After cashing in $205bn, it’s safe to say Apple has had a pretty successful year, with the Guardian reporting that the company now has more money in the bank than “the Czech Republic, Peru and New Zealand make in gross domestic product a year”.
So, after such a hugely successful year, what’s to come in 2016?
2015 saw Apple release its Watch, which allowed people to get their hands on a piece of wearable tech that linked up to their Apple phone and seamlessly pay for things contactlessly and see their incoming calls, messages and emails at the flick of the wrist. Apple Pay was also introduced in July 2015, which helped devoted fans pay for purchases by simply holding their device up to a card reader.
Of course, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus have also just been released, as the company aims to make its creations bigger and better – although work still needs to be done as they have become ever more fragile, leading to more and more people having to search for iPad repair online, to fix smashed screens after dropping them.
There’s also the introduction of an updated Apple TV, with a major expansion to the box’s ability to use apps, along with streaming from iTunes, making it a much more serious competitor to Google’s Chromecast and the Amazon Fire.
Apple’s most successful year has all been down to its innovative approach to technology, as it breaks the boundaries when it comes to size and limitations. It aims to create devices that are accessible to all, work seamlessly within the user’s everyday life and 2016 is rumoured to have great things in store.
Firstly, the iPhone 7 is on the cards for as early as summer 2016, with rumours flying that this latest device will feature everything from wireless charging to a touch screen with built in touch ID. Battery life is a big issue for iPhone users so people are expecting Apple to tackle the usability of their phones and their ability to last throughout the whole day while using all manner of apps. Those discussing the potential iPhone 7 are also hoping the company will push out phones with a starting point of 32GB, going on to 64GB and 128GB because 16GB is just not enough now when using a high powered mobile device.
The Apple Watch 2 is another rumoured release for 2016, that should boost the company’s ratings and earnings. While the first release has only just come down in price and is being seen on the wrists of people on the street a second, upgraded release will still be well received. The rumoured second release is said to potentially feature a front facing camera for Facetime chatting and a wireless chipset which means the watch could be used without having to rely on your iPhone. Better battery life is another feature that is being discussed and hoped for.
Whatever Apple release in 2016, and even if next year isn’t as big as 2015 was for them, they will always enjoy a high amount of sales due to their loyal customer base who wait outside Apple stores on release days like an excited teenager when the new Harry Potter books were released in the 00s. Apple shouldn’t have any issues making sales next year and it will be exciting to see what innovative products the company releases when the New Year rolls around.
Recent figures have found that there has been an increase in the amount of white cars being sold. Whether we mean to or not, most of us judge other people by the car they drive. Car have powerful connotations in modern society, with many judging consumer purchase purely on what manufacturer’s product they drive. Psychologists have made links between the cars people choose and the personality traits they were likely to exhibit, and it also seems that the colour of the cars we buy can be influenced by popular culture and technology.
The market for new and used cars is recovering rapidly – figures from 2014 showed that sales were up 9.1% from 2013, and the UK is now the home of the second largest automobile market in Europe, losing out only to Germany. In 2004, sales of white cars were so few that they were not reported separately. However, now 22% (approximately one fifth) of all new cars registered in the UK are white. The reason for this sudden change in popularity, according to vehicle hire company Arval, is the meteoric popularity of the iPhone.
Since the iPhone was released in 2007 and the iPad in 2010, white has come to symbolise technological progress, sophistication, wealth, and youthfulness. Statistics reported on Motors.co.uk show that buyers of white cars are likely to be younger than the average car buyer, around 38 years old, and are more likely to be of senior managerial level. Lighter coloured cars are also associated with safety – figures from 2012 show that in that year silver cars were more likely to pass an MOT than any other colour.
Although silver was the colour of choice in 2012, by 2013 black was the favourite – sales of black cars rose by 9% from 2011, and silver was forced to take second place. Blue was still popular (blue cars, especially electric blue cars, are reported to have the happiest drivers, while drivers of red cars are reported to be more aggressive, and those who drive pastel coloured cars are more likely to suffer from depression).
The iPhone and iPad are, arguably, the most iconic pieces of technology on the market, with no other brand managing to capture public attention in the same way. Apple is synonymous with cool, which could also explain the increased popularity of black cars as well as white as technological devices are available in both colours.
It may still be October but already people across the nation are starting to put together Christmas wish lists. Smartphones are pegged as one of this year’s hottest gifts and with the huge selection of cutting-edge models out there, it’s easy to see why. From super-sized screens and HD displays to front end cameras and all new operating systems, 2014 has seen some exciting new upgrades to all your favourite handsets. To help you navigate the market, we’ve put together a curated collection of the top phones that will be making an appearance under the Christmas tree this year!
When it hit shelves earlier this year the Apple iPhone 6 caused a huge amount of buzz. It’s the biggest model to date, in both size and popularity! As well as a larger 4.7-inch or 5.5-inch display screen, users are also treated to a wafer thin handset, 8MP camera, enhanced optics and a lightning-fast processor. Check out GiffGaff’s leading offer and simple plans.
Nokia Lumia 930
Windows is one of the newer smartphone OS players and the Nokia Lumia 930 has emerged as the software giant’s flagship device. The cutting edge 8.1 operating system offers users a range of exciting new features including the ability to customise lock screens, set unique wallpaper for each individual title and even access Cortana, Microsoft’s intelligent personal assistant. With a 5-inch HD display screen, 20MP camera and state-of-the-art sound pick up, the Nokia Lumia 930 is a tech lover’s dream. O2 are currently offering this on their popular refresh contract and on payg.
Huawei Ascend Y530
It may not be the most sophisticated smartphone on the market but when it comes to value for money, nothing beats the Huawei Ascend Y530. A 4.5-inch screen makes it ideal for viewing pictures and movies, a 5MP camera snaps crystal clear shots and the Android operating system makes using the device amazingly easy. At less than £80 Sainsbury’s are hoping to pull in the punters looking for an affordable smartphone this Christmas.
Samsung Galaxy Note IV
Samsung Galaxies have taken the smartphone world by storm and nothing confirms the series’ reign more than the latest IV model. This version has shunned the plastic body and replaced it with a robust metal frame and sleek leather backing. Screen size still remains at 5.7-inches however developers have boosted resolution to an impressive 2K.
Sony Xperia Z3
While changes to the latest Sony Xperia are relatively minimal, it does feature a handful of new features that make it smarter and more practical than its predecessors. Soft rubber corners safeguard the device against accidental drops while the 5.2-inch screen is capable of playing HD movies and shooting in 4K resolution. Users also enjoy an incredible two days of battery life!
HTC One M8
For self-confessed ‘selfie’ addicts, the 5MP front facing lens on the HTC One M8 is a major draw card. The 2014 model builds on its forerunner though still retains the flagship features that won the HTC One so much attention. Speakers are a huge 25% louder while the handset itself has been given an up-to-the-minute makeover. It’s available in Pink too exclusively at Carphone Warehouse.
Samsung Galaxy S5
For those who prefer a slightly more manageable handset, the Samsung Galaxy S5 is the perfect alternative to the enormous Note IV. The latest version of the series features a slightly larger display screen, 16MP camera, water resistant casing and even a built in heart rate sensor. It’s sleek, stylish and inherently smart.
With such a great range of next generation phones out there, Brits across the nation are set to be unwrapping shiny new handsets on Christmas day! From budget friendly smartphones to state-of-the-art technological masterpieces, there’s something for every festive shopper.
The release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus has caused a typical stir among consumers, not least because there have been two new products brought to market as opposed to one. There is also the added benefit of the new iOS 8 system, which has been unveiled simultaneously and remains available to customers’ with older Apple handsets. This release has also coincided with Google’s decision to release the new Android L operating system, which is the largest of its kind since the Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) was unrolled almost 3 years ago.
So whichever way you analyse these events, it is undoubtedly and extremely exciting time for customers nationwide. The overriding question is which of these upgrades is superior, as this may have a huge impact on whether the iPhone 6 or the equally coveted Samsung Galaxy S5 ultimately sells more units during the third and fourth financial quarter. The initial signals do not look positive for Apple, however, as reviewers have talked extensively about the ‘buggy’ nature of the iOS 8 and considered it to be one of the weakest features of the iPhone 6.
The new Android L is also superior in terms of design, as it has evolved considerably from previous operating systems and now utilises a ‘material’ design to make icons and onscreen content appear more physical and real. So even though the iOS 7 was renowned for presenting smart and clearly defined graphics, Apple’s failure to significantly improve this has enabled Google to steal a march and create a more sophisticated operating system. This is bad news for Apple, who have already been forced to iron out a number of bugs and glitches with their overall design.
Whether you use your phone for business or enjoy playing casino games online, the reliability and performance of your chosen operating system is crucial. So keep this in mind when buying a new smartphone and considering the relative merits of handsets on the market.
The mobile platform has changed traditional methods of fundraising, encouraging philanthropy in more engaging and convenient ways. Strengthened by the accessibility of smartphones and a global social network, charitable causes can now reap the benefits of an online and connected world.
By engaging with conscious individuals through these apps, non-profit organisations can obtain donations in a way that is not only simple and easy for the user, but can be fun and enjoyable as well.
Charity Miles allows you to raise funds for your chosen cause while you stay fit. Exercising both your body and your soul, this free app tracks your workout and makes a donation according to how many miles you covered. Simply choose a cause out of nine available, then get active and get fundraising. The app will donate 10 cents per mile cycled or 25 cents per mile ran or walked. In our health-conscious nation, it is the ideal way to encourage fitness while giving back.
Play to Cure: Genes in Space
Over one in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime and with more than 200 different forms of the disease, charities such as Cancer Research UK rely on vital support. While some may run or bake to raise funds, you can make a difference by playing the Genes in Space app. Developed in association with the Rational Group, Google and Amazon, the game aids research into cancer by allowing players to analyse genetic data in the form of a game. Scientists can then use this information to develop life-saving treatments.
It’s easy to forget how big an impact micro donations can have. It’s even easier to indulge in little unnecessary luxuries. Instead challenges us to make a small change in our everyday choices in order to make a big change to those in need. The app will clearly remind you what a difference these changes in routine can make and how just $3 or $5 can improve the lives of those you’re helping. For example, by just giving up your morning latte you could provide a year’s supply of clean water for a child in South Sudan.
Donate a Photo
Around 90% of people have only ever taken a photo using a mobile camera. The connectivity and convenience of smartphones mean they are now the go-to photo-taking device, allowing us to share our snaps with ease. Taking advantage of our shutterbug habits, the Donate a Photo app allows users to share their photos in order to benefit a number of causes. For each image shared through the app, creators Johnson & Johnson will donate $1 to your chosen cause, with the guarantee that they will never be used for commercial purposes.
The Budge app adds a social aspect to charity donation, letting users set their own challenges for friends or family. The loser is required to pay an agreed upon donation to a worthy cause, with integrated Facebook features allowing you to share your challenges and see what others are doing. The challenges can be as creative or as simple as you like, and can even be used as a motivational tool for staying fit or achieving goals.
Science Fiction has traditionally done a pretty good job of making us feel sad about not living in the future. We get a taste of some of the wondrous technology that might be available to our distant descendants, and then almost immediately are hurled back into our normal boring lives, which are full of toil, inconvenient menial tasks, and wasps. So much for progress.
But what we often fail to realise is that many modern technologies have actually gone far beyond anything Science Fiction was able to conjure up until comparatively recently. This often leads to the well-documented phenomenon of zeerust, in which the “futuristic” devices of SF past become so hopelessly dated that they appear amusingly quaint in hindsight. A particularly good example of this comes in the form of older depictions of “supercomputers” using tape reels and vacuum tubes. However, what may surprise you, gentle reader, is that some anachronisms that are still reasonably common in Science Fiction have escaped scrutiny almost entirely in the popular consciousness. Here are a few of our favourites.
1. Guns which fire bullets are the norm because they’re much more efficient than anything else
Almost every space-borne sci-fi show has some kind of energy-based weapon as the standard mechanism of combat between hostiles. In fact, lasers, phasers, and plasma guns are such an ingrained aspect of the genre in the eyes of some that it becomes slightly odd when they’re omitted (as in the remake of Battlestar Galactica). Some people remain disappointed that we haven’t abandoned traditional guns in favour of the more psychedelic option, but there’s a very good reason we haven’t.
First of all, the technology to create weapons-grade lasers has existed for some time, but it is ludicrously inefficient and has a bad habit of setting the air around the weapon’s firing line on fire. Likewise, “plasma” has the disadvantage of being essentially very hot gas, and being about as aimable and shootable as steam. Meanwhile, projectile-based guns are easy and cheap to make, and extremely good at killing things. As more knowledge of how next-gen weapons work trickles down, this facet of the sci-fi trope library is beginning to see less and less of the light of day, with railguns, coil guns, and other mass-accelerator type devices taking their place.
2. While our spacecraft may look worse, they are a lot better at actually being spacecraft
Discerning casual viewers of space missions will have noted that many of the things humans put into orbit or beyond are by no means easy on the eye. By comparison, many aircraft, along with the huge number of spaceships seen in TV and movie Science Fiction are sleek, smooth-edged things that are exceptionally pretty to look at. The very good reason behind this is that the sleek, smooth, aerodynamic models of fiction would be almost entirely useless outside of the atmosphere.
When you have an atmosphere around, it’s obviously to your advantage to make vehicles that are designed to move through it efficiently, hence the concept of “aerodynamic” design. However, out in space, where there is no atmosphere to steer against and nothing much at all producing friction, aerodynamics isn’t likely to get you very far. Craft like the moon lander look so ungainly and ugly precisely because they’ve been designed to be efficiently propelled by rockets, which are the only motive force currently available to us. So future spacecraft are likely to be more ‘Red Dwarf’ and less ‘Starship Enterprise’. The sole exceptions are space shuttles, which have been designed with some basic aerodynamic considerations in mind because they need to be able to fly through the atmosphere in order to land.
3. Our handheld computers are much better than most iconic fictional examples
Admittedly, this one feels like a bit of a cheat, since laptops, tablets and ultrabooks are now produced by dozens of manufacturers and a lot of these devices are a recent phenomenon. It’s difficult to blame shows like Star Trek for not anticipating them. But even our most recent science fiction forays have been prone to misrepresenting the power of handheld devices: They are either depicted as specialist equipment or bulky and inelegant. In reality, a properly configured tablet or smartphone can actually harness the same technology as their sedentary equivalents.
With a little bit of work, you can even double-head your computer setup in such a way that you can achieve the same effect seen with the handheld computer in this scene at the beginning of Avatar (ironically released within a few months of the first true tablets becoming commercially available). Our touchscreens are also sensitive and advanced enough to replicate effects seen in films like Minority Report, but we’ve done one better than the movies again in that we haven’t stapled them to a wall, so it’s actually possible to use them while sitting down, and without Tom’s ‘special gloves’.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that the dreamers of Hollywood don’t influence real world design. Would we have had the ‘clam-shell’ mobile phone without the original Star Trek communicator, or the iPad without Star Trek’s PADD? Maybe… But I can’t help thinking that people that designed those products must have been influenced by the TV shows and movies they saw in their youth. You only have to look at NASA to see that it did have some effect. After all, what was the name of the first space shuttle?.. Enterprise.