Consumer technology changes at such a rapid pace due to plentiful startups, low barriers of entry (thanks to the likes of Kickstarter and Indiegogo) and a large and lucrative market. Five years ago, the landscape was very different from what it is today. Netflix’s streaming service just launched, the first iPhone had been released but the App Store was late to the party, the first phone running Android was released and Toshiba, backer of HD-DVD, bowed out of the fight against Blu-ray. Today, many of the devices and gadgets from five years ago are all but obsolete. Newer and better technology is continuously coming out.
Intel’s new processor architecture, code-named Haswell, is creating an excitement for traditional computers – mostly laptops – that has not existed for a few years due to the rise of tablet computing. The Haswell chips run cooler and use less power than do previous processors. The biggest improvement from the new architecture is a massive increase in battery life. The first laptops with Haswell processors were MacBook Airs. They are incredibly light, with battery that lasts 12 hours. Most computer manufacturers are launching new hardware later this year with Haswell processors.
Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android are the dominant operating systems for smartphones and tablets. Last week, Apple held an event unveiling their newest iPhones and displaying their recently released iOS 7. The iPhone 5s is an almost trivial upgrade (though it now comes in gold), while the iPhone 5c is physically new – vibrant colors and plastic – with similar internals to the iPhone 5. iOS 7 marks a departure from the long-standing design style of previous generations of iOS. The days of skeuomorphism – design with physical objects in mind – are long gone. Now, bright colors and flat textures permeate the operating system. Underneath, iOS introduces thousands of new APIs for developers.
KitKat, the latest version of Android (not Key Lime Pie, as most people predicted), will be released sometime this year. As of now, details on Android 4.4 are scarce ,but rumors are swirling that battery improvements and an improved user interface will be the main focus. Samsung, the biggest Android manufacturer, recently announced their successor to the giant Galaxy Note II. The new phone is bigger and improves on the previous phone – nothing surprising. Samsung also announced something different: Galaxy Gear.
Google Glass has been pushed out of the limelight (but should not be forgotten) by a different augmented accessory: smartwatches. Smartwatches allow users to interact with their smartphones by alerting them with notifications and other functionalities. Most smartwatches”“ like Samsung’s Galaxy Gear or Sony’s second generation of smart watches”“ are not available yet and consumers have not been able to get their hands around smart watches (or their smart watches around their hands). Still, the demand and potential are clearly there. Pebble’s Kickstarter became the most funded project in the first six days. An incredible amount of speculation and rumor surrounds Apple’s iWatch and Google’s smartwatch. Many expect devices from these two companies to really bring smartwatches to the mainstream.