Hi guys and welcome back to Technology Reviews! Before I get started, I’d like to explain some things going on with the updates, and what the future of this blog will be like. So before and after Christmas, I found I was worrying too much about meeting a Thursday and Friday deadline, and this meant I wasn’t able to brainstorm new ideas or fully research and take in everything which I was reviewing. And as well as this, I’ve had other commitments as far as writing goes. So for now, I’m just blogging when I feel I have something new _ but my usual reviews of accessible technology and top most accessible games and apps will still be coming. So after this blog, I will send out a out one reviewing what I did for my 22nd birthday on 8th January, but I don’t know when I will get anything out after.
But before anything else let’s get in to this blog.
It may not seem like it, but Technology has changed in a lot of ways over the years, and thanks to this, it is now an every day part of our lives. New inventions seem to be coming out every year, and with a lot of more smart technologies, they all seem to be becoming accessible. But as much as it’s interesting to look into the future, it is also interesting to look back on years past, and see how the technology of our past has shaped what we have now. So _ even though this New Year blog is a few weeks late _ I will look at technology we had in 2009, and what we had/have in 2019/20.
These tiny, low-priced, lower power PCs were the tech product story of 2009, but also a mixed blessing for PC makers and consumers. While hardware manufacturers were thrilled to have a hit on their hands, the computers generally had razor-thin profit margins, and the consumers who bought these laptops got cheap, super light computers that frequently run old operating systems, lack optical drives, and are far slower than they’d otherwise expect on a desktop or full sized laptop.
Phones that Navigate
In 2009, GPS companies were becoming weary of the mobile phone. That year, the iPhone became capable of handling turn-by-turn auto navigation programs, and Google released free turn-by-turn navigation for Androids. This meant phones could easily update their maps and databases over the internet _ not great news for GPS companies. Now, in 2020, we can travel to places using GPS apps on our phones, and it is funny thinking of the arguments this brought up now.
Though digital 3D movies had been around for a couple of years at the time, its widespread adoption had been knocked back by a stalemate: Studios were reluctant to invest in big-budget 3D movies that would only play on a number of screens, and without a balanced stream of 3D movies, cinema-owners were reluctant to install such screens.
Although the App Store was originally released in 2008, by 2009 it had a hundred-thousand apps available for download. Taking inspiration from Apple’s success, Android _ as well as BlackBerry and Palm _ took to developing their own app stores, which would all get up over the following months and years.
Android in Everything
The Android phone first came out in 2008, and it spent 2009 as a niche platform tied to a single phone and carrier. Then, at some other point in 2009, it exploded across manufacturers and carriers, and soon began popping in to non-phone devices, such as the Barnes & Noble Nook e-book reader, and a tablet made by Archos.
iPad and Other Members of Tablet Revolution
It may not seem like it’s now 10 years ago, but the 2010 tech scene started with the then-new, iPad. For web browsing, ebook reading, games and office work, the iPad automatically had manufacturers trying to prove they could beat it with their own prototypes _ in a way that it isn’t surprising now that the iPad has so many models.
The iPhone may only have been 3 years old in 2010, but it was already the smartphone trendsetter that everyone wanted to beat. When the fourth model arrived, the big features were the Selfie camera and Retina Screen, but it was still very small. It stayed big until the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6 _ which were available in optional colours _ but it’s still good to look back on.
Yes, the iPhone, in most cases, was running ahead, but it was competing against Android phones like the Droid II, the Droid X, and the Samsung Galaxy S _ to name but a few _ while the BlackBerry was also trying to get on the touchscreen stage. The iPhone and Samsung also had to compete against the Windows phone _ launched by Microsoft _ and there’s now many other phones who have joined the stage _ so everything’s getting tighter.
3D and Smart TVs
With the rise in popularity of 3D movies, it was obvious the next step would be to add it into TVs. But not only was 3D added to TVs. This was also when television developers looked to adding in the web and other streaming services into their products. In 2007, Apple released the Apple TV, but it mostly languished until it was rebooted with a major price out. In addition with Netflix, it already let people buy tv shows for cheap, and Google began promoting a similar system, with work starting on the Google TV.
The Streaming Revolution is Born
In 2010, people were just being introduced to services like Netflix, but the usual home was still getting used to the idea of new Blue-Ray DVDs, or other DVDs they had hiding around. But as the idea of subscribing for a mix of movies got bigger _ instead of having to go out and buy or rent a DVD _ we slowly got to where we are now, when very few people use DVDs anymore.
Xbox Kinect and PS MOVE
With the launch of the popular Nintendo Wii in 2006 _ using motion sensor controllers instead of a handheld one _ Microsoft and Sony were left to come up with their own alternatives. Although I never had one _ due to the controller not being accessible _ the Kinect was a camera add on for the Xbox that saw a player’s movements and converted their gestures and running-in-place movements into the game. The PS Move, meanwhile, consisted of two motion control wands and an accompanying motion sensor camera.
Social Media on Smartphone
Scrolling through your Facebook feed or tweeting a selfie used to be incredibly difficult in 2010. Those social platforms were still largely experiences designed for your PC. With the iPhone and Android universes still comparatively small, the mobile experience for Facebook and Twitter was barebones, fisted or both. This is probably why _ while Facebook had a mobile app out in 2008 _ it took years for it to get to a reasonable state on usability.
Group Texting Grows in Popularity
2011 began with a handful of group texting applications becoming more mainstream _ including Beluga, which became Facebook Messenger _ and GroupMe _ which was acquired by Skype, and became Skype Messenger. Later on, WhatsApp joined the group messaging stage _ launching with a free texting element _ which stuck with its users.
Social Networks Continued to Explode
Google launched Google Plus, which grew quickly, Facebook revamped their profiles and features, and launched their iPad app, while Twitter evolved their own activities, and Instagram exploded, with millions using it to post million of photos each day. This meant people could post photos and videos on the go, instead of having to always log in on computers.
Gadgets that make social networking easier
A slew of new gadgets that made social networking and social media more easy to access from anywhere started taking place. Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Sony Tablet S and Amazon Kindle products entered the market, blurring the line between e-readers and their tablets. Beyond tablets, Apple _ in the aftermath of the loss of its founder, Steve Jobs _ saw success with the iPad Air, as well as showing hands free ways of socialising with Siri, and with the release of the iPhone 4S.
Pinterest becomes new social graph
By 2012, Social Media had really taken ground. People were passed the early social media giants, MySpace and Bebo, and the only early social networking site that stayed popular was video-sharing, YouTube.
Then, in the same year, Pinterest became a major traffic generator. The site quickly overtook Yahoo, Twitter and Bing, and was just behind Google and Facebook. Its format _ where you can view colourful photos of unique gift items and crafts, and share pictures with each other _ made it possible with many businesses, who could use Pinterest boards to help their sales.
Touch Screen Computers
Many companies promised touch computers would take over small businesses, influenced by the tablet revolution that had grown massively within a couple of years. Most things were done through touch technology, so it was clear the craze was becoming real. Later in 2012 we saw the Windows 8 released, along with Acer touch computers and Lenovo. I’ve never tried one, but my concern about touchscreen laptops is how you have to be able to reach your arm out, which doesn’t make them accessible for paralysed people like myself, or have other physical disabilities. However, while many businesses jumped on the touchscreen computer cart, others, like Apple, are still to do this _ and I think Apple keeping their MacBooks like this is a better plan _ though my hope for 2020 on is they start trying to get Face ID into their laptops.
Screen resolution goes through the roof
The iPad 4 with Retina display had a slim and sleek design, and was powered by a 1.4 GHz Apple A6X processor. After it was launched in 2012, it was sold to adapt to your needs with maximum performance. But the extended battery life wasn’t too much to compare it with if you used it every day, and like other screen technology of the day, the new screen size would be laughable if you compared it with today’s screens _ even the 11″ iPad Pro I have! The Google Nexus 10 tablet also used 2000 pixels, and had a bigger screen than its earlier models. That meant every image, every line of text, and every website looked more distinct, and over the next few years, they all kept getting better.
BlackBerry had had problem for many years, and while it hoped to still have a chance to get a place in the next stage of smartphones, others like the iPhone and Samsung were still beating it. It was known as being easily breakable, with multiple bending into curves, and I don’t recall people who had it saying the hardware lasted ages. So with this, the BlackBerry slowly headed into the Abyss, and died.
Second Screen Resolution
In 2013, more than 80% of smartphone and tablet owners said they used their devices while watching tv, 51% posted on social media while watching tv to connect with others who might be watching the same thing, and 24% of Facebook users posted the movies they were watching. The figures are bound to be up now, but at the time, people said this showed the second-screen had arrived but it wasn’t yet a revolution _ though, I’d say we’re nearly there now. Following a 2013 review, media companies and marketers got more aggressive and inventive in how they dealt with the second-screen, with one reporting that engagement is stronger with second-screen marketing programs than traditional online advertising.
Death of Desktop Computers
With the launch of Windows 8 came the dumping of old desktop computers. When Windows 10 came out, it had a mirror-like setup of 200 or so Surface tablets, and highlighted the lack of traditional computers running Windows 10. You could get laptops and tablets and All-in-One PCs, but although these tried to kill Desktop computers off completely, a lot of businesses, schools and some households still have them.
It had in fact been round a lot longer _ but with it being used in various films like Iron Man 2 _ 3D printing was becoming more mainstream. It was still young, but businesses could already create prototypes, changing how different design processes worked. With more durable materials and improved hardware and software, it became possible to manufacture products with 3D printers. This had the potential to change entire supply chains and distribution, and in a way, they have.
TVs; computers; tablets; and phones all get thinner with each release, and in 2013, we were already thinking of more flexible and foldable devices. But warnings came up everywhere of people saying companies should make sure by folding a device, it doesn’t break, and as a result, there were a lot of failed experiments. This saw the foldable devices being put on hold, and so, the first foldable devices were only out in 2018/19. But still, some companies are still in the research and developing stage, with Apple planning to release its foldable phone either this year or next year.
But to date, we already have the Galaxy Folds, as well as the more expensive foldable computers.
Embedded Technology (or technology with smarts built in)
Embedded technology may not have made it into the iPhone 5 (2013’s new Apple Phone), but traditional objects with smarts inside them was still a talking point… and happening. Back then, Geeks had to sell the idea of door handles opening by themselves, blinds closing without you having to do anything, and thermostats learning what makes you comfortable to people outside technology, yet, in 2019 and 2020, we’re now able to set these up.
Another point worth mentioning is that robots were starting to become more popular in 2013, and now we have our household machines acting like robots themselves. But as technology grew in 2013, so came problems with Data. At one point it seemed like technology was going to know everything about you, and that held way for what all happened in 2014.
Smart watches like Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and the Pebble Smart Watch continued to be more useful ass developers created more apps for the device. Health-tracking devices like Nike’s Fuel Brand, Jawbone Up and Fitbit Force continue to drive health technology into the mainstream _ and it’s because of this, we’ve seen a growth in a population wanting to track their heart rates. But still, Apple didn’t end up moving like this until it released the Apple Watch in 2015.
Machines in the Sky
Yes! 2014 was the year of the Drone. Although they’d started gaining attention in 2013, it took 2014 for things to get a bit more exciting. Jeff Bezos _ Amazon’s CEO _ planned to use drones to deliver packages from Amazon in 30 minutes, and in 2013, Drones were said to be able to deliver beer and pizza to your home if you live in the UK. But such good ideas did come with their problems: with customers becoming worried that their amazon order might get dropped on their head, and when a drone interrupted flights at Belfast airports.
Smart TVs grew in popularity, with more homes having the option to browse the internet, launch apps and have social interactions _ all through their TVs. Plans began for TVs in future to be controlled by Smart Home devices, which is now possible with the release of smart speakers. Thanks to the releases of these devices in 2017, we’re now able to control our TVs with voice, and we can also control them with apps on our phones.
A fight for privacy
After a year when Data could be breached in lots of ways and there was almost no way to decide what you wanted to be kept private, it was no wonder that by 2014, there was a fight for privacy. This led to the privacy settings we have when surfing the web today, which made technology a whole lot _ though not completely _ safer.
Saving to the cloud started in 2011, and by 2015, the convergence of cloud and mobile computing continued to promote the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device. This made working on stuff through different apps and on multiple devices easier, as a team or by yourself.
3D Printing Grows
Advances in 3D printing had already enabled 3D printers to use a wide range of materials, and with the growth came more demand. Now, in 2020, jobs in 3D printing and 3D printers themselves are continuing to grow, but we’re still a long way from them being affordable enough for loads of people to be able to get them for their homes.
Advanced Machine Learning
This one I think we can agree is not one of the best technologies, but it’s worth mentioning anyhow. Machine learning is meant to be the technological way of making decisions, though it often doesn’t make the right ones. Since its release, there have been numerous attempts to fix these problems, but as things stand, it isn’t too close to get things right.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now all around us, yet if we were told about what all we have in 2009, we wouldn’t have believed it. Near enough everything around us can be automated, including apps; drones; autonomous vehicles and smart appliances, which are rumoured to help the environment. Our TVs can now get turned on with AI, and we can now have full conversations with our technology.
Virtual and Augmented Reality
Virtual and Augmented Reality are 2 digital platforms _ one which makes you feel like you’re in a video game _ and the other which lets you put digital elements into a real life world, often using a phone camera. These capabilities aimed on forming a more seamless system of devices capable of orchestrating a flow of information that comes from the user.
Internet of Things becomes more intelligent
It had been around and was being talked about for a few years at this point, but the Internet of Things is the place where all the every day smart devices we have live, like Smart Lights etc. More things have been added to it since smart speakers like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomePod were created, which adds to it becoming even more intelligent.
Xbox Adaptive Controller
I’ve talked about the Xbox Adaptive Controller on here before, and it is basically an Xbox controller aimed towards people with physical disabilities. Microsoft announced it around Easter 2018, before releasing it just before Christmas that year, leading to it being widely used in 2019.
Internet of Things will deliver new opportunities
A number of smart devices that can connect to the internet came out in the last year, making the Internet of Things get even bigger. We can now control a number of our every-day home devices by connecting them to the internet, and more will be added through this year and beyond.
AR is Expected to overcome VR
Thanks to games like Pokemon Go and Minecraft Earth, the AR craze has quickly blown up. Augmented Reality is when you add digital elements to the real world using your phone or tablet camera, while Virtual Reality is when you put a headset over your eyes, making you feel like you’re in a game. But if AR is going to beat VR, there’s just one thing I think developers should be aware of. For me, it’s hard to play an AR game while out in my wheelchair, and while Minecraft Earth is a lot more accessible that Pokemon Go, developers still need to think how they can open AR games up to the disabled and elderly community, while also keeping us safe.
While it’s still too early to tell completely what 2020’s technology stage will be like, there are a few early predictions. For starters; we’re due to see a breakout moment of AI; practical deployment of the Internet of Things; increased demand for edge computing processing; and evolution of Aerospace technologies, as well as a new era of the internet; of healthcare; of agriculture; and an evolution of autonomous driving technology. But overall, I would say my top technology moment from just over the last decade was when the Adaptive Controller was announced, as part of other adaptive devices, and to open devices up to disabled children, young adults and adults, as well as the elderly. I just hope that we can move quicker towards making everything accessible, than it took us to get to this point.