2010 was a great year for tech, and 2011 is shaping up to be another standout year for consumer electronics. Here are my predictions for the top tech trends of 2011.
Call it an oversized iPod Touch all you want, there’s no denying that the tablet is here to stay, thanks to the Apple iPad. Manufactures have been scrambling to hop on board the tablet craze with competing devices of their own, but none can come close to dethroning Apple’s device. Samsung took an admirable attempt with the Galaxy Tab, a 7-inch Android tablet, but Android Froyo (2.2) is still clearly meant for phones and not tablets. Google is readying Honeycomb (Android 3.0) for 2011, which promises better tablet support. RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook, sporting a powerful dual-core processor and a custom user interface is also set for a 2011 release. HP is also expected to unveil the much rumored PalmPad, a tablet powered by Palm’s webOS.
The Mighty Smartphone Gets Mightier
Mobile is exploding. In 2010 we saw many sleek and powerful phones sporting the latest operating systems from Apple, Google and Microsoft. If 2010 was the year of the Snapdragon processor, then 2011 will be the year of the NVIDIA Tegra 2. The Tegra 2 will be the first dual-core CPU for mobile devices, and according to a few who have had their hands on Tegra 2 devices, it’s fast—really fast.
Expect Apple to release a new iPhone later this year, and if the rumors are to be believed, also expect a Verizon version to be released as early as January. Android 2.3 Gingerbread just came out with the release of the Nexus S, and should be equipped on future Android-powered devices as well as many current Android devices via a software update. As mentioned earlier, Honeycomb is also set to come out in 2011.
Microsoft just announced that they have sold over one million Windows Mobile 7 devices, but they are still far behind Apple and Google. The future of Windows Mobile 7 will rest on how well they handle promoting their new OS and if they continue to get quality support from hardware manufacturers.
Last but not least, HP is expected to put its acquisition of Palm to use (finally) and announce a slew of new webOS devices, although unfortunately for them (and the very intuitive webOS), it may be too late for webOS to take on the big dogs.
The Year 3-D's Worth is Proved to the Masses (Again)
The entertainment industry wants us to love 3-D. Whether you do or not is up to you, but you can expect another big push for 3-D technology in 2011. Expect more 3-D movies to hit theaters and more 3-D televisions in stores. Sony is hyping up the 3-D capabilities of the Playstaion 3, and titles, including the drool-inducing Killzone 3, will support 3-D.
The most interesting piece of 3-D tech to be released this year isn’t going to be for the big screen or for your television screen though; it’s actually going to be one you hold in your hands. Nintendo’s successor to the highly popular DS gaming device is getting an upgrade in the form of the Nintendo 3ds, a handheld system sporting a 3-D screen that requires no goofy glasses to view. It’s slated to be released in the U.S. in March, and if the early previews are to be believed, it will be a game-changer.
They’re Called “Apps,” NOT Applications. Got It?
Some of you may not remember this, but when the iPhone first came out, there was no App Store. You were confined to web apps that were accessible through the Safari mobile browser. When Apple finally let developers build native apps for the iPhone, it changed the way people used their mobile devices in a really profound way. Now you can download a multitude of apps, little bite-sized applications, for nearly anything on your smartphone, regardless of the platform. Apple now wants to bring over the App Store to Mac OSX. An App Store will be included with Apple’s next OS update, OSX Lion, and it may prove to be an elegant way to find cheap apps for your iMac or your shiny new MacBook Air. If this takes off, then you can expect Microsoft to retaliate with an app store of their own for Windows. The days of expensive application suites may be coming to an end.
The Web Will Cheat on Your Computer With Your Television
Web-connected home-theater PCs have been around for a while now, but they have been typically reserved for the nerds among us who build machines to run Boxee or XMBC for the living room. Manufacturers are looking to fix that with more consumer-friendly web-connected devices for the living room. Devices like the Apple TV, Boxee Box and the Roku player all bring the web to your TV and are pretty simple to use. Google T.V. also just hit the market and aims to combine your existing television service with content from the web. Television manufacturers are also releasing more web-connected televisions, some even with Google T.V. baked-in.
Your Information Will Learn to Fly
Cloud computing is also something that isn’t technically new, but hasn’t really flourished in the mainstream yet. Google’s Chrome OS, a cloud-computing-based operating system, is set to be released sometime in 2011, and it aims to fix one of the biggest problems with our age of on-the-go computing; consolidating all of your data so that you have it on all of your devices. The premise of cloud computing is simple: Instead of storing your data locally on a hard drive, your data is stored in the cloud, so that you can access it via any computer with Internet access. With Chrome OS, all of your activities are done via web apps. This may sound like it’s still a far cry from replacing MacOSX or Windows, but when you think about how powerful web apps are becoming, it’s not hard to imagine a future where all our computing is done in the cloud.