2014 in Review: Technology

Shacknews takes a look back at some of the most notable news stories in tech.

6

Apple buys Beats; Announces iPhone 6, iPad Air 2, iPad Mini 3, and Apple Watch

Apple had quite the year in 2014 as they announced and released a number of new mobile products, which, of course, includes new iPhones and iPads.

After several years of its fans clamoring for a larger iPhone, Apple finally revealed both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus to feature larger screens than previous iterations of the smartphone. The iPhone 6 features a 4.7-inch display, while the iPhone 6 Plus is Apple’s first foray into the phablet market as its screen measures in at 5.5 inches. Both phones include a number of improvements, such as new processors. an improved camera, and improved displays, making these possibly the latest and greatest iPhones Apple has ever created.

Apple also announced new iPads: the iPad Air 2 and the iPad Mini 3. The iPad Air 2 is even thinner than the previous iteration as it measures at 6.1mm thick, which is thinner than the width of a standard pencil. The tablet features a new A8X processor, new 8MP iSight camera, and Touch ID. The iPad Mini 3 improves on Apple’s popular smaller tablet line by including a 7.9-inch Retina display, a new 5MP iSight camera, and Touch ID.

After years of rumors, Apple finally announced its Apple Watch this year. Similar to Google’s Android Wear, the Apple Watch is able to send a number of notifications to your wrist. This includes messages, Facebook updates, and even some simplified versions of your apps. The watch also allows its wearer to call upon Siri when necessary, start conversations with friends with a simple push of a button, and its digital crown allows you to perform pinch-and-zoom touchscreen mechanics without touching the screen itself.

Apple just didn’t announce and release new products this year as the company also acquired Beats for $3.2B in both cash and stock. The deal was made final back in August and added co-founders Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre as Apple employees, which the company believes both will help build up its links within the music industry. Since its acquisition, Beats hasn’t made any notable moves outside of offering some new headphones, although all eyes will be on both Apple and Beats in the coming year to see what comes out of this deal.

Oculus VR acquired by Facebook

Facebook is known to make some big acquisitions, but none was more interesting for us this year than their acquisition of Oculus VR for $2 billion earlier this year. The sale includes $400M in cash, $1.6 billion in Facebook stock, and an additional $300M for incentives.

Facebook acquired Oculus as the company seeks to use their technology into new realms of communications, media, entertainment, education, and, of course, gaming. "After games, we're going to make Oculus a platform for many other experiences," Zuckerberg added. "Imagine enjoying a court side seat at a game, studying in a classroom of students and teachers all over the world or consulting with a doctor face-to-face--just by putting on goggles in your home."

Oculus has been receiving some serious attention among the gaming community for several years, but now that Facebook has acquired Oculus VR, we're hoping that could be the catalyst that brings not only the Oculus Rift to the mainstream, but to also encourage other companies to offer their own VR headsets.

The Rise of the Smartwatch

Prior to this year, smartwatch manufacturers had to create their own OS that would communicate with a user’s smartphone. Samsung took a notable step forward with its Gear devices, but with Google’s announcement of Android Wear earlier this year, Android users have now been given a taste of the future on their wrists.

Android Wear allows users with a compatible Android device to be able to view a number of notifications on their wrist at any time, allowing the user to decide whether or not a notification is important enough to actually pick up their phone for. Android Wear goes beyond just pushing notifications to your watch as you’re able to access a number of Google Now commands that can set a reminder, call a contact, and even know what the temperature is outside.

Currently, there are only a handful of Android Wear compatible watches currently available, which includes the LG G Watch, Samsung Gear Live, and, my personal favorite, the Moto 360, which is the slickest looking watch out of what’s currently available. Android Wear has certainly impressed us this year and we're looking forward to what new devices and additional support the platform will receive in the coming year.

Senior Editor
From The Chatty
  • reply
    December 26, 2014 11:00 AM

    Daniel Perez posted a new article, 2014 in Review: Technology

    • reply
      December 26, 2014 11:37 AM

      This isn't a bad article Daniel but talking about the rise of the smart watch and not mentioning Pebble? Seems like a major miss.

      • reply
        December 26, 2014 5:39 PM

        Thanks, John! I'm aware of the Pebble and how it really was one of the first smartwatches to become available to consumers, but considering Google launched Android Wear this year and Apple finally announcing their Apple Watch, I felt those were the two major moments this year that helped put wearables into the public eye.

        Trust me when I say I have nothing but respect for the Pebble, but during its time in the spotlight, it was seen as more of a niche product. I have seen a steady increase in not only interest in smartwatches within the year, but I've seen people walking around with them. Sure - it isn't a large number of people, but I can honestly say I stumbled onto about 10 people this year actively wearing a smartwatch.

    • reply
      December 26, 2014 9:05 PM

      Does anyone really care about smart watches?

      They dont do anything the phone in my pocket doesnt. and my phone is always on my person anyway.

      • reply
        December 26, 2014 9:38 PM

        ^^^^ This

        Maybe in an era before the smart phone, perhaps. But we can move beyond that Dick Tracy shit now can't we?

        • reply
          December 26, 2014 9:40 PM

          I agree but I work with a bunch of folks who love them. They get messages and emails and other stuff that pops up on their phone and they glance at their watch real quick and keep moving on without having to actually pull their phone out of their pocket. In a society where seconds or even milliseconds of wasted time seem to be worth it to people, having that info pop up your watch seems to really be worth it to them. Not to mention that you can forget your phone in your car and it'll still pop shit up on your watch from dozens of feet away.

          I'm not entirely sold yet but I'm starting to see why people like the watches.

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            December 26, 2014 9:42 PM

            Well, think about it: how often do you pull your phone out only to glance at notifications and maybe the time, and put it away? A lot. If you just need to be notified the watch is going to do that job. A lot of people will be happy to pay for that convenience.

      • reply
        December 26, 2014 9:38 PM

        They're going to be huge.

      • reply
        December 26, 2014 9:49 PM

        I hated the idea until I was gifted a Galaxy Gear and used one for a while. My phone is in my pocket but feeling a vibration on my wrist is much easier to detect than a vibration in your pocket, also taking just a quick glance at my watch to see who is calling/texting me is really convenient. Oh and being able to just take a voice call while driving, really helps avoid being that guy driving and holding his phone.

        I know none of this is really worth the price of entry, but now that I'm used to it I'm going to have a smart watch until smart glasses actually get good.

    • reply
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