We hope you’re as excited as we are for what the next 12 months may hold, but for all the tasty new tech we’re going to be getting our hands on, we’ll likely be saying goodbye to a few landmark gadgets and gizmos by the time we ring in 2016.
Here are five techy offerings that we don’t expect to last past the next year.
1. Dedicated Sat Navs
There’s no doubt that we have a lot to thank the humble Sat Nav for. They’ve pointed us right in rainstorms and blizzards, saved us from a few potential speeding tickets and more, but like so many things, they’ve been absorbed to help complete the modern smartphone experience, rendering standalone units a little pointless.
It’s fair to say that mapping on mobile devices isn’t perfect, yet, but with instant updates, mobile connectivity, offline maps and integration with services like Google Now and Siri, mapping on mobile makes for a greater experience than we’ve ever seen from a dedicated Sat Nav.
Let’s not forget that nowadays you can even get a fully-fledged Android or Windows Phone device, complete with a mapping app or two, for less than the price of a Sat Nav and brands who made a name for themselves in the market, like TomTom and Garmin boast mobile apps anyway.
2. Low-end digital cameras
Arguably one of the most hotly contested smartphone skill sets comes with its camera. Last year we had a whole array of devices capable of shooting 4K video, packing impressive image stabilisation technology and a blend of massive megapixel sensors and optical zooms.
With such strong snapping capabilities, the affordable point-and-shoots that usually sell for a couple of hundred quid have less of a place on store shelves to call their own.
3. Modular smartphones
The concept behind the ‘modular smartphone’ is pretty cool: battery life not meeting your needs? Swap it out for a larger capacity unit. Don’t use NFC? Replace it with additional RAM to improve performance.
The idea has been talked about for long enough and 2015 should give us the most complete offerings of the notion to date; with Google’s Project Ara, as well as lesser-known names like Phonebloks, Vsenn and the PuzzlePhone finally making an appearance. But for all the hype around them, can the concept really work?
Building your own smartphone may sound ideal on paper, but there a few hurdles on both sides of the fence to overcome. For manufacturers, build quality and reliability have to be exceedingly high; you can’t have components popping out every time you drop your phone, not to mention a new retail ecosystem would need to be implemented in brick and mortar phone stores as well as online.
Meanwhile the appeal of modular smartphones for consumers will be limited. Not everyone will want to have to build a handset piece by piece when they pick up a new device. Too much choice can be a bad thing and chances are the majority will want a more complete device that’s ready to go from the off without having to fiddle with all those variables.
4. Amazon Fire Phone
Amazon’s made a pretty convincing case for its range of Kindle Fire tablets over the last few years. The latest lineup features a blend of affordability, functionality and power that’s hard to pass up, not to mention a few unique features like Mayday to call their own. The same can’t be said for the Fire Phone however, which also made its debut this year.
Whilst on paper the handset boasts some pretty tasty specs; like a 13-megapixel snapper with OIS (optical-image-stabilisation), it falls flat in the flesh. One of the big hooks of the Fire Phone is its Dynamic Perspective user interface, which relies on four additional front-facing cameras to track your face in order to create a sudo-3D effect on-screen that reacts based on the phone’s position in relation to the user. It’s a novel technology that has an initial ‘wow’-factor, but beyond that it’s little more than an over-engineered gimmick that hogs power and resources.
The other feather the Fire Phone flaunts in its cap is its Firefly function, which can be used to identify thousands of products, TV shows, movies and music to bring you information on them and more importantly for Amazon, let you purchase them from one of the company’s various stores. Whilst this may be useful 5 per cent of the time, this feature has little use elsewhere.
All this paired with carrier exclusivity and a surprisingly high price tag has meant that the first Fire Phone didn’t make the impact the company had hoped and we’d be surprised to see a successor that tries the same tricks again, this year or the next.
5. VR in mobile
‘Virtual reality’ has been a bit of a buzzword in recent months, the Oculus Rift has served as the poster child for the latest and greatest incarnation of the technology, but the mobile industry has tried its hand at making experiences that boast that same sense of immersion, with varying levels of success.
Samsung’s Gear VR Innovator Edition has ties to Oculus and is arguably the most complete mobile take of VR, whilst an offering from Archos and Google’s Cardboard project make the technology more accessible. One aspect of VR that doesn’t really mesh well with the world of mobile is portability.
It’s hard enough to text and walk down the street at the same time, donning your smartphone as part of a VR experience, requires that you stay in position and that you have enough space around so as not to bump into object or people. Provided you can find somewhere to plug into the Matrix, then you might as well opt for a more powerful experience that can be run off the more serious hardware available in a fully-fledged computer.
Agree or disagree? Let us know which techy trends you expect won’t make it beyond next December in the comments below and have a happy 2015.
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