2014: Top 10 tech things we're looking forward to

Every year is an exciting year in technology - there are always so many new gadgets and gizmos on the horizon! While we love to be surprised by tech brands showing off their latest offerings, it's also fun to anticipate what's just around the corner, and what we can look forward to in the coming months. 

Here's our top-10 pick of stuff that we're already getting excited about for the year ahead. 


10. Samsung Galaxy S5

Samsung’s flagship may not be everyone’s cup of tea – and we’re not exactly big fans of the horrid plastics the company uses on its most expensive devices – but the Galaxy S4 is still a mighty fine handset, and we’re looking forward to seeing what the next version brings to the table.

Rumours about the S5 are swirling already and, frankly, many of the predictions being made seem more like wishful thinking than anything. Still, we’re hoping for less crappy plastic, a better display (many reports point to 2K resolution) and an improved camera. Whatever Samsung does with the S5, it’ll surely sell in the kind of numbers that most of its rivals can only dream of.

 

9. A bigger iPhone

Rumours of a ‘big-screen’ iPhone seem to pop up every couple of months, but recent chatter in the industry suggests that 2014 could be the year that Apple finally launches a handset with a larger display. Of course, the company hasn’t exactly been struggling to sell its 4-inch iPhones, but in the premium handset market, demand for bigger screens is increasing, as evidenced by the launch of devices like LG’s G2, the Nokia Lumia 1320 and 1520 and HTC’s One Max.

The gap between the 4-inch iPhones and the 7.9-inch iPad mini is starting to look pretty big, and as users consume more video content – whether from Netflix, BBC iPlayer or YouTube – on their phones, it’s only logical to assume that some of them will want to enjoy it on a larger screen. A bigger iPhone isn’t a certainty, but it seems to make sense, and it sure would be nice.

 

8. ‘Touch-first’ versions of Microsoft Office

Given Microsoft’s relentless focus on the touch capabilities of Windows 8, it’s strange that the company still doesn’t offer versions of its Office suite designed for touch interaction. Its current Office 2013 desktop applications do sport a touch-friendly mode, but all this really does is take the existing UI and make buttons a bit larger and easier to tap with a fat finger.

Thankfully, we’ll finally see the launch of ‘touch-first’ versions of core Office apps in 2014, redesigned from the ground up for finger-friendly interactions, with Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook all expected to get a ‘Modern’ overhaul. For those with Windows tablets, they can’t come soon enough. Microsoft has confirmed that a version is in the works for the iPad too, although that’s expected to arrive later.

 

7. Google Glass

There are few devices more divisive than Google’s headset, but whether you love it or hate it, 2014 will be the year that Glass launches to a wider audience. Many industry commentators are convinced that the new generation of wearable computing devices are much more than just a fad, but consumers are yet to be convinced.

Google certainly has a lot to prove with Glass. But while many remain sceptical, we’re eager to see what the company has in store for the device, particularly as it begins to ramp up its efforts to make wearable computing more mainstream. We’re also keen to see just what the company has planned for its floating ‘Google Barge’ showrooms, and whether they’ll be effective in winning over the hearts and minds of consumers.

 

6. Whatever Amazon does next

We’re not going to see Amazon drones delivering books and terrorising neighbourhood cats in 2014, but that doesn’t mean we’re not excited about what else the company may have in store. With its Kindle range, Amazon has demonstrated that fantastic devices don’t have to cost the earth, and through its Mayday feature – which offers face-to-face video chats with support staff to help inexperienced users get the most out of their Kindle HDX tablets – it has removed some of the uncertainty that may otherwise have put off less tech-savvy buyers from purchasing such a device.

Rumours persist that Amazon is preparing to launch a low-cost smartphone, while speculation has also been mounting of a new set-top box from the company, as the battle for living rooms continues to heat up. We can’t wait to see what cool stuff Amazon has in store for 2014 – although we would also like to see the company do a much better job of improving working conditions for its warehouse staff

 

5. Windows ‘Threshold’ update

With Windows 8.1, Microsoft succeeded in delivering a comprehensive update that addressed many of the criticisms that were levelled at its predecessor. But there is still plenty of room for improvement, and it sounds like the upcoming ‘Threshold’ update will resolve many more of the complaints that some still have about the OS.

The return of the Start menu, in some unspecified form, will finally silence those who still despise the Start screen, while those who aren’t entirely won over by the Modern UI may appreciate the ability to run new-style apps in windows on the classic Desktop. There’ll be important steps forward for developers too, as the company moves towards a single, unified app platform and store for all of its operating systems. It's not yet certain that Threshold will arrive in 2014 though - Microsoft-watcher Mary Jo Foley has it on good authority that it may not arrive until early 2015.

 

4. More competition in mobile

Most of us hate mobile networks. They’re money-grabbers who hike their prices mid-contract, offer pitiful data allowances, and charge extortionate amounts for using your phone abroad, right? Well, not all carriers are the same, and the last couple of years have shown that there’s plenty of room in the market for operators who dare to do things differently.

In the US, the best example of this is T-Mobile, the self-branded ‘Uncarrier’, which has delighted in mocking the old guard of AT&T and Verizon, doing away with lengthy contracts and allowing users to upgrade their handsets up to twice a year for an extra $10 a month. While Sprint lost hundreds of thousands of customers in a single quarter, T-Mobile gained over two million in six months. The UK’s Three network is another good example, introducing 4G at no extra cost to its customers - while rival networks charge hefty premiums for 4G services - and continuing to offer unlimited data plans, as well as introducing free inclusive international roaming to many countries.

Customers reward initiatives like these with their patronage, proving that competition is a good thing. We hope that there’ll be plenty more of this, and in many more countries, over the next twelve months and beyond.

 

3. Microsoft Surface ‘Mini’

It’s been rumoured for some time, but Microsoft’s small tablet looks set to finally arrive in 2014. The second generation of Surface tablets are hugely impressive, so we’re especially keen to see what the company has in store for the new baby of the family.

Running Windows RT, expect the ARM-based slate to offer impressive battery life – especially important for a device that’s focused on reading content, browsing the web and watching video. The weight and price of the tablet will be the key factors that determine its success – or lack thereof – in the market. Die-hard Microsoft fans will likely be falling over themselves to buy it, but the company will need to establish much broader appeal for it, as it continues to align itself around its ‘devices and services’ strategy.

 

2. Cheaper devices than ever

Many users in more developed markets mock lower-end devices, but the likes of Google’s Nexus 7 and the Nokia Lumia 520 convincingly demonstrate that you don’t have to pay a fortune to enjoy an excellent user experience. As prices continue to fall, more and more users will be able to afford devices, and this is especially important in developing markets, where many can only dream of being able to purchase the flagships that sit in the pockets and bags of users elsewhere.

The Indian government has promised that it will sell a tablet to its citizens for just 1,500 INR (around $24) in 2014. Tablets like these won’t win awards for performance, but they smash through the cost barriers that would otherwise prevent low-income users from being able to get online and share in the knowledge and entertainment of the web, and that’s pretty awesome.

 

1. Windows Phone 8.1

Microsoft has deployed two updates to Windows Phone 8, with a third now starting to roll out to devices across the globe. But the majority of ‘ordinary’ users – i.e. those who don’t obsess over tech and gadgets as much we do – would probably struggle to spot many of the incremental improvements that the OS has seen over the last twelve months.

Windows Phone 8.1 will be the first major update to the OS since its launch, and all indications point to it offering the kind of across-the-board improvements that the company delivered with its Windows 8.1 update for tablets and PCs. From the long-awaited notification centre to the new ‘Cortana’ voice-controlled digital assistant, the update is expected to deliver a broad range of truly compelling features, while the new ‘enterprise feature pack’ will finally bring much-needed additional OS support for businesses.

We can’t wait.


What are you looking forward to most in 2014? Do you think we missed something important from our Top 10 list? Or is there anything in our list that you think doesn’t belong there? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below!
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Image credits: Samsung Galaxy S5 concept via Gizbot; iPhone concept via GottaBeMobile; Office 2013 image via FutureZone; Google Glass via ExtremeTech.com; Amazon/Jeff Bezos via CNET; T-Mobile via TechnoBuffalo; India tablet via Gizbot.

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Would wish to add 2 more:

CES 2014, Jan: OEM win8.1 with Android tile(s).
Build 2014, Apr: Release win8.1 Spring GDR

As for so-called win8.2? LOL, there never was and there will never be.

Hello,

IMO, there are much more intresting things to come in 2014. One of those is better (cheaper) OLED tech, 3D printers I have a feeling will start booming a bit more, more intergration with devices/household items, etc.

"Whatever Amazon does next"? Noone really cares about Amazon except buying from its online store. Amazon should try to buy out companies such as Newegg. Thats their market.

A bigger iPhone would be nice. Look forward to the next Nexus lineup over Samsung's plastic and software bloated phones.

9. A bigger iPhone

They won't go as big as most hope, and here's why:

Some recent smartphone research shows that as screen size increases, app purchases decrease. Apps are the linch pin to Apple's model.

A few things:

1. The Galaxy S5 is extraordinarily durable & feature packed phone. I think it may have the most features of all smart phones in the market today.

2. I don't think anyone really cares to spend money on "Threshold." With the success of the Chromebook and Android in the market, Microsoft better make Threshold very very cheap or give it away free.

3. T-Mobile is making themselves an exciting company, no doubt. I happen to own phones that are in use for both T-Mobile & Verizon Wireless with two Androids and one Windows Phone. Without question, T-Mobile is not even close to the reliability and quality of VZW's overall service and coverage in terms of phone and data. LOL...NOT even close. In other words, VZW may be pricier that's because it's coverage quality is the best. As for T-Mobile, it's sub-decent , and I am living in NYC area. When it becomes decent, then I can wholeheartedly recommend T-Mobile to my friends and colleagues. As of now, VZW is still the best of the class.

4. Microsoft mini is going to do nothing for Microsoft, unless it comes in a price range of $149-$199. (see #6)

5. As for Windows Phone 8.1.....nobody cares and neither do I. It's a nice phone, but it's nothing special. I know, because I own the Lumia 521. It's not Nokia's fault...it's Microsoft's. The ecosystem is just sub-par compared to all the rest. The works stuff is as good as Google's and even Apple's, but the entertainment side is horrid. All in all, it's a plain and ordinary phone with limited uses because there are hardly any good mainstream apps. Plus according to Paul Thurrott, updates for certain Apps are very slow and understandably so, because it only has 4% of the marketshare. (see #6)

6) 2013 was a bad year for Microsoft. They're device marketshare is ridiculously low. Google's online/offline Office Suite reached 13% marketshare. Windows is no longer the dominating OS and despite all the paid negative "Scroogled" ads by Microsoft, Chromebooks was a huge success. Microsoft will continue to spiral downwards unless it does one thing.......LOWER their prices. While Microsoft is spending their time and money telling people that Microsoft is their best friend and everyone else is dangerous, Google is invading the living room, buying Robot Companies, and developing thermostat solutions. All of this happening in front of Microsoft, who in turn is trying to tell people that they need Office.

VictorWho said,

2. I don't think anyone really cares to spend money on "Threshold." With the success of the Chromebook and Android in the market.

Nobody cares about Chromebook for that matter.

VictorWho said,
....

Microsoft have consistently lowered prices for the last decade. While it may not seem like it to you, the enterprise Microsoft stack is now affordable to more than the Fortune 500.

VictorWho said,
A few things:

1. The Galaxy S5 is extraordinarily durable & feature packed phone. I think it may have the most features of all smart phones in the market today.

2. I don't think anyone really cares to spend money on "Threshold." With the success of the Chromebook and Android in the market, Microsoft better make Threshold very very cheap or give it away free.

3. T-Mobile is making themselves an exciting company, no doubt. I happen to own phones that are in use for both T-Mobile & Verizon Wireless with two Androids and one Windows Phone. Without question, T-Mobile is not even close to the reliability and quality of VZW's overall service and coverage in terms of phone and data. LOL...NOT even close. In other words, VZW may be pricier that's because it's coverage quality is the best. As for T-Mobile, it's sub-decent , and I am living in NYC area. When it becomes decent, then I can wholeheartedly recommend T-Mobile to my friends and colleagues. As of now, VZW is still the best of the class.

4. Microsoft mini is going to do nothing for Microsoft, unless it comes in a price range of $149-$199. (see #6)

5. As for Windows Phone 8.1.....nobody cares and neither do I. It's a nice phone, but it's nothing special. I know, because I own the Lumia 521. It's not Nokia's fault...it's Microsoft's. The ecosystem is just sub-par compared to all the rest. The works stuff is as good as Google's and even Apple's, but the entertainment side is horrid. All in all, it's a plain and ordinary phone with limited uses because there are hardly any good mainstream apps. Plus according to Paul Thurrott, updates for certain Apps are very slow and understandably so, because it only has 4% of the marketshare. (see #6)

6) 2013 was a bad year for Microsoft. They're device marketshare is ridiculously low. Google's online/offline Office Suite reached 13% marketshare. Windows is no longer the dominating OS and despite all the paid negative "Scroogled" ads by Microsoft, Chromebooks was a huge success. Microsoft will continue to spiral downwards unless it does one thing.......LOWER their prices. While Microsoft is spending their time and money telling people that Microsoft is their best friend and everyone else is dangerous, Google is invading the living room, buying Robot Companies, and developing thermostat solutions. All of this happening in front of Microsoft, who in turn is trying to tell people that they need Office.

Greetings from China - you know, the place where many of your jobs and most of your money goes. The place where all he people live. The world's biggest market. Etc,

Who is this Google you talk about and WTF is a Chromebook?

Device wise, the list is simple:

1) Lumia 1020 successor maybe with an upgrade to snapdragon 800 and external SD card slot for the ultimate raw shooting camera phone.

2) surface and surface pro 3. more power, more ports, maybe even a 12-13 inch model.

3) the alleged surface phone.

Software wise:

1) win 8.2, threshold or whatever it is.
2) cortana and related google now/siri competitor.
3) xbox one app project in visual studio and related app store.
4) platform convergence of RT and WP with xbox OS and win 8. Probably we'll get some details at buid and when 8.2 ships.

overhyped items I'm sure will be a disappointment:
1) office for android/ipad/windows 8 touch. these will be light versions which will lack the power of a desktop app. they can't after all fix the problems with primitive OS systems like android/iOS which weren't built for productivity and desktop multi-tasking.

2) google glass. It will go the way of the smart watch from Samsung.

3) steam box. prepare for another video from sony about how the steam box DRM is evil and a PR campaign to match at E3 as MSFT and Sony feed red meat to all the console gamers that want to keep the used game model going and which the steam box tries to do away with. It will be fun to watch.

4) another smart watch from Samsung.

I would def. buy either no. 1 or 3. what ever's the best. smaller surface with windows 8 pro and newest atom processor for great battery life would be awesome too.

neonspark said,

1) Lumia 1020 successor maybe with an upgrade to snapdragon 800 and external SD card slot for the ultimate raw shooting camera phone.

ohhh yes.

Mr. Hand said,
I'm not looking forward to any of those as they're just more of the same except Google Glass which is just plain dumb.

Google Glass is certainly not "just plain dumb". It's extraordinarily dumb. They went out of their way to invent a new level of dumbness on this one.

I'm more a hardware guy so for me it's the new AMD Kaveri A10-7800 series APU, Nvidia Maxwell GPU's and motherboards with SATA-Express (SATAe) for SSD drives.

2014, single digits iPhone market share.

google anti trust woes escalate.

windows becomes free for consumers.

the year of the Linux desktop.

Hello,

neonspark said,

the year of the Linux desktop.

For desktop, this is never. The year of Linux was when Android overtook iOS.

neonspark said,
the year of the Linux desktop.

What? Again?

Then again with the desktop rapidly becoming obsolete, maybe Linux will finally break through the 1% barrier.

I don't know about that. There's a guy on a Transformers forum I'm on who sells home-printed upgrade parts for figures. A little rough-textured compared to the official product, but very functional and very durable. He has a nice little business going with his 3D printer.

I see the point your making but remember, Tablets etc are dumming down gadgets. Companies are not interested in what happens after you have bought one, lets face it, you cannot upgrade, you have to buy a new one, Hence, profit. They may say there for the environment, but when push comes to shove, profit matters more.

NinjaGinger said,
I see the point your making but remember, Tablets etc are dumming down gadgets. Companies are not interested in what happens after you have bought one, lets face it, you cannot upgrade, you have to buy a new one, Hence, profit. They may say there for the environment, but when push comes to shove, profit matters more.

What? Who in their right mind would try and upgrade tablet hardware?

I am definitely not looking forward to cheap devices. In fact, I want them to be as expensive as possible. As already noted, they aren't that good to begin with, but then they age too damn fast and just become millions of metric tons of plastic garbage and toxic waste, the worst kind of pollution.

Phouchg said,
I am definitely not looking forward to cheap devices. In fact, I want them to be as expensive as possible. As already noted, they aren't that good to begin with, but then they age too damn fast and just become millions of metric tons of plastic garbage and toxic waste, the worst kind of pollution.
A lot of Nokia Lumia 520 owners will disagree with you.

Yup, hoping that Threshold can make Windows tablets more innovative and competitive against iPad and Android. Sure they are already 10x better in many people's eyes and it's mostly apps holding them back, but touch Office, OS improvements to make things more integrated and more OEMs building thinner, lighter, faster and better devices will hopefully make the tablet market a more interesting place. It's time Windows re-claimed it's crown and stopped these young pretenders with their dumbed down OS's from stealing the limelight. Right now no device is quite good enough for me, but hoping we see something more streamlined once we get the next OS update from MS.

TheShark said,
Yup, hoping that Threshold can make Windows tablets more innovative and competitive against iPad and Android. Sure they are already 10x better in many people's eyes and it's mostly apps holding them back, but touch Office, OS improvements to make things more integrated and more OEMs building thinner, lighter, faster and better devices will hopefully make the tablet market a more interesting place. It's time Windows re-claimed it's crown and stopped these young pretenders with their dumbed down OS's from stealing the limelight. Right now no device is quite good enough for me, but hoping we see something more streamlined once we get the next OS update from MS.

Surface and Windows 8.1 are in fact 10 times better than any competing product for any logical thinking person. Apps are a non issue, this is just people picking on it since it has become a trend to do so. Apps where created to duplicate functionality of what a desktop OS does not the other way around. Touch functionality is nice in office but it won't make you as productive as anyone can be on the desktop.

I thought of you when I read this:
"The return of the Start menu, in some unspecified form, will finally silence those who still despise the Start screen,"
"The return of the Start menu, in some unspecified form, will finally silence those who still despise the Start screen,"
"The return of the Start menu, in some unspecified form, will finally silence those who still despise the Start screen,"

Can't say any of that stuff really excites me tbh. I wonder what the next innovation will be for smart devices because the curved phones just feels a bit gimmicky and smart watches didn't take off.

Why do people care so much about slightly updated versions of phones and tablets? There are much more impressive things to look forward to;

OLED TVs entering the mainstream.

Nvidia Gsync

Occulus Rift

Chromecast like devices

"A slightly bigger iphone." - why would you look forward to that?

Haven't you noticed? If anything, very few folks like pushing the envelope - whenever a company tries (it's not just Microsoft, or even Windows - how much of a whacking has iOS 7 taken?), there is a large, if not massive, amount of pushback. Despite the proverb "Fortune favors the bold." - when it comes to technology sales, favor favors the chicken.

Wakers said,
Why do people care so much about slightly updated versions of phones and tablets? There are much more impressive things to look forward to;

OLED TVs entering the mainstream.

Nvidia Gsync

Occulus Rift

Chromecast like devices

"A slightly bigger iphone." - why would you look forward to that?

You make a good point. Particularly in the PC space there's a lot of stuff coming up that shows a lot of promise.

Like you mention, Occulus Rift and G-Sync are potentially going to make big waves depending on pricing. Then there's Mantle that makes a lot of big promises in terms of graphics capabilities. Steam boxes are due next year too. DDR4 RAM is inbound too.

Hello,

Wakers said,
Why do people care so much about slightly updated versions of phones and tablets? There are much more impressive things to look forward to;

OLED TVs entering the mainstream.

Nvidia Gsync

Occulus Rift

Chromecast like devices

"A slightly bigger iphone." - why would you look forward to that?


Great comment

Wakers said,

Nvidia Gsync

NO. Proprietary monitor stuff that just enables an advanced version of Vsync? Not appealing at all.
Wakers said,

Occulus Rift

YES
Wakers said,

Chromecast like devices

YES but I'm not holding my breath. Instead, I think we might see improvements in DLNA Play To devices, WiDi, and Miracast.

Edited by FalseAgent, Dec 31 2013, 11:16am :

Gsync is far more than advanced Vsync. It basically makes any mid-range GPU twice as valuable - as long as it can run a game over 40FPS, gameplay is unbelievably smooth. It's amazing.

I hope Microsoft will manage to release their first phone in the coming year, using resources from its recent Nokia acquisition.

Steven P. said,
Too much of a speculation to actually expect it next year
I doubt that we won't see any new Lumia device next year, and since Nokia will be part of Microsoft by then, it will be a Microsoft device.

Steven P. said,
At best we'll see a bit of rebranding (Microsoft Lumia?), but it's a bit of a stretch to expect a "Surface Phone" at this point.

We'll just have to wait for more rumors to Surface.