkins, senior manager of mobile experience at Taco Bell. Read more on Taco Bell's mobile ordering plans.

[More on mobile ordering: Report: McDonald's trialing mobile ordering, payments system | Spotlight: Mobile ordering is 'fastest growing segment,' says Domino's Pizza]