Six technologies look set to touch us in the new year. Here's when and how.
By Anand Parthasarathy
Bangalore, December 29 2014: Between the hype and the happening, in the tech world today, there is a huge chasm. Which is why, lay users are understandably confused when they spend their hard-earned money on a new smart phone, tablet other personal gadget. Are they getting the latest version of the operating software or as media guru Marshal McLuhan famously said, will it be obsolete even before it works?
We did a reality check of recent infotech announcements and this is our take on the six big technologies that should touch you in 2015. Some of them are just new versions of old standards or versions -- all the more reason to be alert so that you are not landed with something in the tail-end of its life.
If you were intimidated by the tile-like appearance of Windows 8 and the disappearance of the familiar startup menu -- and decided to stick with Windows 7, your instincts were dead right. Microsoft has got the message and in the next version of Windows which it has named Windows 10 ( skipping 9) it has restored the familiar Win 7 style and shrunk the tiles menu to a corner of the screen.
Windows 10 is now in a 'Technical preview' phase means Microsoft is ironing out the kinks. PCs, tablets and laptops bought after mid 2015 should come with Windows 10 -- so if you buy before that, make sure you are entitled to an upgrade to Win 10 without paying all over again.
Android 5.0 (aka Lollipop)
Google is notoriously messy when it comes to Android upgrades. Lollipop has been around since October -- but who has seen it, except owners of Google designed Nexus devices? A few phone makers, have received the upgrade which they plan on releasing with their 2015 mobile devices most probably at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next month. Lollipop is designed to work even on entry-level devices, with just 512 MB of memory a feature aimed at huge phone markets like India and China. A key feature is the ability to switch between different user profiles on the same phone.... a cool way for parents to let their kids use their phones without letting them read their SMS messages. An incoming call will no longer interrupt your game but will merely pop up as a notification. If you buy a phone or tablet with Kitkat, ensure there is a way to upgrade to Lollipop in 2015.
If you buy a USB memory stick or an external hard drive any time now, pay a little extra to get one that has USB 3.0 connectivity. This is a major version of Universal Serial Bus standard for computer connectivity. It adds a new mode called "SuperSpeed", capable of transferring data at up to 5 Gigabit/sec which is ten times faster than USSB 2.0. You can identify USB 3.0 hardware by the blue color of the ports or the SS initials on the plugs.
The problem is both ends of a USB to USB connection need to be USB 3.0 to get the speed advantage. If you connect a USB 3.0 external hard disk to your existing laptop or desktop PC with a USB 2.0 port, the speed drops down to the old level
The Mobile High-Definition Link is an industry standard for a mobile audio/video interface that allows consumers to connect mobile phones, tablets, and other portable devices to high-definition TVs and audio receivers. The MHL 3.0 standard supports up to 4K (Ultra HD) high-definition (HD) video and 7.1 surround-sound audio. If you own a phone that is capable of shooting video in 4K or UHD, it is worth investing in a special MHL cable that will plug into the HDMI port of your TV and allow you to enjoy the '2nd screen' advantage.
Bluetooth Smart/ 4.2
Bluetooth announced a new revision -- version 4.2 -- on December 2 which also embraces the mobile-device friendly, low power Bluetooth Smart standard that most new phones and tablets have adopted. The biggest change is the enhanced security: preventing Bluetooth beacons from pairing with phones, without the user’s permission. It makes it difficult for eavesdroppers to track a device through its Bluetooth connection. It is also 2.5 times faster than previous versions. You can expect to use your Bluetooth Smart enabled phones in 2015 in many new situations -- to replace key cards to open hotel rooms or central locking devices to open your car.
Near Field Communications, is a contactless, Wi-Fi-style technology on many phones that can transfer small amounts of data between two devices held a few centimeters apart. By tapping your NFC phone on a payment terminal in a shop or at a railway station, you can make a payment through an app on your phone, much like a credit card swipe.Most new smart phones after mid 2015 should come with NFC... but payment apps may take some more time to reach India. Ensuring your new phone is NFC ready will future-proof your purchase.|
Armed with these 6 technologies, you will be ready to enjoy all that phone or tablet can offer in 2015.