What will be the big tech stories in 2015

While many a sci-fi film, including Back To The Future, will tell you that no past or future is written in stone, that doesn't mean we can't hypothesise what we, as journalists will be reporting on five years from now, in 2015.

We asked a number of prominent technology journalists from the UK and the US what they thought they would be writing about in the year 2015. We gave them two options, either to tell us what they thought, or write it as if they were there now.

The Newspaper men

Jack Schofield, Computer editor, The Guardian

2015 Google versus government control: I’ve been online since the early 1980s, so five years doesn’t seem very far in the future. Today’s most important companies -- Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft -- will still be important, and if I knew what the next Facebook or Twitter was going to be, I’d be in the venture capital business, not telling you. However, I’m sure the major trends will continue. The obvious ones are increasing mobility (we’ve gone from mainframes to minicomputers, desktop PCs, laptops, netbooks, mobile phones) and rapidly decreasing privacy.

Someone with access to your mobile phone and web data knows where you are, if you haven’t told them via Facebook, Twitter, Flickr (geo-tagged photos), Foursquare or some other service. This sets up a potential conflict between companies that profit from personal data (such as Google and Facebook) and governments that want to control their power and also access that data for other means. The standard motivations, or excuses, include catching terrorists, preventing “copyright theft” (music and movie downloads), and censorship (“hate speech” and pornography).

By 2015, many of the things Google wants to do could prompt a lawsuit somewhere or other, whether the stated concern is privacy, copyright, censorship or its massive market power (ie anti-trust cases). Governments that fought to control IBM and Microsoft will also want to limit Google, and China is probably just the start. How many users will care is another matter. Most will only want shinier gadgets and an easier life.

Harry Wallop, Consumers Affairs editor, Daily Telegraph

How different will technology really be in five years' time? I'm not sure many major breakthroughs will have happened apart from the continual cycle of everything getting lighter, faster and cheaper. 

But a few things, I hope, will be landing on tech journalists' desks to test out: 3D televisions that don't require glasses; voice recognition software that can truly and easily capture the spoken word and translate it into (almost) perfect written copy; a universal remote control that doesn't require a doctorate to use and wireless recharging devices. The one technology that is already being developed and could transform many people's lives for the better is a charging station that can be embedded in a desk or kitchen surface. Toss down your phone, MP3 player, or camera and it charges up. No wires, no special kit.

Powermat is developing a very crude version of this, but so far each gadget needs its own special battery, and it only works for mobile phones and it is very expensive. The technology will take off when every gadget is intelligent enough to pick up the charge from the mat, without the consumer having to buy any extra batteries, cases or plugs, and when the ugly mat can be incorporated into furniture.

David Phelan, Freelance technology journalist

Little, Brown has announced that its latest book, "How I came to love the internet" by Stuart Miles, would be published next month in paper format as well as the conventional electronic platforms. The publisher has taken the unusual step of an "analogue version" to "make a bigger splash" and hoped to create paper editions of key titles up to three times a year from now on. Other electronic publishers welcomed the move, but said that they had no current plans to print titles on what one company referred to as 'dead wood'.

The rumour mill has been grinding away with snippets referring to the putative 9th generation iPhone. While Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, has been characteristically tight-lipped about the existence of a new version, it's believed the new model will be the first to use Apple's own network of mobile phone transmitter satellites, thus doing away with the need to use the conventional networks like T-Mobile-Orange or the newly merged Virgin-O2. Apple has used its own computer chips in its iPad, iPhone and iPod since 2010, and Mac computers since 2012.

It's thought unlikely the new phone will be Flash-compatible.

With the App Store now holding 2 million applications, users will be glad of the arrival of the Super-Genius function now found in iTunes where users say what's on their mind into the iPhone's microphone and the program chooses the most relevant 50 apps.

Finally, Sony's 50-inch OLED flatscreen TV goes on sale this week, competitively priced at £2000. Like nearly all of Sony's TVs of the past few years, it's 3D-capable and uses the 4K resolution which took over as the HD standard last year. Sky currently has 10 4K channels, though three of its six 3D channels will close this year, with only Sky Olympics 3D due to launch next year in time for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

The online reporters

Tom Warren, Editor in Chief, Neowin.net

In 2015 I think I will personally be reporting on the way mobile computing has changed the world. We will begin to see people using their mobiles as primary devices that hook up to a keyboard, mouse and screen and feed their data from the cloud.

Current mobile operating systems will evolve and Google, Microsoft and Apple will be the main players. 2015 will also be a time where HDTV will become the norm for average households. Programming from the big channels like BBC and ITV will be available freely and both Sky and Virgin Media will provide many more HD offerings.

In terms of gaming I think we’ll see a focus on 3D gaming where most console manufacturers will adopt advanced forms of motionless controllers. 3D gaming will be the next big thing.

Also in 2015 I believe Microsoft’s Windows dominance and Internet Explorer dominance will change greatly. I believe the market share for Windows will drop greatly, driven by consumers purchasing devices with rival software such as Android and iPhone OS. I also believe Internet Explorer usage will continue to drop due to security concerns and better market alternatives.

Dan Grabham, Deputy editor, TechRadar.com  
 
Obviously we’d all hoped that by 2015 we’d be talking about Mattel hoverboards, but I hear the global economic situation has hampered development on these somewhat. More realistically, I think the “green tech” movement will become much, much more of an issue, with power consumption really dominating people’s thinking when they buy their TVs and PCs. Mobile phones and mobile PCs will finally be super-connected with 4G having matured. Super Hi-Vision will also be on the cards – Sky will have launched a channel and HD will have been the accepted format for all main broadcasts for at least a couple of years. 3D? Around, but very much still something for the home enthusiast. As for gaming, pretty much everything will be gesture-based, though we won’t have seen the back of physical controllers. Will computing have gone the same way? I’d like to say so, but I’m going to stick my neck out and say "probably not".

Gordon Kelly, News editor, Trustedreviews.com

Today sees the UK government launch its "Love Your Laptop" campaign, aimed at trying to make owners treat their machines with more respect. The move comes after the average retail price of a laptop plummeted below a packet of cigarettes (£19.99) in 2014. The blame for users' casual attitudes has been laid at the feet of cloud computing, which has taken away the need for laptops to have native performance beyond that of your average laser can opener.

"Just because laptops are now empty shells doesn't mean we should treat them like, erm... empty shells", said a campaign spokesperson, before using his laptop as a dinner tray. "We fully back this campaign", added a representative for the country's ruling Google government. "Try to treat your laptops with respect, as if they had some nostalgic value - you know, like paper".

Paul Miller, Editor, Engadget.com

I hope in five years we're looking at new versions of Windows and Mac OS X that take ideas from Windows Phone and iPhone and Courier and make them into standard parts of desktop and laptop operating systems. Ideas like "snackable" app stores, standardized hardware targets, and appropriate use of touch could really revitalize the desktop experience, or make a tablet PC useful.

As the web services we use become more standardized, I'd like to see them migrate back out of the browser and into well-integrated desktop applications. Of course, I'd like to see this start a long time before then, but perhaps in five years time we'll be onto the second generation or maturation of these concepts. While it will take a while to catch on or become obvious or even valuable, I think iPad will lead the way. 

Amy-Mae Elliott, staff writer, Mashable.com

I think the big tech news story of 2015 will be the announcement from a Japanese company that an RFID implant is now safe and available for humans. Designed to go under the skin of your wrist, and powered by fuel-cell technology, the chip will offer consumers the chance to wave and pay for goods under 2000 yen as well as collect data from RFID-enabled billboards and other points of sale that can then be read via a personal RFID reader later. Interest in the news for the UK market is bolstered by the fact that The London Underground has expressed interest in the idea for its Oyster scheme.

Andy Lim, Editorial director, Recombu.com

In 2015 I'll be writing about fewer but better phones. Mobile manufacturers will make less handsets and focus more on content and services hopefully. The app market will have matured with certain app developers creating massively popular apps on the same scale as World of Warcraft or Facebook. Mobile phones will take a more central role in people's lives but at the same time put a greater strain on networks, which will hopefully lead to further investment in better network technology.

John Biggs, Editor, Crunchgear

I think in five years we'll be wondering where everything went. The things we carry now will have, by then, compressed into devices the size of an iPhone and ereaders, gaming, laptops, and phones will become one and the same. We'll ask "Where did all our stuff go?"

Mahendra Palsule, Editor, Techmeme

1. Facebook will not become AOL 2.0. To remain competitive, it will be forced to interoperate with other networks.

2. Social Networks will no longer be "places" on the web. Instead, your "social graph" will follow you on the web.

2.1 You will control your social graph - choose and add from among different networks - Facebook, Twitter, Google, Windows Live - which will all be interoperable using an open standard. This evolution of social networking will be similar to that of Instant Messaging, where the open XMPP standard became popular, achieving interoperability.

2.2 Rather than social networks wanting you to visit and spend time on their site, they will compete to become an inseparable part of the time you spend online, whether mobile or desktop.

2.3 The social graph that follows you will help personalize and customize your browsing experience for everything:

- Primary Content on websites - e.g. which headlines/articles you see

- Ads - tailored to your social identity and graph

- Search Results

- Which friends of yours are online, shown within your browser

- Reactions/comments from your friends optionally shown for the web page you're visiting

Websites will personalize according to your social graph using mechanisms like Facebook Connect, Google Friend Connect, Twitter Following/Followers graph, etc.

3. Anti-trust legislation will be a major threat to Google's dominance both in US and EU. "Will Google split up?" will be a question discussed in the media.

4. Apple's mindshare will start to decline. As Steve Jobs approaches retirement, questions will be asked of Apple's survival.

5. Privacy and Anti-Piracy will continue to make headlines.

5.1 On Privacy: We would move to a public-by-default, private by opt-in model.

5.2 On Anti-Piracy: Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) will be in place, along with a global version of the DMCA.

The TV presenters

Martin Stanford, Presenter, Sky News

The new Choogle Smart Watch, the new smart-phone-in-a-watch device from Choogle, the Chinese search and advertising giant that deposed Google from global top spot two years ago.
 
The device, which has several display options: hologram projection in front of the user or direct to the iris via spectacles or contact lenses, offers basic connection speeds of 1Gbps up to 100Gbps where service areas allow. Body Health Check monitoring is native to the device rather than being an add-on, and unlike earlier versions, needs no sensors to be placed elsewhere on the skin to maintain total Cloud Body Monitoring.
 
The Smart Watch is the first major product from the recently announced collaboration between Choogle and the newly merged Korean company SamLGsung.

Rory Cellan-Jones, Presenter, BBC

By 2015, social media will have evolved into the dominant form of human interaction. We will all be online 24/7 with our status updated at the twitch of an ear via a cochlear implant. The "internet of things" will be all around us, with every car, fridge and pair of boxer shorts online and able to share data, and update their own Facebook statuses. The office will have been rendered redundant - we will all have advanced tele-conferencing suites in the loft and spend much of the day chewing the fat about the latest iPlayer Eastenders episode around the virtual watercooler...

Or perhaps not. Listen if I knew this stuff I'd be lounging by the pool in Barbados, not slaving over a hot blog.

You

What do you think you'll be reading about in the year 2015? Have your say in the comments below:

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