From smartwatches and Google Glass to autobahn broadband and the launch of 4G, it’s been a good year for tech. Here at Which? we’ve made phone calls from smartwatches and printed teapots in our test lab with 3D printers – both products need more work but there is plenty of potential.
But it’s not all sunshine and daisy chains. Most smartphone batteries still struggle to last more than a day while much of the countryside remains a wasteland of patchy broadband and missing phone network coverage.
Below is a list of what the Which? tech team would like to see in 2014. If there is a change you want to see or a new product you are longing for? Let us know in the comments section.
Decent 3G coverage
Dave Holes – Principal researcher, cameras
Forget 4G, I just want decent 3G coverage. Outside the main cities it’s absolutely rubbish. My commute into London is an expensive nightmare of unreliable, crowded trains full of exasperated passengers. But it’d be slightly more bearable if I could get a decent internet connection for checking my emails and surfing the web. That’s far from the case though; coverage is patchy at best and over lengthy stretches of track I’m lucky to get any signal at all. Once in London, coverage is excellent and connection speeds are swift, showing how good 3G can be. So please can the network providers look to improve things for the millions of us who live outside of the M25?
A game-changing smartwatch
Nic Shaw – Technology and cars editor
Dear major tech brands, what happened? Is it really so difficult to build a decent smartwatch? To date, the Pebble is my favourite by far: it’s easy to use, waterproof, does notifications really well and, crucially, has a battery that lasts almost a week. But it also looks and feels cheap and plasticky, probably because it was built by a startup. And while Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and Sony’s SmartWatch 2 are more solid, neither is much of a looker, and both demand daily charging. So, please, can somebody launch a true game-changer of a smartwatch in 2014? Apple and Google, over to you.
Android and Apple to get along
Rory Boland – Deputy technology and cars editor
Yes, Apple, I’m looking at you. I moved from an Android phone to an iPhone earlier this year and it was a nightmare. Moving contacts, music and photos was unnecessarily difficult and getting SMS messages transferred next to impossible. I have better things to do at the weekend than exporting text messages to and from excel spreadsheets. Moving your stuff between devices and operating systems should be simple. Android or Apple is the most fundamental choice you face when buying a phone, but you shouldn’t be forced to stick with either because they’ve locked up your stuff and thrown away the key.
Better battery life
Rob Leedham – Online writer
I’m all for faster phones with brighter, ever more high defined screens, but wouldn’t it be great if their batteries lasted for longer than a day? Thanks to the endless ream of emails I receive, my phone now spends at least seven hours charging each day – that’s more time than I spend asleep. The obvious solution would be for me to get a phablet with room for a massive battery. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of phones that were designed with the BFG in mind. Surely 2014 will offer a slim phone that lasts for more than 24 hours?
More storage as standard
Jonathan Richardson – Digital producer technology
Why does a 32GB tablet cost so much more than a 16GB tablet? Apple is probably the worst offender here, at least Samsung tends to let you add your own storage card. I can buy two 64GB memory cards for the £80 Apple wants for a mere 16GB more space on an iPad. App-mongers like Apple are spiting themselves with their stinginess – with my space full I won’t download more apps or music, let alone buy video content or other space-stuffers from iTunes.
Broadband you can rely on
Jess Moreton – Senior researcher, tablets
I hate it when I hear the door slam in the flat above mine, because as soon as my neighbours return my internet slows down to a crawl. It’s at that 6pm point, when everyone arrives home and hops online, that the networks suddenly clog up and my connection becomes useless for all but web browsing. I just want broadband that keeps a consistent speed and doesn’t decide to buffer halfway through Strictly – is that too much to ask of my internet provider in 2014?.
64-bit apps for 64-bit phones
Mike Plant – Online writer
The iPhone’s A7 chip has brought 64-bit processing to the world’s most famous mobile – but is that really a reason to be cheerful? The hesitancy of app designers to move on from 32-bit apps means there are hardly any 64-bit apps available. The most hyped aspect of your shiny new phone is rendered pretty much useless therefore and, with Android phones set to embrace 64-bit technology next year, it’s a problem only set to get worse. After spending hundreds of pounds on the latest handset you should be able to get the most from it.
What do you want to see from tech in 2014? Share your thoughts in the comments below.