The year 2015 has been an interesting year in terms of consumer electronics. This year we saw a new Apple Watch, hover boards, and multiple different 3D interface devices, including a few that can be built at home. I know that tech gadgets aren’t for everybody, but with the great advances of this year I am excited for what next year will bring. The great yet somewhat annoying thing about new gadgets is how quickly the prices fall. A large television that was priced at $2000 can have a comparable alternative by the next year for a quarter of the price. Technology is getting bigger, better, faster, and cheaper, and it seems as though 2016 will be the most affordable year in terms of the sheer quantity of interesting gadgets. I have learned over the years that new technology is always around the corner, and while I have been known to be an early adopter of many new products, I often find myself enjoying the novelty of older gadgets. In 2016, I expect technology to make a massive shift into the scifi realm, and I think we will see some products that were once thought of as impossible. I don’t expect to see hologram phones just yet, but based on the technological advances of the past five years, something huge is right around the corner.
It is becoming all too common an occurrence for blockbuster movies to release their initial trailers online only these days. It seems like the Internet revolution has finally begun to take over cinema. I am convinced that in the near future films will be simultaneously released in theaters and online but I guess that is a topic for another day. Today Fox released the trailer for their upcoming X-men film, and while I found it to be quite underwhelming, it doesn’t change the fact that more and more film makers are putting their initial trailers on the Internet for fans to get excited about. I was always used to catching the premiere of a trailer during the viewing of another blockbuster, and I always felt as though tying anticipated trailers to a current release helped drive ticket sales, but I guess the numbers just didn’t stack up. With sites like YouTube, it was becoming impossible for companies to keep their trailers from being leaked, so now it seems they are willing to post them directly to the source. By releasing trailers online, these film makers are not only controlling the hype around their film, but also creating extra publicity via social media. It is clear that the Internet has had a huge effect on media consumption in general, and as we shift to a more web based society, I expect to see much less of the old guard techniques in advertising and much more web only productions.
Marvel and Netflix have done it again and created another perfect binge watching masterpiece. Jessica Jones is the newest Marvel superhero to grace the small screen, and while she was virtually unknown to most viewers I am sure this show has caused a boom in interest in this character. Earlier this year when marvel released Daredevil, they laid out plans to create a small screen connected universe of their lesser known properties. Jessica Jones is the second hero marvel decided to introduce, however I don’t know if Jessica can be considered very heroic in the standard sense of the term. The character of Jessica Jones is known for being a failed super hero who has relegated her life to alcoholism and a private investigation company. While the Netflix show delves deep into her alcoholism, it never shows her as a failed hero, but more as an underachiever who seems to be crumbling under the weight of her own talents. Jessica Jones is a show that is ripe with character development, as it quietly introduced somewhat in depth origin stories of several other lesser known Marvel properties while masterfully explaining what makes Jessica tick. Much like Daredevil, the show is made almost entirely on the sinister nature of the main villain, and the major external antagonist of Jessica Jones is a devious man named Killgrave. Killgrave is a psychotic, sociopathic individual, who has the power to compel others to do anything he wants, however he uses this power almost exclusively to torment Jessica into choosing to be with him. While the Killgrave of the comics was much more sinister than the version on the show, the writers perfectly portrayed how awful this individual’s perception of reality and morality actually is. Jessica Jones is a terrific show, it is a bit raunchy and extremely violent, but that is to be expected in the world of Netflix dramas. Each episode is almost an hour long, but the story flows seamlessly enough that it is easy to find yourself watching two or three episodes at a time. I was actually able to watch the entire season in one weekend, and while I enjoyed the show, I now have to face the realization that season two is going to be an entire year away.
With modern advancements in technology, it is no longer a question of if you can do something on your mobile device, but when. In just a mere eight years, mobile phones have gone from being a luxury device to an everyday companion to over a billion people around the world. I once worked with mobile phones and I have to admit there were several things I believed would never make it to a mobile device, and today I can proudly list the top 5 things I thought would never be doable on a smartphone.
1. Order and Pay for Takeout
I am still getting used to no longer having to dial up Pete down the street when I am hungry for some pizza, but apps like Grubhub and Seamless have made ordering delivery or takeout as simple as a few taps on a screen. I have to admit I never thought my clumsy old blackberry would be able to deliver my lunch, but now we are possibly a couple of years away from it being able to control my entire kitchen.
2. Hail a Cab
Catching a cab in New York City can at times be stressful, but apps like Uber and Lyft have cut out the waiting and given customers like myself a personal car service in the palm of our hands. Now we are able to sit inside our warm offices as we wait for our ride home.
3. Pay for Purchases
There is absolutely nothing better than running out to the store with only your keys and your phone in your hand. Apple Pay has made shopping hassle free and has all but eliminated the need for a wallet.
4. Find a date
I am not big on online dating, but for those who are, smartphones have become a reliable wingman. Apps like Plenty of Fish and Tinder have become a one stop shop for singles looking to meet someone special, and they can both be used without stepping a foot out of the door. I bet you never thought your phone could help you find a wedding date.
5. Travel the World
Apps like Periscope and Meerkat have made our world closer than it has ever been. I am now able to travel to the Pyramids of Egypt without buying a plane ticket. Nothing beats the real thing, but it is amazing that our phones are able to take us to such far away locations at a moments notice.
Many people consider gaming to be a dead hobby these days, but with millions of dollars coming into companies such as EA and Ubisoft, the gaming market is ripe for the plucking. We are decades past the days of Frogger and Pong yet Microsoft, a relatively young player in the gaming world, has managed to make this old hobby seem new again. While companies like Nintendo and Sony have kept true to their decade long sales model, Microsoft is in the midst of doing what former CEO Bill Gates never wanted done. The company has now begun blurring the lines between the PC and the video game console. With game streaming additions to Window 10, and web browsing available on gaming consoles, it looks as though Microsoft is tuning their gaming console into a home PC. Bill Gates feared the possibility that the gaming console would replace the home PC, but with the decline of new adoption for both gaming consoles and Windows PCs, this blurring of the lines seems to be the most viable option for the financial future of the company. The Xbox One is actually making me, a heavy Apple user, consider going back to a Windows PC, at least for my home desktop in order to partake in the integration. If Microsoft wants to compete with Apple, they must continue to embrace the change that is cross platform functionality, and dive fully into it. I don’t think PCs will ever lose popularity in the corporate sector, but when it comes to personal use, the Xbox One may be the PC world’s final stand against the impending threat of Android and iOS devices.
The age of television may be coming to an end in the very near future. There was once a time when television was the choice method for spreading a message, or for providing entertainment to millions, but now it has been completely supplanted by the Internet. The expanded availability of high speed internet has turned television into a thing of the past, and the rise of online streaming services is quickly killing the profits of cable and satellite television providers. I am sure that television will still be around for the next decade, but the idea of waiting for a show to air or holding a spot in your schedule for a certain program seems to be losing followers pretty quickly. In this day and age when many people have variable schedules, streaming services allow a level of flexibility that could never be be matched by today’s television networks. The benefits of streaming services far outweigh those of traditional television, aside from controlling when and what you watch, streaming services allow users to pay for what they want to see instead of paying for large tv packages to watch a single channel. Services like Netflix and Hulu are quickly becoming the norm for television viewing, and while these services don’t yet have the licenses to broadcast sporting events, I predict there will be an all sports service released in the near future. The advances in technology have made our world a much smaller and more accessible place, it is only natural that with these advancements, older technologies will fall by the wayside.
Today marks the launch day for the new iPhone 6s, and along with it has come a new revision of iOS. iOS 9 has been out for a week, and today Apple decided to release fixes for the issues users have been having while using the software with update 9.0.1. The most interesting feature Apple has introduced for the new iOS is the ability to block content on the Safari browser. With the content blockers, users are able to block ads, media, and pictures while surfing the web. These content blockers lead to a faster, less cluttered, and less intrusive use of the browser. I have been using content blockers on my computer for years, so I am extremely welcoming of their addition to my mobile platform, however I fear the effect it can have on the Internet and ad revenue for companies that rely on it. I have to admit, web ads are extremely annoying, and mobile ads have become incredibly intrusive, but now that we can block them, companies will have to find new ways to make the money they will be losing. I don’t want to sound like I am the baron of bad news, but mobile content blockers could signal the end of the Internet as we know it. Many websites are no longer offering a mobile version, as they would rather push their free, yet ad supported app onto consumers. With these apps, companies can continue to get their precious ad revenue, while bringing their content directly to the consumer with constant and somewhat annoying notifications. I am not exactly a fan of loading my phone up with apps that I would only use twice a week, and I detest the idea of an app overload my phone with notifications, so if this is going to be the trend for mobile web, I will likely be spending much less time on the Internet in the near future.
Communication has come a very long way over the past few centuries. What was once considered unimaginable is now the norm, and connections that many dreamed of are now being harnessed in the hands of infants. When Alexander Graham Bell and the other early telecommunication inventors thought up the telephone, they just wanted an effective way of relaying a spoken message, and now their work is part of a massive infrastructure that they would have never fathomed. There was once a time when the most effective way of communicating aside from interpersonal, was via carrier pigeon, and now we are able to easily link with people across the world with video messages. I once worked in the telecommunications industry so I am well aware of how quickly we can go from one huge advancement to another, and communication seems to be getting wider and more advanced than ever at an incredibly fast rate. The best way for me to illustrate the great advancements we have seen in the past few years is through my own experience. My parents have been out of the country for a little while, and thanks to the great advancements in telecommunications worldwide, I have been able to speak with them clearly, and at will. Recent advancements in cellular and digital communications have made talking to somebody who is 5200 miles and an ocean away seem as simple as calling a next door neighbor. We have definitely gone a long way since the first telephone, and there seems to be no stopping the rate of growth communication technology is seeing. At this point in time it would be ridiculous for me to speculate on what the future holds for communication, but with the speed of technological advancements, I would not be surprised to see my wildest dreams outdone by an unbelievable reality in the near future.
Video games have definitely advanced since my youth, what was once a tiny man running on a screen with the ability to jump at the press of a button, has evolved into massive worlds with realistic looking characters who can be controlled to do just about anything. If somebody would have told me that one day I would be able to look at a game and not be able to differentiate the real from the fake, I would have said they were insane, but today’s gaming systems have shown the full power these developers now harness. I decided to try out the Xbox One this weekend, since I was once a big time gaming fan and I never actually played this now two year old system. At first glance this system looks like gaming has taken a step back, it is massive, like old school VCR massive, and honestly just based on the weight of the system I think they could have trimmed 30% off of the size. Once the console is turned on and after the somewhat lengthy setup, it is clear that it is no machine of the past. The Xbox One has the capabilities that were dreamed of in the past, and the processing power to do even more than it currently does, I never thought a video game system would ever reach the versatility of a computer but Microsoft basically nailed it with this one. The functionality of the system is great, but as with any platform, they live or die with software. The games on the Xbox One are exactly as expected, mildly entertaining and generic gameplay wise, but graphically stellar. It is almost impossible for developers to create a truly entertaining experience these days when they are so enamored with making a visual masterpiece. I have to say the thing I miss most about video games is how creative and entertaining they once were, but perhaps I am just getting old. I have to give the Xbox One a great rating as an entertainment device, but if you are not a “gamer,” save your money, it just doesn’t seem to be a must own device for an individual merely searching for a living room media center.
There are a ridiculous amount of social media applications and platforms available today. I remember the days when all I had to worry about on the Internet was making sure I poked my friend back on Facebook, but now I am bothered by constant notifications and having to accepting new followers on Instagram and other networks. I love using social media to check up on my favorite businesses and read up on sporting news updates, but I have to say the advent of social media has made the world much less social. I know that this is old news, and that everybody has now become accustomed to the idea of seeing the faces of others others buried in their phones and tablets, but I actually have fond memories of a time before all of this existed. As a child I was somewhat shy and introverted, but I grew into a fairly outgoing adult with a mastery of the art of communication, only to find that I now live in a world where communication has changed. Social media conversation is very different from face to face conversation, because subtleties such as sarcasm and body language are completely non existent over the web. Social media has basically changed how communication is done, and in the process created a generation of socially awkward young adults. I have had situations in which I have run into social media friends in real life and they treated me like a stranger, the odd part is that I have known these individuals before social media and held extended online conversations with them. I honestly can’t say what the future holds for social media or even real life social interaction, but I do know that people need to get back to some sort of interpersonal interaction or the future will be a very strange place.