10 Big Technology Trends Likely to Emerge in 2016

10 Big Technology Trends Likely to Emerge in 2016

Predicting the future is a dangerous game. It’s easy to speculate and easier still to hope, but what we have to do is carefully look at all the promising developments we’ve seen in the recent past and then evaluate how we think they’ll keep going, and what else they’ll lead to. Some companies are kind enough to provide roadmaps and projections, but surprises can pop up out of anywhere, anytime.

We’ve looked at the state of tech and of the world at large to bring you our list of ten things we think will be significant in the world of personal technology in 2016. From global-scale trends that will shape politics and policy to the individual features of our next smartphones, there’s a lot to think about.

1) The death of the traditional desktop OS
With Microsoft taking full control of Windows 10 updates and doing whatever it can to push users to its latest OS, the traditional notion of the OS is dead in 2016. From forced updates to a dependency on being completely online and licenses tied to specific hardware, we’re heading into a world of subscriptions and service fees that can’t be avoided.

Google already pushes ChromeOS as a gateway to its own services, which are barely usable offline. A steady stream of minor updates will mean there’s no concept of a version number anymore – and your rapidly depleting data cap will make you wish Internet connectivity was better.

(Also see: FUP (Fair Usage Policy) Is an UFP (UnFair Policy))

broadband_test_dec15_ndtv.jpg2) Broadband becomes our lifeblood
You’re only as good as your Internet connection. The music and gaming industries have been quick to adopt streaming as a revenue model, and that means more pressure on your bandwidth limit. This year saw a plethora of music streaming services and 2016 could see the launch of even more – there is also some serious speculation that both Netflix and Amazon Prime Video will arrive in India. It doesn’t stop here.

Both Sony and Nvidia have made their intentions to stream video games to every device on the planet clear as well. Almost every game on PC, PS4, and Xbox One ships in an unfinished state on disc and requires massive updates before you even start playing. What this means is that you need to start upgrading your broadband connection before you upgrade your gadgets.

3) Hardware evolves and improves
Possibly the safest bet to make – 2016 is set to bring about some big changes on the hardware side of things – from televisions to smartphones to home Internet. Most televisions today use LED-backlit LCD panels, but LG brought OLED to the market in 2015 and more manufacturers, including Samsung, Haier and TCL, have announced plans to follow suit in 2016. OLED TVs use a thin, electrically charged organic film to emit light, and each pixel generates its own light. OLED TVs have many advantages, including lighter and thinner panels, deeper blacks, and wider viewing angles.

USB Type-C ports are also expected to become commonplace on smartphones and PCs, and will finally make it easier to plug your phone into its data cable or charger. On the connectivity front, 4G network capabilities will grow, and more operators will be available for to users in India to choose from, and 5G will begin trials in some parts of the world.

More phones will have high-resolution screens, and more flagship smartphones will have to step up to at least Quad-HD or 4K resolution. Finally, we hope to see e-SIM cards also make an appearance. This would mean that it would no longer be necessary to insert a different SIM card into your phone for different operators; all you’d have to do is select the network of your choosing.

4) Devices may take on fresh new shapes
Smartphones, tablets and computers in 2016 will adopt new form factors. Samsung is expected to finally bring its foldable screens to market, which will allow devices to be truly flexible. It may be possible to fold your huge smartphone and put it away in your pocket, or bend it just as much as you like. Curved screens are also expected to become more common. This will allow for more variety in the designs and form factors of our devices.

We can expect smartphones in 2016 to keep getting slimmer. Reports have already emerged that theiPhone 7 will be 1mm slimmer by ditching the 3.5mm socket, and Android manufacturers will surely follow suit. There is an increasing demand for slimmer phones, and manufacturers will do all they can to cater to it.

samsung_curved_screen_samsung.jpg5) Virtual reality and augmented reality will still be just around the corner
Virtual and augmented reality experiences are closer than ever, but as far as mainstream acceptance is concerned, they’re still going to be just beyond the reach of most of us. Ever since the Oculus Rift first burst onto the scene with its blockbuster Kickstarter fundraiser, we’ve tried out a number of different headsets, and the frontrunners today are essentially down to the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, and thePlayStation VR.

These are all supposed to launch in 2016, though the requirements in terms of space, compatible hardware, and high pricing means that none of them are going to be accessible to most people. Augmented reality, in the form of Microsoft’s Hololens for example, is a different kind of experience – instead of immersing yourself in the virtual world, augmented reality is about bringing virtual elements into the real world. Google Glass is another example.

Hololens will be expensive, and like the leading VR solutions, it will not be relevant to the majority of people in 2016. Both VR and AR are very exciting technologies that are making huge strides forward, but there’s still going to be a little wait before they become truly mainstream.

xiaomi_manu_MIA2.jpg6) The ‘Make in India’ initiative will gain momentum
The Indian government’s initiative to make this country a global manufacturing hub is going to really explode on a big scale next year. The wheels are already in motion as over the past few months, smartphone makers including Xiaomi, Asus and Gionee have announced plans to assemble phones at Foxconn’s Sri City facility in Andhra Pradesh. Qualcomm too, recently put forward its program to encourage product and ecosystem creation for smartphones and the Internet of Things (IoT) across sectors like banking, healthcare, agriculture, wearables and smart cities. The initiative has also been noticed by the likes of Twitter, which has recently launched a special emoji to symbolise it.

There’s a mega event being scheduled by the government of India in Mumbai from February 13 to 18 called ‘Make in India Week’, which will highlight the people, policies and partnerships which are paving the way forward for a digital India.

7) The Internet of Things (IoT) is only going to get bigger
The Internet of Things (IoT) concept has been just that, a concept, but 2016 could be the year it goes mainstream. Chances are, you won’t even notice it. Gartner estimates nearly 6.4 billion connected devices in use globally, which would be a 30 percent jump from this year. These might not be actual devices that you have on your person, but still gather information about your habits in order to give you personalised experiences. For instance, the next time you step out to buy a train ticket, the automated ticket teller could already know your daily travel route and dispense the appropriate ticket without you having to do anything.

Smart devices have already started percolating into the Indian market. Cube 26’s Smart Bulb andPhilips’ Hue are two such examples, and we expect many more to arrive next year. The policy framework for IoT is still being laid out and India is aiming for a six percent share in this $300 billion global industry. In addition, Amazon Web Services has launched a cloud platform for IoT which helps devices with limited memory or battery life communicate with each other. Global bigwigs including Google, Intel, Qualcomm, Cisco, Vodafone and Samsung, to name a few, are all heavily invested in IoT and believe this is where the future of personal technology is heading.

samsung_gear_vr_samsung.jpg8) Privacy and security become political weapons against Internet freedom
As incidents of terrorism and violence occur, security and early detection become the topics that politicians most love to harp on. Right at this moment, multiple agencies in countries around the world are trying to force manufacturers to add backdoors to their hardware and software, reduce the strength of commonly used encryption standards (or ban them outright), spy on all kinds of communications, and bump up surveillance using the best technology available.

As private citizens, our lives will be impacted heavily by whatever results from these efforts. We might begin to see a world in which devices track you all the time whether you like it or not. It’s already tough enough to buy a SIM card, but France is trying to ban the Tor network, Kazakhstan wants to force all users to allow remote access to their devices, several countries want to restrict Internet access, and the upcoming US presidential election is already full of rhetoric about the Internet and what Silicon Valley should do.

9) Devices gain cognitive capabilities
Cognitive computing, machine learning, artificial intelligence and neural networks: all overlapping terms for the kind of advanced device behaviour we’re going to start seeing in 2016. Pretty soon, we’ll be able to expect our gadgets and accessories to learn about us and our environments in order to make specific, subjective decisions. Qualcomm will start shipping its flagship Snapdragon 820 processor, which it touts will be able to identify subjects in photographs along with lighting and composition in order to quickly adjust settings, amongst other things. There are even applications in security, such as malware pattern detection, and in natural user interfaces, such as speech and handwriting processing.

Over time, developers will be able to create all kinds of new experiences, and assistants like Siri will be able to interact naturally and deliver results to us depending on our schedules and preferences. This is not only going to be the next huge smartphone feature, it’s going to change all kinds of digital devices, starting in 2016.

internet_tree_pixabay.jpg10) The sharing economy’s troubles are far from over
By now, we’ve come to be familiar with Uber, Airbnb, and various other platforms that let us turn our skills, possessions and time into money. On the flipside, there are those which want to make our lives easier by outsourcing errands such as grocery shopping and food delivery. The two concepts work together, since there are people willing to pay for such conveniences, and people willing to earn by providing them. Sitting pretty in the middle, platforms take a cut and have very little to do other than manage supply and demand.

(Also see: Rocket Internet’s Rocky Flight in India)

The second half of this year has seen an explosion of such hyperlocal startups, focusing on specific tasks or pain points that they can help people overcome. We haven’t yet seen how well they will work and how long they will all last – but it stands to reason that 2016 will see a lot of consolidation as not all platforms which duplicate each-others’ functionality can hope to survive.

Customers who try these services and become used to them should be prepared to have them wind up in short order – especially if they’re providing unsustainable discounts. On the other hand, those which have built up their user bases will ease up on promotions and then you’ll have to decide whether they’re worth the expense.

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Best Phone Under Rs. 10,000 [January 2016]

Best Phone Under Rs. 10,000 [January 2016]It’s not easy to simply head to a store and buy a smartphone based on a single specification. We always choose the one that falls within our budget and compare its overall performance with others in the same price segment before finally deciding to buy it.

(Also see:  Best Camera Phones Under Rs. 15,000)

Over time, we have seen smartphones often being boasted either for their camera, battery, or any other specification but not as an overall package. This makes it difficult for users to choose which is the best value for money phone and where does it exactly fall when it comes to overall performance.

(Also see:  Smartphones under Rs. 15,000 With Great Battery Life)

It is worth noting that while certain specifications may appear good in theory, they may not necessarily translate into a smartphone with best overall performance. Smartphones with high-end specifications, for example, can often give underwhelming results.

(Also see:  10 Smartphones We Loved in 2015)

Here’s a list of smartphones – all available under Rs. 10,000 – with best overall performance in our reviews, in no particular order. Note that we’ve restricted ourselves to phones launched in roughly the last six months.

Yu Yureka Plus
The Yu Yureka Plus, which was launched back in July this year, has already made it to the list of best camera phones under Rs. 15,000 and is now one of the best smartphones under Rs. 10,000 as well. The smartphone after going through rigorous tests gave impressive results and got an overall rating of 9/10 in all the sections except in design and battery life where it settled for 8/10. Available for as low as Rs. 8,999, the Yureka Plus smartphone runs on Cyanogen OS 12.1.

Yu Yureka Plus

Rs. 9999

  • Design

  • Display

  • Software

  • Performance

  • Battery life

  • Camera

  • Value for money

  • Good
  • Improved display and camera
  • Great performance
  • Customisable Cyanogen OS
  • Excellent value for money
  • Bad
  • Nothing significant considering the price
Read detailed Yu Yureka Plus review
ALSO SEE
Yu Yureka-plus 16gb White
₹ 10,924
Yu Yu Yureka Plus
₹ 11,069
Yu Yureka Plus(Moon Dust Grey, 16 GB)
₹ 11,489

Coolpad Note 3
Coolpad Note 3 is a comparatively a newcomer as it was launched in October this year. The smartphone fared well in our review, scoring a 9/10 rating for value of money. We were impressed by the smartphone’s quick and accurate fingerprint sensor, camera, battery life and overall performance. However, the UI customisations were not up to the mark. The handset is available for Rs. 8,999 from leading online retailers.

Coolpad Note 3

Rs. 8999

  • Design

  • Display

  • Software

  • Performance

  • Battery life

  • Camera

  • Value for money

  • Good
  • Quick and accurate fingerprint sensor
  • Good performance
  • Good camera
  • Good battery life
  • Bad
  • Limited availability
  • Unappealing UI customisations
Read detailed Coolpad Note 3 review
ALSO SEE
NIROSHA Coolpad Note 3 Mobile Car Kit Combo -Tem…
₹ 1,099
NIROSHA Coolpad Note 3 Mobile Car Kit Combo -Mob…
₹ 1,249
Samsung Note 3 Neo Black
₹ 40,500

Xiaomi Redmi 2 Prime
The Redmi 2 Prime by Xiaomi was one of the Chinese tech company’s iconic smartphones this year as it was the first ‘Made in India’ handset. It was launched in August this year and carried the same price tag as Meizu m2 – Rs. 6,999. The Redmi 2 Prime managed to secure a spot for itself in the list mainly because of its 4.7-inch IPS Sharp display with HD resolution and a decent battery life. The camera and design of the handset also got a respectable 7/10 rating in our review.

Xiaomi Redmi 2 Prime

Rs. 6999

  • Design

  • Display

  • Software

  • Performance

  • Battery life

  • Camera

  • Value for money

  • Good
  • Good construction quality
  • Great screen
  • Decent battery life
  • LTE on both SIMs
  • Bad
  • Ships with an outdated version of Android
  • Limited availability
Read detailed Xiaomi Redmi 2 Prime review
ALSO SEE
Accezory Screen Guard For Xiaomi Redmi 2 Prime (…
₹ 1,099
Johra Pack of 3 Ultra Clear HD Screen Scratch Gu…
₹ 1,700
Redmi 2 Prime(Grey, 16 GB)
₹ 6,999

Phicomm Passion 660
Phicomm Passion 660 smartphone received a 9/10 rating for value of money in our review. Launched in June this year in India, the dual-SIM smartphone got a worthy 8/10 rating for its ergonomic design and also fared well when it come to display, performance, and camera. Although the smartphone was launched at a price tag of Rs. 10,999, it can now be purchased for as low as Rs. 8,999 from third-party online retailers.

Phicomm Passion 660

Rs. 10999

  • Design

  • Display

  • Software

  • Performance

  • Battery life

  • Camera

  • Value for money

  • Good
  • Great design and ergonomics
  • Good specification list
  • Decent camera
  • Excellent value for money
  • Bad
  • Inconsistent performance
  • Average battery life
  • UI is underdeveloped and can’t be customised to your needs
Read detailed Phicomm Passion 660 review
ALSO SEE
Lenovo A7000 8 Gb- Black
₹ 8,819
Moto G Turbo Edition(Black, 16 GB)
₹ 12,499
Samsung Galaxy A5 (Midnight Black, 16GB) : Galax…
₹ 17,990

Intex Cloud Flash
Intex Cloud Flash is one of the most recently launched smartphones in the Indian market. The 4G LTE supporting handset was unveiled earlier this month. Although priced at Rs. 9,999 at the time of launch, it can be purchased for as low as Rs. 7,999 from Gadgets360. The smartphone got positive feedback for its vivid display and overall performance by our reviewers. It also got decent 7/10 rating for the design, battery life, and camera.

Intex Cloud Flash

Rs. 9999

  • Design

  • Display

  • Software

  • Performance

  • Battery life

  • Camera

  • Value for money

  • Good
  • Gorilla Glass 3 for back panel
  • Vivid display
  • Good app performance
  • 128GB SD card support
  • Bad
  • Forgettable design
  • Average camera performance
  • Battery life could be better
Read detailed Intex Cloud Flash review
ALSO SEE
Intex Cloud Swing (Black)
₹ 2,699
Intex Cloud Y13(White)
₹ 5,499
Intex Cloud Flash 4G White
₹ 6,999

Disclosure: Gadgets 360 is the official retailer for Intex Cloud Flash

Yu Yunique
Yu Yunique is the most affordable smartphone in our list, and the second entry for Yu, besides the Yu Yureka Plus. The smartphone got 8/10 rating when it came to its software and value for money. The 4G LTE supporting Yunique was launched at Rs. 4,999 in September this year.

Yu Yunique

Rs. 4999

  • Design

  • Display

  • Software

  • Performance

  • Battery life

  • Camera

  • Value for money

  • Good
  • 4G LTE support
  • Good looks, low weight
  • Good display
  • Near-stock Android
  • Bad
  • Mediocre camera
  • Limited availability
Read detailed Yu Yunique review
ALSO SEE
Yu Yunique 8gb
₹ 6,299
Yu YUNIQUE
₹ 6,398
Yu Yunique True 4G LTE
₹ 6,549

Apart from these, the Moto E (Gen 2) 4G (Review), InFocus M530 (Review), Meizu m2 (Review) are also good overall performers, but have a siginifcant drawback in one of the departments that may stop them from becoming your preferred picks in the crowded budget segment. The Lenovo K3 Note(Review) and Lenovo A7000 (Review) are also solid picks in this price segment, though they break the six-month rule we mentioned earlier and the launch of their successors is around the corner.

 

Which is your favourite phone in the sub-Rs. 10,000 market? Let us know via the comments.

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Skype Group Video Calling Coming to Android, iOS, and Windows 10 Mobile

Skype Group Video Calling Coming to Android, iOS, and Windows 10 Mobile

Marking its 10-year anniversary, Microsoft’s Skype team on Tuesday announced that it has introduced the group video calling feature to everyone on Android, iOS, and Windows 10 Mobile. Skype already supported group video calls but only for those who opted for Skype for Business. The feature is now available to non-subscribers as well.

The feature can be used free of cost and will be rolled out to users in the ‘coming weeks’. However, for those who want to preview the group calling feature, they can sign-up by submitting some details.

The Skype group video calling service lets up to 25 users share a video call on desktop. However, the popular VoIP service is not the only one sporting such kind of feature. Rival apps such as GoogleHangouts also supports group video calling for up to 10 users. Line (with Popcorn Buzz), Viber, WeChat, and other popular chatting apps also have the feature. Hike in September last year introduced group audio calling feature, letting up to 100 people to talk to each other in a group call. Other popular chatting applications such as FaceTime and Facebook Messenger are yet to receive the feature.

Gurdeep Pall Singh, the Global Corporate Vice President of Skype in the company blog post added that in 10 years Skype users have generated nearly 2 trillion minutes of free Skype video calls. “In fact, with that amount of time, you can use Skype to read to every child in the world for 10 hours, every family can be together over Skype for more than 7 hours and there’s still time left for the entire world’s workforce to have an hour-long interview via Skype,” he said.

[“Source-Gadgets”]

Half full, half empty: 10 years of NREGA

Half full, half empty: 10 years of NREGA
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Workers from a dalit hamlet in Tamil Nadu’s Villipuram district building a road to a cremation ground on the outskirts of the village as part of the rural jobs programme, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. As many as 86% of NREGA workers in Tamil Nadu are women.

The fruits of a people’s movement and the world’s largest anti-poverty public works, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act last year provided employment to 22% of all rural homes.

At its peak five years ago, it was a lifeline for 55 million, or one in every three rural homes.

But it has yet to expand to its full potential. Up to 70% of interested poor households did not receive any NREGA work between 2004-’05 and 2011-’12, reports the India Human Development Survey 2.

Unemployment allowance, stipulated in the law, has also rarely been paid as a substitute. Nevertheless, for recipient families, 32% of their poverty decline comes from NREGA alone, according to IHDS2.

Why NREGA is currently not an effective drought-relief measure

Under the law, promulgated in 2005, each household is guaranteed 100 days of work every year. But, on average, each NREGA household received only 45 days of work over the last decade – less than half the guarantee.

The lowest average was last year: 38 days. Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal clocked in even less.

So, it is ironic that recently the Central government has expanded the guarantee to 150 days of work in 14 drought-affected states. Odisha further increased the cap to 200 days.

But this does not work as a drought-relief measure, as only 4% of employed households hit the 100-day mark last year. At its peak, too, only 14% have ever received 100 days of work. Worse, the total nationwide person-days–a measure of NREGA employment–almost halved in 2014-’15 (1.49 billion), compared to its peak five years ago (2.84 billion).

The law also stipulates that wages are to be paid within 15 days. Last year, 72% of wages were delayed. This year, no more than 45% of wages have been paid on time. In the midst of a drought, villagers who survive hand-to-mouth cannot afford to wait. Compensation for delayed payment is also rare.

In several states, such as Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan, NREGA wages are lower than the minimum wages for unskilled agricultural work, which makes it difficult to attract workers, especially the youth, who often prefer to migrate to urban areas. Yet, this safety net has bolstered their bargaining power even on distant shores, as scores of Bihari migrants will testify.

NREGA especially helps women, dalits and tribals

“Earlier, we had never seen Rs 500 notes; now we have more than Rs 7,000 to Rs 8,000 as our bank balance,” Sunil Munda, an adivasi from Sanramlai village in eastern Odisha recounted six years ago. “Now, if we have malaria, we can take an auto and go to the hospital for treatment. Earlier, if herbs didn’t work, we knew we would be dead. We hadn’t seen the doors of the hospital.”

On a more positive front, 40% of households employed under the law are impoverished dalits and adivasis, even without any explicit targeting. The IDHS2 attributes 38% and 28% of reduction in poverty in employed dalit and adivasi (tribal) homes, respectively, to NREGA alone.

As importantly, in India’s patriarchal society, the NREGA has emerged as a torchbearer for women’s empowerment. As many as 55% NREGA workers in 2014-15 were women, and their participation has soared 38% over the last decade.

Predictably (since they are states with high female literacy and social emancipation), Kerala and Tamil Nadu top the charts, with as many as 92% and 86% of NREGA workers being women.

Even before the Jan Dhan Yojana, the NREGA had opened 100 million bank accounts, often used by women for their wages, often for the first time, and on par with men.

Note: In 2006-7 NREGA was applicable in only 200 backward districts, in 2007-08, it was extended to 330 districts, and, from 2008-09, implemented across India.
Note: In 2006-7 NREGA was applicable in only 200 backward districts, in 2007-08, it was extended to 330 districts, and, from 2008-09, implemented across India.
Source: NREGA
Source: NREGA

There has also been much hand-wringing about the quality of NREGA work. A deeper look reveals that 28% of works, even in 2013-14, were to improve rural sanitation, even before the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Another 30% were for water conservation, flood control, drought proofing and micro-irrigation.

More than half the works were “green jobs” directly related to improving agricultural productivity.

For example, the Institute for Human Development shows a high completion rate, with a 6% rate of return for about 100,000 wells sanctioned in Jharkhand.

Source: NREGA
Source: NREGA

The Maharashtra government’s Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan to make 5,000 villages drought-free also depends on the NREGA. In another ingenious initiative, Tamil Nadu has employed60,000 Thuimai Kavalars (sanitation workers) under NREGA across three-fourth of villages. In Karnataka, NREGA workers have even been employed to manufacture environment-friendly earthen bricks. These tasks are a far cry from digging and filling trenches.

And so, to the next decade

Despite the Prime Minister’s mockery of the lifeline in Parliament last year, the Bharatiya Janata Party, at the 10th anniversary celebration of NREGA, hailed it as the nation’s “pride”.

Workers at an urban employment guarantee worksite in a slum of Tripura’s capital, Agartala. With the tide turning in favour of the state’s pilot urban-jobs programme, an argument is being made for its nationwide replication.

Workers at an urban employment guarantee worksite in a slum of Tripura’s capital, Agartala. With the tide turning in favour of the state’s pilot urban-jobs programme, an argument is being made for its nationwide replication.
Workers at an urban employment guarantee worksite in a slum of Tripura’s capital, Agartala. With the tide turning in favour of the state’s pilot urban-jobs programme, an argument is being made for its nationwide replication.

Tripura is the only state to offer urban dwellers guaranteed employment. With the tide turning, the clamour has now begun for its nationwide replication.

The next decade holds much promise for the right to work.

[“source-Scroll”]