Tech touch-points 2015

28th December 2014
Tech touch-points 2015
Technologies that will touch you in 2015 (clockwise from top left): Windows 10; USB 3.0; Mobile high definition through MHL; Contactless hotel entry through Bluetooth; Android Lollipop and Tap-n-Pay using NFC.

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.
Windows 10
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.