|find my iphone|
|samsung galaxy s4|
The technology industry gets more exciting every year as new innovations allow us to do things once thought impossible beyond the realms of science fiction.
This year saw tablets and smartphones continue to gnaw away at the PC market, with lighter and thinner products that make no concessions on the power front becoming the new industry standard.
New AV standards such as 4K also gained traction, while cloud storage continued to slowly phase out its physical counterpart as we move towards an all-digital future.
Looking ahead to 2014, there are many more exciting developments around the corner, and we have rounded up the tech rumours that we expect to bear fruit over the next 12 months.
Apple: Larger screens and new product categories
If the success of large-screen Android handsets such as the Sony Xperia Z Ultra and the Samsung Galaxy Note line has proven one thing, it’s that there is a market for them.
Apple has so far resisted taking its iPhone range into phablet territory, but the smartphone sector has never been a one-size-fits-all arena, and there are signs that Tim Cook and co are about to embrace this.
Reports and supply chain leaks suggest that prototype models of the iPhone 6 feature display sizes varying between 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, perhaps indicating that customer choice is high on Apple’s agenda for 2014.
Meanwhile, Apple’s tablet line could be in for similar treatment, with a 12.9-inch “iPad Pro” packing 4K capabilities also rumoured to be in the works.
© Getty Images / Sean Gallup
New Apple iPhone 5C smartphones await customers
Cook has previously teased that Apple is exploring new product categories, and it is a safe bet to assume that an iOS-powered smartwatch will arrive on the market next year, with recent speculation suggesting it will be announced alongside the iPhone 6.
Current smartwatches such as the Samsung Galaxy Gear and Sony Smartwatch 2 have been flawed offerings, but we’re expecting Apple to ignite competition in the wearables market with an innovative take on the concept.
Apple has long been tipped to move into the television hardware market, but the latest word on the street is that we may have to wait until 2015 before an iOS-powered set goes on sale.
ZoomBoard smartwatch keyboard solution
© Rex Features / London News Pictures
Apple logo display at Apple’s UK flagship store
Samsung: Flexible displays and an end to plastic casing
Samsung’s popular Galaxy line of products is perhaps the greatest threat to Apple’s iOS range, and build quality has always been the area where they are unable to compete with their Cupertino counterparts.
The South Korean tech giant has backed its flagship smartphones in flimsy polycarbonate up to now, but reports suggest that this could change in 2014.
Samsung’s Galaxy S5 smartphone is said to have been fast-tracked into development after the Galaxy S4 missed internal sales targets, and details of the new handset have trickled through from supply chain sources.
© Getty Images / Don Emmert/AFP
People eagerly check out the new Galaxy S4
Initial reports claimed that the Galaxy S5 would sport premium-grade metal casing similar to that of the HTC One, but more recent speculation points to a diamond-like coating that is resistant to damage.
Furthermore, Samsung’s ongoing research into flexible display technology could start to bear fruit over the next 12 months, as the company has pledged to deliver a device with a wraparound screen by 2015.
We have already seen the curved-screen Galaxy Round hit the market in Asia, and the Youm tech the handset is based on is advancing at a considerable pace.
Samsung Galaxy Round
Microsoft: New beginnings for the computing giant
Microsoft has the fairly pressing matter of a new CEO appointment to attend to first and foremost, and Steve Ballmer’s successor faces the challenge of playing catch-up in the lucrative mobile market.
The Windows Phone operating system established itself as a distant challenger to iOS and Android in 2013, but developer support and available apps must significantly increase going forward if Microsoft has anything beyond bronze-medal ambitions.
The firm recently announced that its annual Build conference will take place between between April 2 and 4, and product announcements including the unveiling of Windows Phone 8.1 and a miniature Surface tablet are expected.
© PA Images / Mark Lennihan/AP
Panos Panay with the Surface 2
The so-called Surface Mini is believed to be an 8-inch slate with a high-end chipset and Kinect-like controls that will be pitted against the iPad mini next year.
Meanwhile, the days of Microsoft’s Windows RT operating system in its current form may be numbered, with recent comments from head of devices Julie Larson-Green suggesting that it could be merged with Windows Phone in the future.
With the consumer PC market in decline, the Windows firm is expected to continue its heavy investment in tablet and smartphones, so Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services business will no doubt be central to its plans.
© PA Images / Diane Bondareff/AP
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop unveils the Lumia 1020
Amazon: The smartphone market beckons
Amazon’s alleged designs to enter the smartphone sector is one of those rumours that refuses to die, so we’re convinced that there’s something in it.
The latest speculation points to an early-2014 release for the elusive device, with supplier Primax Electronics said to have just received a large order for compact camera modules (CCMs) from the online retailer.
Amazon’s rumoured smartphone, likely to be released under the Kindle banner, is said to feature floating touch technology thanks to the inclusion of six movement-detecting CCMs situated around its screen.
Previous reports suggest that Amazon has teamed up with HTC to develop its smartphone hardware, while the recruitment of former Windows Phone executive Charlie Kindel has only added fuel to the rumours.
© PA Images / Ross D. Franklin/AP
Google: Enter Google Glass
Google Glass is a device with the potential to revolutionise the tech industry, and the hi-tech headset is due to receive a consumer release at some point in 2014.
The web giant’s latest invention could well kickstart a craze surrounding wearable technology, beaming essential information direct to the user’s eyeline and allowing them to capture phone and video footage with a simple voice command.
But that’s not all we can expect in a post-Google Glass world, with questions of potential privacy violations and restricted usage when driving already being widely debated.
Google Glass has some potential pitfalls, but it’s one of the most anticipated tech products of all time and will be the start of something big.
Netflix and LoveFilm: Spearheading the 4K movement
The 4K movement gained pace last year, but price and a lack of optimised content have so far prevented it from gaining much mainstream traction.
This is likely to change in 2014, as a wide range of new Ultra HD sets are due to be announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.
Streaming services Netflix and LoveFilm are expected to spearhead 4K technology’s push towards widespread adoption, with the former having already outlined plans to deliver content in the standard, such as House of Cards season two.
Amazon has also announced that it will shoot all original LoveFilm content in 4K in 2014, and with more accessibly-priced hardware on the way, don’t expect UHD to go the way of living room 3D.