Qualcomm announce Quick Charge 2.0 and Snapdragon Voice Activation

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Ahead of MWC, chipset company Qualcomm has announced two features that will be present in its future Snapdragon chipsets: Quick Charge 2.0 and Snapdragon Voice Activation. Both of these technologies have a good chance of being present in future Windows Phone devices.

Quick Charge 2.0 enables faster battery charging, and is the next generation of the technology that is currently found in many existing Windows Phone 8 devices. Snapdragon Voice Activation is an always-on, low-power listening feature, that will enable users to wake up a device by saying a custom phrase (e.g. "wake up lazy-phone"). The wake up activity can be linked to the host platform's voice user interface (e.g. Windows Phone's TellMe), which means it will be possible to wake up and control a device completely hands free.

Quick Charge 2.0

Quick Charge 2.0 requires hardware in both a device (available as either a standalone IC solution, or as part of a power management circuitry in a system-on-a-chip) and an associated wall charger. In essence, the technology optimises charging by making the charging process "intelligent", allowing for higher voltage charging to be provided when requested by the device. 

Qualcomm say that Quick Charge can significantly decrease the amount of time required for charging:

Products with Quick Charge 2.0 can charge up to 75% faster than products without Quick Charge technology. In our labs we found tablets that normally take over 7 hours to charge were able to reach full charge in less than 3 hours with the Quick Charge 2.0 solution.

The difference for most modern devices, where the charging process is typically already somewhat optimised, will not be so dramatic, but Quick Charge 2.0 should still offer a noticeable reduction in charging times. 

Snapdragon Voice Activation

A smartphone that's always listening to you, waiting on your whim, has something of a science fiction feel to it (thanks Star Trek), but the idea of voice activation for mobile phones is not new. Many early Sony Ericsson devices, including the UIQ powered Sony Ericsson P800 (2002), had a magic word feature that could be used to wake up the phone and start voice dialing. However, the functionality has been less common on more recent devices, partly because such always-on features have an impact on battery life. 

In a blog post, Qualcomm note that they have minimised power usage:

Snapdragon Voice Activation is designed to be a low-power and secure solution. It enables devices to use the least amount of power possible to listen only for the custom word set by the OEM and spoken by only the voice of the device owner, enabling both a secure and power efficient solution for users.

This is achieved by integrating the solution as part of the audio portion of the system-on-a-chip (SoC or processor) and it is this development that Qualcomm quite correctly claim as innovative. 

The most obvious potential use case for this solution is to enable completely hands free operation of smartphone when engaged in another task, such as driving. Rather than having to press a voice command button on the device, it will be possible to say, "wake up smartphone", after which the standard voice commands (native to the platform) can be used (e.g. "call Bob").



Both Quick Charge 2.0 and Snapdragon Voice Activation will be implemented first in the Snapdragon 800 SoC, but are also expected to be made available in other Qualcomm products in due course. Devices using the Snapdragon 800 are expected to go on sale in the second half of the year and Qualcomm say that wall chargers with the Quick Charge 2.0 technology are expected to go on sale in early 2014.

It should be noted that there's no guarantee that either of these technologies will be available on future Windows Phone devices. However, given the close relationship between Microsoft and Qualcomm, and the fact that all current Windows Phone handsets use Qualcomm chipsets, it's not unreasonable to assume that some Windows Phone devices are included among the 55 Snapdragon 800 devices that Qualcomm says are currently in development.