Time flies when you're having fun – or compulsively updating Twitter. Here's a bunch of technologies that have truly emerged in just the last year. Before then, they were just the figment of some venture capitalist's imagination or used exclusively by teenage bloggers who rarely go outside.
1. Spoken search on smartphones
Google started it with its
Google Mobile App. Now, GPS apps such as TeleNav GPS Navigator support it. The idea: you can now speak your search term and have the app find your term (or find the GPS location). With the Google app on iPhone, there's an interesting trick that uses the accelerometer: when you start the app, you don't have to click anything. As soon as you raise the phone to your mouth, you can just speak the term and Google will then perform the search.
2. HD pocket camcorders
The Flip started it all, allowing goofy skateboard punks to record their antics and post them on YouTube, even if low-cost digicams have existed for eons. And now with devices like the Samsung U10, we've got full 1080p shooting in our pockets. YouTube is obviously to blame, along with a growing desire for the socially awkward to share their awkwardness.
3. Web-connected netbook OS
Netbooks have gained huge amounts of popularity over the last two years, trumping notebook sales. What's new is the emergence of netbook operating systems that connect to the web, including Moblin, JoliCloud, and the forthcoming Google Chrome OS. These OSes include links to Web apps, but are also more "web-aware" in that they provide a quick way to update your Twitter status, share photos, hold an IM session, and access a more modern browser that is included with the netbook OS.
4. Location-sharing on iPhone
GPS devices such as the Dash, and services such as Google Latitude, have shared location data for more than a year. But now Navigon has released an app for the iPhone (version 3.5) that allows you to share not only your location, but to send that location to another user, who can then add you to a map and get direction to find you. Might seem a little stalker-ish, but it's a smart idea for friends.
5. Pop-ups on your HDTV
Samsung, LG Electronics and others have released HDTV sets that show you Yahoo-powered widgets on the screen, providing weather info, Twitter and Facebook status updates, and links to web content. It's a meld between digital media adapters – such as the Apple TV – and an Internet connection on the HD itself. Previewed at last August's IDF, the concept truly saw the light of day at this year's CES, though it's still unclear whether people want interruptions during the latest Mad Men. Read 5 Future widget TV innovations for more.
6. Wi-Fi rolling out properly in the air
Experimented with by some and a long time in gestation, Wi-Fi is finally rolling out - even if it's only US carriers who are currently adapting it in gusto. Southwest Airlines has run tests this year and will deploy next, while Delta already has Wi-Fi on about 70 per cent of its airplanes, though speeds are reported to be unimpressive.
7. Video sharing from your mobile
Micro-blogging, life-streaming, and living in your parent's basement are all ideas that have existed for some time. A new service, called Qik (www.qik.com), changes the rules slightly. The site went live in the last year, and allows you to stream live video from just about any smartphone, and snap photos that appear instantly at the site, without the usual five minute wait so common with Flickr uploads.
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