January 2015

Tech Trends for 2015

It’s a few weeks into 2015, and some amazing things have already started to happen the technology sphere. The Detroit auto show unveiled some of the coolest new cars and concepts. Supercars such as the Acura NSX and Ford GT are faster than ever before. Electric and hybrid models were present as well, as many auto companies seek to improve their standing with customers and offer “green” options. CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2015 also introduced the biggest and brightest upcoming technical innovations. Realistic robots, new TV models and loads of wearable tech were showcased in Vegas to give the nation a glimpse of what the industry has in store. In this post, I’ll do my best to summarize what I think the top trends for 2015 might be.

Wearables

Continuing from 2014, wearables will continue to dominate the tech market. Especially with Apple’s new smart watch premiering later this year; their market influence will surely have an impact on wearable sales. And with new sensor technology that will be able to more accurately read and collect data, people may be willing to spend the money in order to obtain quality data.

Internet of Things

With more devices flooding the market, from watches to cars to home automation, I think in 2015 we can expect to see more and more of our devices connected and talking to each other. It’s all in the name of being able to see and control all the data we have wherever we are. We want to be able to monitor our homes when we drive off to work or catch our email on our wrists. The internet of things offers a more streamlined future for the enormous amount of tech we have. Expect more companies to talk to each other and open up cross platform/device communications.

Virtual Reality

Will 2015 finally be the year of virtual reality? I hope so. Oculus Rift has been teasing us with its virtual reality headset for years, but it seems like 2015 could be the year where it finally hits the market. Other companies are also in the virtual reality game, such as Samsung, and are poised to splash into the market as well. Developers have had enough time to create some amazing simulations, and consumers are ready to give VR a try.

Better Voice Integration

Sure we have Siri, Cortana and Google Voice. Our phones have some limited voice integration, but I think the rest of the tech world will soon aim to include voice activation in their products. For example, there are rumors that Microsoft’s new Windows 10 operating system will include Cortana (Microsoft’s digital assistant) built into the platform. Talking to our laptops, cars and maybe even our wrists could soon be commonplace.

Cybersecurity

Perhaps not for the reason we want, cybersecurity will continue to be a big issue in 2015. With the hacks in 2014, the tech world needs to invest more into its security efforts. It’s not just an issue of personal security, but national security as well. If you have experience in cybersecurity, expect a ton of job openings, because no one wants a repeat of the North Korea Hacks.

These are just a few examples of possible tech trends in 2015. These may come into fruition, or may not. 2015 could be the year of awesome tech, but it could easily just end up being a year of half-baked ideas. We’ll have to wait and see.

Six tech resolutions for 2015

We’re one week into 2015, and even if you’re sworn off resolutions (or have already broken a few you’ve made), there are six resolutions that you really ought to make and keep.  We’re not talking about diet, exercise, or finances (though those are good too), but resolutions to keep you on top of our ever-growing digital world.

1.  Clean your gadgets. Ever looked behind your computer at the growing dust bunny colony? Yup, me too. Time to get rid of the dust and grime which can cause your computer to overheat and can slow down performance. Don’t forget to shake out your keyboard and wipe off your mouse too!  And wipe off your smartphone – scientific studies show that the average smartphone contains more than twice as many germs as a public toilet seat.

2. Back up all your devices. This includes your computer, your phone, etc. Simple rule – if you have it, back it up! There are many options for computer backup including internal, external, network drives, online services, thumb drives, and more. Check out this comprehensive list from Consumer Reports:  http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/computer-backup-systems/buying-guide.htm .   Pick one, back up your data, and protect yourself from possible loss due to a computer crash.

Your smartphone should have a cloud-based backup system (such as Google Drive for Android or iCloud).  Make sure you’ve turned the app on and that it’s working.

3. Change your passwords. We’ve written about this before (http://www.webdesignsbylao.com/wordpress/internet-safety/) but it bears repeating.  With so much of our personal and work life going digital, password security is more important than ever. The key to online safety is making sure that all of your online accounts are protected by a unique, strong password. Having an account compromised is bad enough but if the stolen password is used on all your other accounts, the problems multiply.  Unbelievably, the most commonly hacked password is still “password.”  Change them … now.  And consider using a password manager.

4. Delete your old accounts, apps and programs. Which accounts (social media and other online accounts) are you still using? When was the last time you used Blogster or MySpace? If you’re not using them, delete them! If you are like the majority of us, your smartphone and tablet are full of apps and games that you no longer use or need. Take a few minutes and erase the one’s you don’t need and free up space for the latest apps.

5. Protect your computer (and smartphone) with antivirus software. No computer system is immune from malware, viruses and trojans. Reduce your risk with a good antivirus program.  There are several decent free programs that should be adequate for the average user.  Consider Microsoft Security Essentials, Bitdefender or AVG Essentials, at a minimum.

6. Don’t use any browser released before 2013. Yes, I’m specifically looking at those of you still using Explorer 8 (released in 2009), Explorer 9 (released in 2011), and Explorer 10 (released in 2012). This is as much about your web experience as anything else. If you’re not using a modern browser, you might be missing out on something good. Outdated browsers will attempt to load pages, but might not render them as the creator intended. And forget support for any problems you might run into.

So that’s our list for 2015 technology resolutions.  Any others you can think of?