Mobile Phones could function as credit cards
Near field communications (NFC) chips, which in the future should find themselves in 1 out of every 5 mobile phones, enable users to use their mobile devices as credit cards. By simply waving a NFC powered cellphone next to a credit card reader, and after following regular credit card security protocols, in terms of commerce, you should find more convenience in 2012. Expect Google Wallet to be a large player in this new trend.
Gaming at a touch
You can blame the tablets for this trend, but expect touchscreen input to have a bigger impact on video gaming in 2012. Fiona, an upcoming gaming tablet from PC gaming hardware manufacturers Razer, is an uber power gaming PC in a tablet shell attached with controllers on either side, which will possibly be released at the end of this year. Other gaming devices with touchscreen input include Nintendo’s successor to the Wii, the Wii U, which will be released in the second half of 2012, and will feature a touchscreen controller that bears a strong resemblance to the iPad. Also, Sony’s upcoming handheld gaming device, PlayStation Vita, which has already been released in Japan, is not only as powerful as a current gen gaming console, but features a variety of touch input as well.
Tablet, tablet, everywhere
When Apple Inc. first launched the iPad in early 2010, not many of us could have predicted that it would actually sell like hot cakes, nor could anyone have anticipated the insatiable demand it would create for tablet devices in general. And while the iPad has until now been the tablet to purchase, with the Samsung Galaxy Tab (Android OS), Amazon Kindle Fire (lowest price point), Asus Transformer Prime (detachable keyboard), available in 2012 as quality alternatives. This will certainly be the year of the tablets.
The new operating system (OS) from Microsoft due for release this year exemplifies the newly found popularity of tablet devices. The most significant aspect of Windows 8, which will be immediately apparent to most users, is its new gorgeous looking tile-based user interface, christened Metro, designed for touchscreen use.
Thankfully, use of Metro on the new OS is not mandatory, and in fact users can switch to a more traditional user interface. And while you can expect Windows 8 to ship with a load of great new features, with Microsoft’s track record, how reliable the new operating system will be overall, is anyone’s guess.
There are two reasons why the fifth iteration of HTML — the language for structuring and presenting content for websites — will take the lead in 2012. The first is that Adobe has decided to end Flash — the software that serves video and rich applications — on mobile devices, leaving HTML5 to fill in the gap. The second is that HTML5 will allow developers to write software once for all platforms, rather than having to write software separately for various platforms. So not only will HTML5 result in richer and better applications, these applications will be available more readily, regardless of platform.
Say hello to ‘Ultrabooks’
Realising the increasing threat posed by the tablet market to PCs, Intel took the initiative to reduce the weight and size of mobile computer hardware. This resulted in extremely thin, and super attractive looking laptops dubbed “ultrabooks”. These ultrabooks — manufactured by Samsung, Lenovo, HP, Toshiba etc — which dazzled at the most recent CES (Consumer Electronics Show), are affordable, comparable in strength to a laptop, consume little power, and are expected to outsell regularly sized laptops in the future.
As reported by comScore, in terms of smartphone market share, Google is close to 50%, Apple is at about 30%, while the one time leader of all things smartphone, Research in Motion’s Blackberry, is down to 16.6%, and sliding further. To make matters worse for RIM, their upcoming flagship, Blackberry 10 isn’t available till the end of the year — that a little too late, if you ask smartphone enthusiasts.
The future is cloudy
Cloud Computing is the delivery of products like storage, music, television, video games, and movies, through the internet, rather than a physical medium, and has already found great popularity. Video game platforms such as Steam, PlayStation and The Xbox are storing your saved games and profiles on their own servers for your convenience. Services like OnLive are offering streaming of video games, while services like Apple TV, and Netflix offer steaming of TV shows and movies. Meanwhile Google offers information storage on its own servers.
With services like Windows Live, iCloud, Spotify, Google Music, all expected to gain in popularity, analysts expect this trend to grow further in 2012. However, they are warning that a high profile breach in security could mean darker clouds in our future.
The future of technology is definitely 3D, judging by high-def Blu-ray movies to Nintendo’s 3DS. And the latest company to hop onboard the 3D bandwagon is none other than Intel. Yes, Intel 3D microprocessors will be available in the mass market in 2012. No, you won’t need nerdy glasses to run your next computer; in fact the processors will be using sophisticated 3D assembly tricks. And Intel has even announced it’s found a great new way to compress size and power requirements in upcoming batches of CPUs.
Lytro is bound to herald a revolution in camera technology. The consumer-grade camera is capable of focusing on multiple points in an image with amazing accuracy after you’ve snapped the picture. It first made headlines this summer in 2011 and now it has a release timeframe: early this year.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2012.
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