From Apple Watch to a new Windows, 2015 promises to be a year to remember in technology.
Last year felt as if the technology industry needed a breather. It doesn’t mean we didn’t see the usual torrent of new products, but some most hotly discussed and debated products had either already been released (in the case of the Xbox One and Playstation 4) or had yet to be released (Apple Watch). We still got a new iPhone in 2014, but Apple has been so consistent in their design and execution of their new phone each year, it doesn’t even count anymore.
Looking ahead at 2015, the year promises to be anything but slow. At least two of the stories below (Apple Watch, Windows 10) feature products that have the potential to set the standard in their category for years to come. Of course, it would be hard to write a feature about the year ahead in technology without looking at the state of security and privacy online, which has the potential to again be the biggest story of the year.
We’re getting close to the official release date of “early 2015” Apple mentioned in its initial keynote for the Apple Watch. If Apple does hit that target it won’t be long before we finally get our hands on the most anticipated “wearable” of all time.
Even though that segment of technology has seen some success with products like Pebble and Fitbit, it has still to be seen if a large manufacturer can make good on the promises of smart watches. To date, entries from Samsung and others based on Android have been less than desirable. Even the promising Moto 360 hasn’t met expectations.
If Apple’s initial demonstrations are anything to go by (and they often are), its controls for navigating around a smart watch should be the most intuitive yet.
If there’s anything we’ve learned from the first batch of smart watches it’s to wait and see. Whether it has been battery life problems, ugly design, or simply odd design decisions, the current crop of smart watches all fell into that “cool, but no thanks” category. The entire smart watch segment is still too new to make any snap judgements. And while the Apple Watch might look like a wonderful piece of tech we need to wait for the actual product before we’re ready to crown it king. At least in 2015 we’ll finally be able to do that.
This might be the year Microsoft makes a comeback in the consumer space. Despite its best efforts to fix the problems, the Windows 8 family (including Windows 8.1) was tremendously polarizing for the company. Microsoft wanted to get everyone using its phones, tablets, and desktops all on a similar platform, but what it didn’t seem to understand was the tremendous affinity users had for its desktop product. I always believed Windows 8.1 fixed a lot of what Microsoft got wrong with Windows 8 but the damage had already been done and it never saw the wide-scale adoption Windows 7 had.
With Windows 10, Microsoft will look to fix everything. They’ve decided to put an end to the infamous duelling interfaces in Windows 8 and bring back the Start Menu. While most power-users will probably not care too much either way, I have to admit, the Start Menu, even the Windows 7-style menu, is much better for mouse/keyboard navigation than the tile-based Windows 8.1 system. The new Start Menu will be redesigned with many new design elements but looks like it remains grounded in what consumers have loved about it for decades.
As Windows 10 launches this year the focus will be on the return of the Start Menu. Still, the new operating system features many other new features, like multiple desktops and other modern enhancements, that could make it quite desirable compared to its competition.
Steam Machines/Steam Boxes
Does anyone even remember these were supposed to be a thing in 2014? Steam boxes were supposed to invade living rooms in 2014 and nothing really ever happened. Steam is the hugely popular digital distribution service for PCs. (It’s a way of downloading video games without having to go to the store.) Steam Boxes or Steam Machines - we’re still not sure what we’re supposed to call them - are purpose-built gaming computers with all the attachments to easily connect it to your living room TV and home network. They also feature a special controller built by Valve.
Apparently, all the delays that have pushed the platform’s official launch back to 2015 were due to Valve redesigning its Steam Controller. Initial prototypes of the controller sported two haptic feedback enabled touch disks, designed to mimic the feel of a computer mouse. They also included touch screens, but all the innovation still seemed to put the controller as a secondary option to the mouse/keyboard combination so many PC gamers favour. Valve seems to be trying to create a control scheme that PC gamers will actually favour over mouse and keyboard, but only time will tell if they succeed. Hopefully that time will be later this year.
Hacks, hacks and more hacks
If 2014 didn’t send you running to up your security on every possible level, nothing probably will. Everyone from corporate executives to regular technology service users have had to deal with the fallout from large-scale hack and data loss. Education plays a big part in making sure you’re secure online but even high-security won’t protect you from beaches on the scale of Sony’s.
So far in 2015 we’ve seen the U.S. military’s central command social networks taken over by ISIS supporters and the new year is only 14 days old.
Here are two options for you right now that will help you generate fantastically secure new passwords, store them, and even audit them. In an online world still dominated by passwords, it’s basically a no-brainer. Especially when one of these options is free. Both are cross-platform and support all the top browsers. It really just comes down to price and personal preference.
What do you think will be the biggest tech stories in 2015? Share your thoughts below.