This year promises more great technology. And nowhere does the phrase “out with the old and in with new” have more relevance than when it comes to technology.
Apple is late to the watch market but late doesn’t mean left behind. Apple has a habit of quickly becoming a leading player with fetching industrial designs when it enters a market.
Expected for release early this year, the Apple Watch – a.k.a. “Apple’s Most Personal Device Ever” – was announced way back in September. There will be three models of the watch –Watch, Watch Sport, and Watch Edition — in various screen sizes. There will also be no shortage of straps, with the watch sporting a wide range of strap colors and styles, including a flashy Sport Band and one with a flexible magnetic stainless steel mesh.
Not surprisingly, health and fitness monitoring will be front and center. Health is the meat of the wearables market, where Android Wear watches have already arrived in force. The Apple Watch includes an Activity app (e.g., calories burned), Workout app (pacing for running, cycling), and a built-in heart rate sensor. Needless to say, the iPhone is an essential part of the experience. The companion fitness app for the iPhone, for example, allows you to see your activity history in greater detail and then suggests goals.
This year will bring a new crop of Android phones, including the likely appearance of the Samsung Galaxy S6, a new HTC One model, an updated Sony Xperia, and new versions of the Motorola X.
Samsung has a number of novel phone designs that could arrive as updates or be incorporated into other models in 2015. For instance, design cues could come from the Galaxy Round, one of the first smartphones with a concave display, or Galaxy Note Edge with a curved edge (wrap-around) display. Most speculation is centered on an expected update to the current flagship, the Galaxy S5. A design refresh is imperative since consumer reception – as evidenced in sales figures – of the S5 has been disappointing. There are whispers about a “Project Zero,” hinting at a radical new phone design that could manifest itself in the Galaxy S6.
Other notable new phones would include a continuation of Sony’s winning ways with an update to the Xperia Z3. Motorola – now part of Lenovo – is also on a roll with its well-received second generation Moto X and just-released Nexus 6, so those updates will be watched closely. And there can never be too many gorgeous phones. HTC has kept itself relevant with the attractive and well-appointed HTC One M8 (available for both Android and Windows), so an M9 would be eagerly awaited by HTC One devotees.
Finally, there’s Google’s Project Ara. Project Ara, as Google describes it, allows you to create a modular smartphone.
So, for instance, you could upgrade just the camera component, snapping that into the existing chassis. Ara phones would allow you to focus on new features and not worry about shelling out money for a new phone and contract.
Apple is rumored to be working on a big tablet, possibly as large as 13 inches (12.9 inches is an oft-cited rumor). So is Sony. If both of those products materialize, king-sized tablets could emerge as a growth category for a maturing tablet market, which is expected to see much slower growth in 2015 than previous years.
So far, Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2 (12.2 inches) and Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro (13.3 inches) have not had much of an impact in the consumer space, where popular tablets top off at 10 inches. But the consumer space may not be the ultimate target for device makers offering tablets with laptop-sized screens. The Apple tablet, for example, could be an extension of the company’s collaboration with IBM. Called MobileFirst, IBM’s iOS apps and cloud services are targeted at businesses including banking, retail, insurance, and financial services. In business, the amount of screen real estate can make or break an application. Basically, the bigger the display, the better. Samsung is already playing to this market with Tab Pro 12.2, which comes with business apps designed specifically for a large-format tablet.
Finally, no big-tablet prediction would be complete without mentioning Microsoft’s generally well-received Surface Pro, which is currently offered with a spacious 12-inch display. Like Samsung’s Tab Pro 12.2 and Lenovo Yoga Tablet 2 Pro, the Surface Pro’s detachable keyboard is an essential element of the design. The next rev (fourth generation) of the Surface Pro could boast an improved keyboard and possibly include models with different screen sizes. The next Pro could also be a vehicle to highlight the new features of Windows 10, due later this year.
Let’s face it, a MacBook Air makeover is way overdue. The current design was introduced way back in 2010 and the chassis and display have remained essentially the same through the years. Internals have been updated but incremental silicon updates are a far cry from an organic redesign that unites new internals with a new look. Rumors hint at something new in 2015 (possibly with a 12 inch-class display) that may constitute a true physical makeover.
The never-say-die Windows laptop
Probably the most noteworthy attention-getter in this category will be price. Windows laptops are getting very cheap, even giving low-end Android tablets a run for the money. You can expect this trend to continue in 2015. Hewlett-Packard, the largest U.S. PC maker, seems intent on keeping the prices on many of its entry-level consumer laptops below $300 – sometimes well below $300. Asus, Acer, and Dell also appear willing to offer a selection of laptops priced between $199 and $300. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore the high-end. If HP, for example, begins to offer more cutting-edge designs like the slick Omen gaming laptop ($1,600), the Windows laptop could get a much-needed shot in the arm.