Last year for SeniorNet Kapiti was kind of cathartic, liberating and energizing and sending us in modernizing directions whilst maintaining the focus on our main purpose, that of improving the knowledge and skills in computing and communicating for our members.
That will not change for 2013.
But the very media we use – the computer and the proliferating number of communication devices – will see many new and wondrous gadgets coming to market.
Looking at the trends [and totally without any guarantees] there appears to be a shift to the touch based laptops and notebooks, a bit surprising for the conventional laptop since touch operation seems ergonomically quite wrong. Even iPad users often bought a keyboard as well, but by now it is less weird and getting not only accepted, but expected.
The battle royal between manufacturers such as Acer, Samsung, Asus, Dell, Apple and of course Microsoft has hotted up and you already know all about the various lawsuits about patent infractions, particularly between Apple and Samsung, which have added to the marketing mix by the majors. Maybe we shall see a real reduction in pricing of the models without the touch screen.
Into this came Microsoft with its ‘Surface’ tablet with what was to be the first operating system to be used by computer, tablet and phone seamlessly. Well, not quite so fast, the Windows RT operating system wasn’t quite Windows 8 which was used by new Windows computers, so whilst it was designed for touch screen use the expectations had clearly been for a user to be able to boot directly into Desktop mode, alas there was no Start button, and the RT had limited functionality compared to W8.
I think it safe to forecast that Microsoft in 2013 will come out with a full W8 system for their tablet and also for the W8 O/S to be upgraded to a newer version, perhaps Windows 9?
Another player deserving of attention is Google with their Nexus tablets and their Chrome laptops [made by Acer and Samsung]. The pricing of the Chromebook is becoming very competitive, and attractive where public WiFi is available. The tablets are going to proliferate with 7” and 10” vying for attention and these sizes may well dominate the market in 2013.
We may also see more of the so-called hybrids, a laptop with a removable screen that can act as a tablet and they are apparently selling in good numbers overseas. When allowed to be used within companies I feel sorry for the poor IT Manager who’ll have to support PCs, tablets and smartphones, but no doubt a growing trend.
Another growth area is the eBook offerings and apart from the several eBook Readers
e.g. Kindle, we mustn’t forget that Amazon’s Kindle Reader app is on just about every tablet sold so eBooks could be expected to sell twice the number of e-books compared to printed books in this coming year. Rather a large swing away from our conventional reading habits. Don’t forget though that an eBook Reader can store up to 1000 books so when you go on holiday there’s no need to carry a stack of heavy books with you.
Then there is our PC, where is it headed? Some have predicted its imminent demise for some time. It is true that laptops and the smaller Ultrabooks have overtaken the desktop PC is sales numbers in 2012. It is also true that a desktop PC is not really suitable for touch screen technology. For SeniorNet members a combination of a desktop computer and a tablet seems a likely and sensible solution. The desktop for the writing and internet, and the tablet for keeping up with emails on the move, as well as reading books anywhere and taking it with you to show photograph to the family and of course for quick communication when required.
Without getting in to the technology of what is inside the various devices there is one interesting aspect worth touching on, that is Voice dictation. You have heard of Siri, the Apple phone voice activated function you can ask questions of, and Google is coming out with ‘Google Now’ promising to give web search results, map directions and even conduct message on your behalf using your voice. Yes, what is the world coming to?
Of interest to laptop and phone users is battery life which I believe is largely down to
better or more efficient mobile processors. There is a fair bit of competition between the various makers of these and several impressive sounding battery saving technologies being touted for 2013.
A few other observations of things to come: One is ‘haptic’ feedback, actually already on some smartphones and tablets, and what it does is sending a sensory feedback to your fingertips when using the touchscreen, maybe to let you now the task is finished or to give a new feel of texture to the surface. May even help to overcome typing errors.
Another is a move away from touch to gesture. Not a bad idea to avoid the dirtied screens and finger marks. You have already seen this in use with e.g. Xbox Kinect Games consoles. Give it a few years and you’ll get your exercise from waving your arms at the TV instead of pressing buttons on the remote.
Lastly is the new technology of Eye tracking and behaviour recognition, not really Star Trek stuff as it is already being used for some internet connected TVs overseas. So the software on your tablet captures your body movements and analyses this so e.g. it may lock the tablet display if you look away. Whilst one could imagine that advertisers would love that, i.e. simply stopping the ad whilst you weren’t looking – oh dear – there is also a positive side where a Swedish Company has a prototype Windows tablet with eye-controlled interface, and the Gaze Group Eye Research Team from the IT University of Copenhagen has its own technology which has been used by people with disabilities for some 20 years.
Plenty to look forward to for 2013 then, and much more in the pipeline.
We wish you a wonderful 2013 and at Kapiti SeniorNet we look forward to welcome you back to learn more so that you may take advantage of the helpful and useful technology we can help you to master for making the most of life.
Happy New Year.