Developers: It’s Your 5G Wake-Up Call. Time to Start Designing It into Your Apps.

Thursday 5/9/19 12:00pm
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Posted By Ana Schafer
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5G is calling. Are you ready to answer?

The 5G rollout has started with the world’s first commercial 5G networks launching in the US, Europe, South Korea and China, and it is first available on Android with devices based on the Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 855 Mobile Platform. There’s a lot of excitement around 5G and what multi-gigabit speeds, ultra-low latency and massive capacity can mean to consumers and industries. Now it's developers' turn to see what you will create to unleash the capabilities of 5G. To help enable your invention, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and Google have been working to give you the tools you need to create throughput-aware software and content that takes advantage of 5G.

Inventing throughput-aware 5G apps

You’ll find hooks for 5G in Android Q through enhancements to APIs in the the ConnectivityManager class designed to allow your applications to detect 5G network availability and performance on Android devices.

By exposing network estimated throughput, you can use ConnectivityManager to create network aware apps that are ready to use 5G for greater responsiveness and higher-quality video and audio. In use cases like streaming video, for example, you can factor throughput-awareness into the way you design your apps to manage parameters like buffering needs, compression and codec rate adaptation.

Think of 5G as your opportunity to move away from coding for the lowest common denominator and network speed. Instead, think in terms of “5G mode” and use throughput awareness to start inventing exceptional user experiences that take full advantage of 5G.

ConnectivityManager makes your app 5G aware

Understand Bandwidth Availability while on 5G NetworkCapabilities.getLinkDownstreamBandwidthKbps()

Modify App behavior based on Network Meteredness NetworkCapabilities.NET_CAPABILITY_NOT_METERED

The 5G network as connectivity fabric

As the new generation of wireless, 5G is designed to offer greater reliability, higher speed, lower latency and higher capacity than previous cellular generations.

But beyond those improvements, developers can look to 5G as kind of connectivity fabric. Greater network efficiency, connection density and spectrum efficiency mean that your work can play a bigger role in mission-critical services, connected vehicles and IoT.

5G paves the way for new kinds of social experiences like enhanced live-streaming and sharing of personal events. Start looking at the potential for entertainment as 5G networks power XR (Extended Reality) (virtual and augmented reality) in sports events, concerts and gaming.

With the connectivity fabric of 5G, computing at the wireless edge takes on new meaning. It’s an opportunity for traditional cloud providers like telco’s to extend their offerings into the edge-cloud. That could mean new services and APIs to consume. It could also mean taking workloads like neural network training and learning services that you’re now running in the cloud and redistributing them to the edge-cloud, and ultimately to the devices themselves.

5G rollout moving fast

In this first year of 5G rollout, more than 20 operators have announced upgrades to their networks1. Compare that against the four launches in the first year of the 4G rollout.

But what good is a 5G network without cool 5G-capable devices to run on them? Virtually all major Android OEMs are launching flagship 5G devices in 2019. So far, that includes manufacturers like LG, Motorola, OPPO, Samsung, Xiaomi and ZTE.

Our own Ignacio Contreras was in Chicago, one of two cities in which Verizon Wireless launched its commercial 5G network last month. Ignacio measured download speeds in excess of half a gigabyte per second. He figured that was worth writing home about, so he sent us this photo:

Download speeds during 5G rollout in ChicagoDownload speeds during 5G rollout in Chicago

Everyone’s mileage may vary, but you’ve got to admit that speeds over 500 Mbps are fast. And this is just the start with 5G.

When you combine 5G performance, the enhancements in Android Q and premium devices made with Qualcomm Technologies, you have a recipe for the future of mobile computing. Start thinking about what you can invent with nearly instant access to cloud services, multiplayer cloud gaming, real-time video collaboration, and shopping and navigation with AR.

Next Steps

With a fast rollout of a fast network on fast devices, don’t let any grass grow under your feet.

You can start creating network aware applications today by calling ConnectivityManager in your apps.

Those attending Google I/O this week got a start at the workshop called “Thinking in 5G,” where Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and Google presented details on 5G and using Android Q to build apps for 5G followed by a workshop designed to spark your 5G invention.

The world is ready for 5G, and now it’s time for your piece of the 5G promise. The modems, software and network are there. It's your turn.

1 Source: IHS Report Jan ’19, Qualcomm Technologies data