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2016 - The Year in Tech: A Look Back at 2015 and The Year Ahead

Coastal Computer - Thursday, February 18, 2016

2016 is upon us and there’s lots of exciting trends in technology to keep an eye on in the year ahead. Of course, nothing in technology happens overnight, even when it seems like all-of-a-sudden everyone is on Instagram. As we look forward to 2016 The Year in Tech, we’ll also take a look back at what happened in 2015 to lead to this year’s developments.

Keep Watching the Apple Watch

While initial acceptance of the Apple Watch was not as hot as some might have guessed, it wasn't entirely cold either. The release of watchOS 2, the operating system for the Apple Watch, resolved many bugs and improved the overall experience. We expect that the release of Watch 2 with refined and improved hardware, and perhaps better battery life will encourage more people to look out for a Watch at their local Apple store or online.

For now, the price point and the requirement of having an iPhone will continue to limit sales. However, in 2016, the wearable technology market and the Apple Watch should both see continued growth.

Watch the growth metrics on Biometrics

Biometrics...huh? Biometrics refers to any measurement of human characteristics. The Apple Watch and fitness trackers like the FitBit measure your heart rate, thanks to a biometric sensor. Another type of biometric sensor is a fingerprint reader. With the expansion of Apple Pay in 2015, we’ll expect to see more uses of biometrics for payments and identity verification. We’ll also see more sensors integrated into devices and new apps including continued growth in the health and wellness uses of technology.

Internet of Things

This is one of the holdovers from 2015. 2015 was supposed to be the year of the IoT or Internet of Things, lots of small devices everywhere, all connected to the Internet. While some early adopters are jumping the curve, most people don’t have a smart refrigerator yet. However, a quick look at your local big box store mailer will show you that more and more appliances are featuring smart technologies that connect to the Internet.

We expect the trend to continue in 2016. Don’t be surprised when your neighbor shows you his fridge that emails him alerts. Or, think that he had to take a second mortgage to get it! With more and more integrations with appliances and devices, the cost will get lower and we’ll begin to see connected appliances across the product range, not only in high-end models.

Windows 10 and Microsoft

Microsoft has been quietly and not-so-quietly making changes over the past few years. They purchased the phone division of Nokia and they skipped right past Windows 9 with their Windows 10 release.

Windows 10 continues to confound some users, and we’re keeping a close eye to how many people truly adopt the operating system. While Microsoft has claimed Windows 10 is now active on 200 million devices, we’ve heard similar claims from Google regarding Android before. We’re waiting to see what happens with Windows 10.

For Microsoft as a whole, they’ve got a brighter outlook in 2016 compared to 2015, whether or not you include Windows 10 in the picture. They operated like a much more nimble company in 2015 and we’ve been happy with the continual improvements to their Office365 and Azure cloud platforms.

Surface and iPad

The Surface Pro is now emerging as a competitor to the iPad, particularly in the business space. Packing the same power as a laptop, the latest Surface tablets offer many of the same features at a lighter weight.

While the iPad continues to dominate in the consumer tablet space, more business users are looking to the Surface as their main form of mobile computing and choosing to go with a new Surface over a new laptop.

Apple took notice of the increasing sales of the Surface and released the iPad Pro in 2015. When Apple is offering products in a reactionary way instead of leading the introduction of new technologies, it’s clear that they have taken a different stance as a market leader.

The adoption of the Surface may encourage PC manufacturers to put more effort into their tablets, ultraportables and ultrabooks. In short, laptops are getting thinner and lighter and tablets are getting more powerful with more features. All of this is good. While it can be a bit overwhelming, there’s nearly something for everyone’s needs in the marketplace.

Looking Ahead

With Apple operating differently as a market leader and Google’s reorganization into Alphabet, Inc. and a set of subsidiaries, it’s unclear where the next innovation will come from. Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are all working with interesting technologies like driverless cars and virtual reality, which we’ll explore in future posts. Amazon continues to be a powerful force in technology with their Amazon Web Services platform also.

Who knows? The next big innovation could come from another startup that no one has heard of yet. Case in point, the featured image for this article is from a company ELEKS Labs, that built an Apple Watch app which allows people to monitor and control their Tesla electric car! Wherever the next innovation comes from, 2016 appears to be an exciting year in tech where many long-term trends will become more clear.