A new year means a new generation of tech. Just this past year we’ve seen some major strides in numerous fields, not the least of which being wearable technology. With the arrival of the highly anticipated Apple Watch, as well as numerous improvements and adjustments to existing smart-watches such as the Pebble and Fitbit flex series, more people than ever are integrating wearable tech into their day-to-day lives.
So what sort of trends and developments are we excited to see in 2016?
Wearables Will Continue To Rise
With nearly 40 million adults 18 and over using wearables in the U.S. this year, and increase of ~58% over last year, there’s no indication that wearable tech is going anywhere. What will drive wearable tech this year, however, is a different conversation.
Apple Watch: Many expect a 2nd generation Apple Watch to arrive in 2016, and with it perhaps more independence from the iPhone. A device with the performance and capability of the Apple Watch without the current limitations could have major implications in bringing over a lot of undecided users. As it stands the watch has mainly ensnared early adopters and major fans of the Apple brand, but a common objection is the desire to wait for “the next generation”. If it does indeed land in 2016, expect a significant jump in Apple Watch sales.
Fitbit: The “king” of activity trackers, Fitbit has enjoyed some stunning success in the last year. More specifically, in the last couple of weeks leading up to Christmas the reasonably priced gadget flew off the shelves, resulting in the Fitbit app to be the #1 free app on the App Store on Christmas day, and prompting a jump in the stock price. In 2016, expect to see Fitbit distinguish itself as a superior activity tracker. While it can’t compete with all of the functionality that an Apple Watch or Samsung Gear or Pebble may offer, being the best at monitoring calorie burn, heart rate, etc can help them capitalize on the vast “New Year, New You” campaign and countless resolutions to live healthier and workout more.
Pebble: With Pebble, the indie watch developer has just unveiled its first generation of the Pebble Round, which is dramatically different from previous iterations, both aesthetically and functionally. 2016 will likely see a new generation of this model, and with a better performing, more affordable, and round watch (unlike the Apple Watch, which is often criticized for its unconventional square shape), it is likely to appeal to those interested in acquiring wearable tech this year.
Between these three contenders, Samsung and others who will likely be entering the field, it’s no surprise that the use of wearables will see some significant increases in the coming years.
We’ll See New Phones – But It Will Be All About The Battery Life
Another year, another round of phone upgrades. “Smartphones” have been around since the start of the 21st century, but mass-marketed smartphones have been around for nearly 9 years now, and as my friend Kirk pointed out in his recent article, I think that consumers are starting to get bored with the constant cycle of the “latest and greatest”. We love all of the convenience our smartphones provide for us, but we’re running out of things on our wish-list, except for one glaring flaw: battery life. Android, iOS, Windows phones…across the board battery life is the single biggest opportunity that these companies have. Sure we might see some changes in the display materials and technology, NFC will become more standardized, processors and RAM will be upgraded and improved…but don’t be surprised if these companies really emphasize development on better battery technology. If not in base usage, perhaps an expedited charging platform.
Computers – Infinite Cosmic Power, Itty Bitty Footprint
This year we saw the arrival of some of the smallest, yet most powerful laptops ever. The Dell XPS 13 and the Macbook both featured 12″ edge-to-edge displays with stunning resolution, 8 GB RAM standard and while lacking in processing power, still manages to provide amazing performance for the tasks many users do every day: browsing the web, email, documents, light photo editing, etc. In the coming year, don’t be surprised if you see companies push the envelope even further with the new Intel chips and improved battery technology.
Apple Pay, Google Wallet And The Digitization Of Money
Finally, I think something really important that will really catch fire in 2016 is the use of more NFC terminals and digital wallet services/technology. Apple Pay is already making some serious strides in normalizing the use of digital wallets, and as more consumers become familiar and comfortable with the concept, we might see google wallet and similar services enjoy more support and usage as well. By the end of the year, expect to see the list of vendors that support Apple Pay and other services to grow significantly.
That’s about it! If you have any thoughts on the direction that tech is heading in 2016, feel free to share in the comments!