The tech that defined 2015
From Windows 10 to Apple Watch and some seriously powerful portable laptops – 2015 has been a monster year for tech…
1. Windows 10
In a nutshell: Microsoft reinvents Windows (again) to play nicely on laptops, tablets, phones and even Xbox.
The next generation of Windows arrived in the summer amid much excitement. Windows 10 followed in the footsteps of Windows 8 – the most radical ever redesign of an operating system.
But Windows 10 took the best of Win8 and previous versions of Windows to create a much more user-friendly operating system.
You can use Windows 10 on your PC, laptop, tablet or phone – bashing a keyboard or swiping your finger across a screen.
It’s designed so you get the same experience regardless of device – download an app on your laptop and use on your tablet.
It automatically switches between touchscreen and keyboard controls when you attach or disconnect your keyboard (for 2 in 1s and tablets).
And you can ask its virtual digital assistant pretty much anything. Just start your question with, ‘Hey, Cortana…’ from questions about football to finding lost files or adding calendar appointments.
2. 4K Ultra HD TV
In a nutshell: 2015 will be remembered as the year 4K became the living-room norm.
We first wrote about 4K Ultra HD at CES 2013, when the tellies were huge in size and in price tag.
Since then we’ve reported on all the key developments of 4K UHD. And we think 2015 will be remembered as a pretty important year.
Why? We saw…
- The launch of 4K streaming through Netflix and Amazon Instant Video
- TVs future-proofed for 4K streaming and Ultra HD Blu-ray becoming the norm
- Falling prices – you can now buy a 4K TV for under £500
- Smaller 40-inch screen sizes – because who can fit a 84-inch TV in their living room?
- Even sharper picture quality through things like quantum dots and high dynamic range
- The first Ultra HD Blu-ray players and 4K Blu-ray discs announced
3. Google Chromecast Audio
In a nutshell: Google makes your speakers Spotify friendly – and saves you cash in the process.
When Google launched the original Chromecast a few years ago it revolutionised how we watch TV.
It was a small, thumb-sized device that plugged into your TV’s HDMI port to allow you to stream Netflix or BBC iPlayer to your telly over your home Wi-Fi.
In 2015 Google did the same for home audio and speakers.
Just plug the equally small Chromecast Audio into your existing speakers and it turns them into Wi-Fi speakers.
Using your phone as a remote, you can stream Spotify and other streaming services through the speakers.
It costs just £30, too. Bargain.
4. Apple Watch
In a nutshell: The smartwatch gets the Apple makeover – clever, cool-looking, already a classic.
It took the Apple Watch to make smartwatches something you’d see on the wrists of non-techy types.
With Apple Watch you can pick up calls and messages from your iPhone, find your way from A to B using the built-in maps.
You can set reminders to go shopping, or pay for things using Apple Pay. There are fitness apps for tracking your next run.
Speak into the watch to set reminders or to reply to messages, or send colourful animations instead. When someone messages or calls you, you’re notified with a subtle tap on the wrist.
Did we mention the Digital Crown? It looks like a regular watch crown, but twist it and you’ll scroll though messages and zoom in and out of pictures.
Tech analyst IDC says Apple Watch is on track to grab 61% of the global smartwatch market in 2015.
5. Intel Core M laptops
In a nutshell: laptops get thinner, quieter and cooler (as in not warm) while still packing power.
One of the laptops of 2015 has been the new Apple MacBook – Stuff Magazine named it laptop of the year in its annual awards, and Pocket-Lint named it among its finalist.
Why? Its sheer portability is one of the main reasons. It’s just 13.1mm thin and weighs 0.9kg.
How? It is powered by an Intel Core-M processor, and features very clever Apple design too (of course).
What’s Intel Core-M? A really small, quiet and cool laptop processor. Its 50% smaller and 30% thinner than the last generation of Intel Core processors.
How? It’s designed to use less power, and therefore generate less heat. Traditionally laptops need built-in fans to cool down their processors, but laptops using Core-M processors don’t need fans.