As we look ahead to another year in tech, we pick 13 game-changing launches, trends, gadgets and more that will define the next twelve months
2012: The year that will be remembered for the iPhone 5 finally landing along with its closest smartphone rival the Samsung Galaxy S3, while in the world of tablets Apple responded to the success of the 7-inch Android-powered Nexus 7 tablet with the iPad Mini. We shouldn't also forget about official launches for Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, Nintendo's next generation console offering the Wii U and then there was plenty of courtroom action as the major tech players fought it out over patents.
2013 promises to be equally as eventful so to prepare you for a raft of new cutting-edge kit and headline-grabbing stories, we've picked out 13 ways tech will rule in the coming year.
Xbox 720 vs Sony PS4
The grapevine whispers are gathering volume: E3 in June will give us a look at the “Xbox 720”, as we’re hoping they don’t call it, possibly with an Xmas release to follow. Will Sony get its PS4 retaliation in first, though?
Ouya becomes reality
With 63,417 Kickstarter funders, the open-source, Android-based games console has £5.4 million to play with. Launching in March, it’ll cost just £63, and all games will be free to try. Ouya might just do for indie games devs in the home market what app stores did for them on mobile…
Robot refs rise up
Ref! Over the line! Not one but two systems – GoalRef and HawkEye – were approved by FIFA in 2012 and are already used in Japan. They’re due to end Premier League goal-line controversy in time for the 2013-14 season, giving Alan Shearer and Hansen one less thing to bleat about on Saturday nights…
You will drive the future
Smart Cars will make way for really smart cars as apps break into all of our cars, handling everything from locking to mapping to pimping dashboard instruments via mobile connectivity.
4K will be the new 3D
TV manufacturers have struggled to get people excited about 3D. Will 4K, with a resolution four times greater than 1080p, generate more buzz? With prices still at the “For early-adopting oligarchs only” level, maybe not. But give it a place in the PS4’s spec list – Sony is the prime mover behind 4K and has already helped break CD, DVD and Blu-ray formats via its consoles – and that’ll change. We can’t wait.
Cloud goes heavyweight
iCloud, Dropbox, SkyDrive and Google Drive will take on more and more Petabytes of peoples’ data. Expect media horror stories aplenty about lost data, security breaches and, probably, cloud storage causing cancer.
Kindle phone launches
It already rules the ebook and online retail markets and has been quietly increasing the number of own-brand goods it sells. Could Amazon’s next money-generating machine be a cheap, high-performance smartphone that’s permanently plumbed into all its e-stores? The success of its Fire tablets makes this much-repeated rumour seem like a nailed-on certainty in 2013.
Don’t laugh; the veteran social network’s redesign is beautiful, and users are beginning to tire of Facebook.
Seven-inch tabs take over
With Apple having had a Road to Damascus moment; embracing a smaller tab size, seven-incher sales will overtake their big bros’ in 2013. The rumoured Xbox Surface tablet should be a seven-inch – it’s the Goldilocks size when it comes to gaming – and would bring Arcade gaming, Xbox Music, and the kick-ass Xbox SmartGlass app to the shrunken table.
4G is available for all
Once the LTE spectrum is divvied up early in 2013, Vodafone, O2 and Three UK will be busting a gut to get their next-gen services up and running. Both they and EE, which got a head-start thanks to some crafty frequency repurposing, will hit most of the UK’s big cities, and possibly some rural areas, by the end of the year.
Lewis Hamilton rules F1
The new signing will win Mercedes-Benz its first constructor’s championship, justifying his $100 million move. Well no, okay, he won’t… But Jenson Button should have a good shout, now he’s the unquestioned top boy at McLaren.
The crowd gets funded
As Kickstarter launches in the UK, tech entrepreneurs will no longer have to beg an angry Scottish former ice-cream man and a nine-foot-tall computer salesman for help to make their products. As a result, 2013 will be a year of plentiful, innovative, weird and, very possibly, ill-conceived gadgets.
Twitter flexes its muscle
Kiss goodbye to your favourite Twitter clients as the social network continues to force out third-party apps by tightening API restrictions. Expect the company to add photo-filtering and video-hosting services to its stable, as well as an official Windows 8 app.