It’s safe to say 2012 has been a fruitful year for technology, and it’s not likely that things will slow down through 2013. In fact, 2013 looks to be intense, tech-wise: The industry will likely continue to shift and change, hardware manufacturers will engage in price wars, the competition between tablets will be ferocious, video games will become more portable, and the world will be more connected than ever.
Here are five likely technology trends for 2013.
Video game consoles continue to struggle – There’s still a place for dedicated video game consoles, but they’re going to continue to struggle against the competition thanks to the rising popularity of tablet games. Nintendo’s Wii U took a step in the right direction with its semi-portable tablet controller that lets the player experience games without having to hog the TV, but what do Sony and Microsoft have in store?
Tablets fight for dominance – Tablet computers are gradually replacing PCs and laptops, and computer manufacturers have certainly noticed. 2013 will usher in affordable new models designed to take on the iPad—and each other.
Games continue to move to portable platforms – On the topic of tablets, video games will continue to shift from home consoles to tablets, phones, and dedicated handheld systems. A strengthening game library and increased cross-compatibility with the PlayStation 3 should give the PlayStation Vita a boost, and the Nintendo 3DS will continue to do well with the help of Nintendo’s franchises.
Price wars – What happens when hardware manufacturers are desperate to get your attention in a market that’s humming with activity? Sales. Lots of them. Keep your eyes open for slashed prices on smartphones, tablets, and games—particularly downloadable games on the App Store, Xbox Live Arcade, the PlayStation Network, and Nintendo’s networks.
More free Wi-Fi access at retail – Need to get out of the house, but not quite ready to detach yourself from the content feeding tube? No problem. More and more retail spaces, particularly restaurants and cafes, should have you covered with free Wi-Fi access. McDonalds and Starbucks already want you to hang out and surf over a latte—or a hamburger.
For more 2013 business trends, take a look at Gartner Inc’s 2013 trends.
It’s obvious that 2012 was a very busy year for technology. Apple upped its game with the iPhone 5 and new iterations of the iPad, but this was also the year that other electronics companies decided they weren’t going to sit on the sidelines and let Apple grab all the pieces of the tablet pie. We also saw Nintendo fire the first shot in the upcoming console war, and Sony rose up to challenge the Nintendo 3DS handheld with its PlayStation Vita. And if Rover strays too far from all this excitement, it turns out you can fit him with a GPS device to bring him back home.
Here are 10 examples of the best technology and gadgets of 2012.
iPad Mini – The iPad Mini is Apple’s answer to its growing 7” tablet competitors. The iPad Mini’s screen is nearly 8”, and the whole thing is compact, light, and supports the same games and apps as a regularly-sized iPad. Needless to say, it’s delightfully portable.
iPhone 5 – The iPhone 5’s aluminum casing is incredibly lightweight. The phone itself boasts a high resolution 4” screen, and offers a larger, clearer picture that previous iterations of the iPhone.
Wii U – Nintendo’s Wii U fired the first shot against Microsoft and Sony in the upcoming console race. The innovative tablet-style controller lets you play games on or off the television, putting an end to living room battles. The Wii U’s online community is called the MiiVerse, and it’s already filled with people scribbling their thoughts, tips, and doodles in real time.
Samsung Galaxy S III – The Samsung Galaxy S III’s power, versatility, and large 4.8” screen has made it a popular choice for Android lovers across North America. The S III contains eye-tracking ability, a Siri-style voice-activated assistant, and removable storage options.
Samsung ES8000 Series LCD HDTV – Samsung’s ES80000 HDTV series comes with some impressive new features that evolve HDTVs to a new level. Its dual core processors allow for swift online surfing, it has voice and motion controls, and, of course, its picture looks great. This is one more big step that blurs the line between computers and the television.
PlayStation Vita – Sony’s follow-up to the PlayStation Portable has two touch screens: One in the front, and a particularly creative addition in the back. Look for lots of great exclusives available at retail and on the PlayStation Network, including new entries in the LittleBigPlanet, Ratchet & Clank, and Sly Cooper franchises.
Microsoft Surface Tablet – Microsoft’s sleek and intriguing entry in the tablet market includes a cover that doubles as a keyboard. If you use your tablet for work but detest using an on-screen keyboard, the Microsoft Surface may give you a happy medium. There are two version of the tablet: One runs on Windows RT, and the other is packed with Windows 8 Pro.
13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display – The 13-inch Macbook Pro with retina display is a powerhouse, and it offers an incredibly crisp and clear display. It’s light, portable, and will gladly take on any task you throw at it—all while looking beautiful.
Tagg GPS Pet Tracker – Nothing causes stress and panic like a beloved family pet that’s slipped its boundaries and gone “exploring.” Tagg’s series of GPS pet trackers lets you find your furry friend with the aid of a computer or a mobile phone.
Google Nexus 7 by ASUS – The Nexus 7 is a tablet computer developed by Google and Asus. It has a 7” inch screen, runs on Android, and is optimized for games and apps on Google Play. At $299 USD, it’s also priced extremely competitively.
A smarter way to play: Video games industry analysis, reviews & insight.
It’s remarkable how quickly smartphone and tablet games shot up into mainstream relevancy. Specifically, games for iOS (Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad) are holding their own in the video game market alongside consoles and handheld gaming systems like the Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation Vita.
But iOS games are downloadable. Can they still make a good gift? Sure! A $25 iTunes card can buy tons of great games, especially since iOS games tend to go on sale frequently. Just hand over a card, plus this list of 2012’s top ten iOS games (or you can memorize it).
Rayman Jungle Run – Rayman Jungle Run is currently one of 2012’s top-rated iOS games, and for good reason. This endless runner/platforming hybrid challenges you to tear across tons of levels at top speed while still keeping an eye out for enemies, pits, and secrets. It looks great, too. Good luck.
Angry Birds Star Wars – This is the iOS game you are looking for. Angry Birds Star Wars puts Rovio’s famous fowl into the robes of various Jedi and Rebels. On the other side are the ever-nefarious Pigs, serving the Empire’s whims like the scum that they are. In the end, the battle between Good and Evil comes down to a lot of flinging, flying, and screaming—more or less what you’d expect from an Angry Bird game.
Symphonica – Symphonica is a different kind of rhythm game that lets you sample what it’s like to be a concert conductor. Unfortunately, your orchestra is on the verge of collapse and you need to build it up. It’s like the movie Mr Holland’s Opus, but with more cute anime-style visuals.
Punch Quest – Punch Quest is a retro-style arcade beat-em-up that knows how to have fun. Use your fists to break your way through walls of enemies, or just take the easy way out by hopping on a dinosaur that shoots lasers from its mouth.
Need for Speed: Most Wanted – Most Wanted is a bit pricey for an iOS game (currently, the normal asking price is $6.99 USD), but what you get in exchange is a racing game that’s pretty darn close to a full console experience. Need for Speed: Most Wanted looks good, moves smoothly, and lets you race, race, race with over 35 customizable cars.
Girls Like Robots – Adult Swim’s Girls Like Robot is one of the cutest, most unique puzzle apps you can nab for iOS. You’re in charge of seating arrangements, and you need to make everyone happy if you want to advance to the next level. Remember: Girls like robots, but they don’t like nerds. Nerds like robots, but man, they can’t stand each other. Ready to get to work?
Arc Squadron – If you miss Nintendo’s Star Fox space-shooter series, Arc Squadron might help fill that fox-shaped gap in your heart. Fly, blast your way through asteroids, bomb enemies into oblivion—and, of course, perform barrel rolls to your heart’s content.
Bad Piggies – Okay, okay—maybe the Pigs from Angry Birds have their own reasons for being bad. Hunger is a strong motivator, after all. In Bad Piggies, you take the role of the Pigs and build all kinds of crazy contraptions in hopes of stealing the Birds’ eggs. Can’t make an omelette without breaking a few bones, right?
Splice: Tree of Life – Splice is an artistic puzzle game that demonstrates iOS titles don’t just have to feature mindless tapping. Your goal is to re-arrange strands of DNA via splicing until you morph into a target structure. It’s original, it’s addictive, and the soundtrack is very, very pretty. Beware though: Splice only works on the iPad.
Chrono Trigger – Chrono Trigger was released for iOS at the tail-end of 2011, but for the love of all space and time, don’t deny yourself the chance to play this wonderful classic RPG by Square-Enix. Originally released for the SNES in 1995, Chrono Trigger is still one of the most beloved games of all time. Its iOS re-release demonstrates that its story, characters, and time-ripping mechanics have all held up very well.