2010 is almost over – hard to believe, but true. This year flew past faster than data through a broadband connection, and we’ve seen a great deal of progress happening on the tech front.
The year started with a bang when Apple introduced the world to the next great iGadget, the iPad, and effectively started a new paradigm shift on the bookstore and reading front. However, their evolutionary iPhone 4, whilst including some impressive improvements, came with some major flaws. Google continued its smartphone onslaught with Android, and replied to Apple’s iPad with Chrome OS, the company’s own operating system with heavy emphasis on cloud computing.
Sony and Microsoft joined the immersion movement in gaming with the PlayStation Move and Xbox Kinect, ready to take on Nintendo’s Wii. Facebook introduced its geo-location service Places and a site redesign, and Mark Zuckerberg promised to put an end to email with a major change to Facebook Messages, introducing a “one inbox fits all” product. Research in Motion announced their competitor to the iPad, targeted at the business crowd, in the form of the BlackBerry Playbook. Oh, and Apple also introduced a Mac App Store.
I’ve decided to compile a list of my top tech advances of 2010. This list spans hardware products to software services; the core aim is to define the technological products and services that will or have improved our daily lives.
Google’s Android mobile operating system has grown exponentially since it was introduced to the world in October 2008. Now powering hundreds of different devices, and coming in a wide variety of flavors, the open-source system has proved a deadly threat to both Research in Motion’s Blackberry OS (which dominates the business world) and the popular Apple iOS.
For us consumers, Android is a great competition instigator that, being open source, allows for innovation to occur and pushes the boundaries of mobile computing, meaning that at the end of the day, we get the best products developed by all mobile companies.
Every time Facebook introduces a site overhaul, it’s met with widespread criticism. However, with this latest revamp of the popular social network, the new Facebook Profile displays vital information in a direct manner, and emphasizes the important aspects of the site (viz. Photos and bio’s).
The inclusion of being able to add what projects one has worked on, and the cleaner look of the Profile means that navigating the site, and spending time on the desktop version of Facebook is a lot easier than before. Plus, the redesign asserts the fact that Facebook takes its desktop site seriously – a good thing for future updates.
2010 has certainly been the “year of 3D”. As The New York Times has pointed out earlier this year, 3D printing – the art and science of “printing” 3D models – has taken off, with companies in New York offering the services of printing real-life models of designs users have created on their home computers using free software like Google’s SketchUp.
3D printing is certainly taking off, and cheaper printers like MakerBot are paving the way for this technology to make its inroads into the mainstream consumer market. It’s a sure signal of what the future of consumer technology will look like, and opens up new opportunities for home industries.
Microsoft’s Kinect poses the biggest threat Nintendo’s Wii has ever seen. It’s concept of doing away with the traditional controller altogether, and instead using the body as the controller, sounds like something out of a Bond movie. Yet the technology is now commercially available, and allows a new dimension into immersing one’s self in a game.
Already, tech pundits are predicting uses for Kinect’s technology outside the gaming world; it seems like motion-activated control is going to be the “next big thing” after the touch revolution brought on by Apple’s iOS devices. One thing’s for sure: Kinect is set to change the way we perceive computing in the not too distant future.
As I mentioned above, 2010 has been the year of 3D. Riding on the runaway success of James Cameron’s epic blockbuster Avatar, more and more film studios are buying in to the “3D gimmick”. And so it only makes sense that TV makers the likes of Sony and Samsung are developing 3D televisions.
Whilst I (like quite a few others) feel that 3D is a huge gimmick, the fact is that 3D films sell. And this it’s justified to take the technology into the home theater.
3D TVs may be expensive now, but as demand increases for the new technology, and competition between manufacturers ramps up, we’re sure to see prices decelerate.
Facebook and Twitter, the two most popular social networking sites, have introduced GPS services to track one’s location, and “geo-social” “games” such as Gowalla and foursquare have continued to up their services. Geo-location has become an important part of social networking, and another way that visionaries are integrating the “real world” with the “virtual world”. It’s big technology that’s definitely going to get more prominence as our favorite networks continue to update their services.
It’ll be released in January 2011, and like the App Store before it, the Mac App Store will revolutionize the way we obtain software for our computers. It carries that trademark and unmistakable “Revolutionary Apple” feel to it – I can expect Microsoft and others to jump on this bandwagon with their own version of an “app store” for desktop applications.
The Mac App Store has the potential to revolutionize the way we discover, purchase and share desktop applications.
We’re not quite sure whether it’s an OS or a glorified web browser (okay, it really is an OS, but seriously, it’s just Chrome on top of Linux) but Chrome OS sure looks interesting. A different take on using a computer, this Google operating system emphasizes the best of cloud computing.
I can see it becoming popular with students in Internet-connected countries where one can work on a document wherever there’s an internet connection, regardless what device one uses to write that doc with. Chrome OS introduces the world to a new way of using computers, and for that, we applaud Google on their endeavor.
In a bold move, TIME Person of the Year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced late 2010 that he plans to “kill” email with the introduction of a single inbox for all messages – from instant texts, to SMS, to the traditional email messages we’ve become accustomed to. I see this as a phenomenal move in the way we communicate, and it represents, for me, the future of connecting with people.
Whilst Facebook Messages represents a drastic change in the way we communicate, the medium of communication – the computer – is still the most important. And for that, first prize of the best tech product for 2010 undoubtedly goes to Apple’s “magical” iPad. It is already doing to books and magazines what the iPod did to music. And it is constantly changing the way we access information, and consume rich content from pictures to video to text.
The iPad shaped the personal computing horizon for 2010 by drastically influencing the competition: rivals like Samsung and HP began scrambling to develop a device worthy of competing with the iPad – but they were too late; the iPad had already captured the hearts of millions around the world, and it has, like its brothers before it, become a symbol of digital content consumption for the new era in computing.
The above is just my opinions of the best tech for 2010; what’s yours? Drop a line or two in the comments!
I'm a young writer from South Africa, chronicling the changing tides in the ever-flowing river of technology. Focusing mainly on Apple-related technologies, I enjoy sharing my opinion and giving a few tips and tricks here and there on the latest and greatest from 1 Infinite Loop. I'm an avid blogger, and an even more avid reader.