What the Which? tech team wants in 2014

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.

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9 replies

  1. Apple is far too proprietary. From its OS to its charging cables it restricts interaction with other technology and forces users to pay more for its own cables and accessories. I really like Apple products but stopped using them because of the above.

    1. Agreed. Most of my music is saved as MP3 files. Apple will not let me play them. Of course they could enable their devices to play MP3 files, but what they want is to tie me into buying music from them. Because of their attitude I will never buy aother Apple device.

    2. My wish for 2014 is that people like AndyD would stop being liars for the ridiculous reason of advocating their tech views on competitor mobile phones.

      Seems you’re selling yourself for very little.

  2. Yes. When we will finally get broadband that is fit for purpose. The speeds get in Kent aren’t much better than dial up. BT just shrug there shoulders.

  3. Typical approach from the Which? geeksquad. I want backup, a phone that doesn’t need its own “A” level course to understand and use to get 10% of its potential. I’d like to change things ONE LEVEL from the top, not by going through several often inappropriate menus, which are different ones from the previous model. Etc, etc. #used2beangryoftunbridgewells.

  4. You’re right this is typical of Which? I’m a member and it’s reassuring to see them taking about problems that affect many people and not being blinded by shiny new things.

    I don’t know enough about all of the points but I can say yes to better broadband, yes to proper mobile phone network coverage and yes, yes , yes to longer battery life. These may not be exciting advancements but Which? is highlighting problems that affect lots of people. As someone who can’t get decent broadband where I live it makes it very difficult to enjoy the many ‘technological advancements’ we are supposed to have now.

  5. 1. Better battery life and the facility for a user to replace a defunct battery without paying a fortune to the manufacturer.

    2. That manufacturers of electronic gadgets try and standardise the accessories so we can reuse plugs, leads and chargers on the next and subsequent variant of the device. A truly ECO advance instead of sending the old stuff to landfill or to so called recycling. Reuse NOT Recycle.

    3. Less of the hype from Which? on Apple and Google products. Many of us can’t afford Apple and in the case of Google, we value our privacy and prefer to use other browsers.

    I feel that items 1 and 2 should be an important consideration when reviewing a product as it not only impacts on our wallet but on the environment.

  6. I was looking at the replacement costs of batteries on Apple kit – where you have to send the item off to Apple, backing up all your stuff – and then they send you a “new” phone say for your £80.

    My son has a HTC with a ZeroLemon back so his phone is running with three batteries. OK so its heavier and he could have gone with the double battery back version but for a real power user – having 24 hours of power is good.

    Does Which? mention such things, and the cost of replacements, and what replacement battery brands are reliable. Not only for phones but cameras also where a second battery is almost mandatory.

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