20 tiny tech advances that would make 2014 awesome

20 tiny tech advances that would make 2014 awesome
Stop pretending you know me, Google!

We cheered. We literally stood up and applauded the anonymous bosses of the USB consortium, when it was announced that a future version of the ubiquitous connector would be able to be plugged in both ways around.

This will solve the problem of going to plug something in, thinking it's the wrong way round, turning it round, still failing to plug it in, then turning it back to the way it was and... yes. It goes in now. Very funny.

But what else needs fixing? What other tiny annoyances could the tech gods of our world solve in 2014, were they to just have a little meeting with themselves and end some small forms of modern technological suffering?

1. Stop phones connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots

Hooray, we have a Wi-Fi connection! But wait. It's a dead one. It wants a password we don't have or money we'd rather not spend for the convenience of seeing that we haven't got any emails. Why did you connect to it, stupid phone? You know where we live because you track my every move, so why have you connected to nextdoor's Wi-Fi when we are at our GPS-confirmed actual home, and every single day we manually disconnect you from nextdoor's Wi-Fi?

2. Longer USB leads

The EU needs to mandate a minimum length of USB cable, one that's at least 33% longer than today's. It never quite reaches from the plug to the bed without having to do an awkward lean. We'll all grow up lopsided from twisting our bodies toward power sockets, like technological sunflowers. The 3 in USB 3.0 isn't supposed to mean 'feet long', is it? If so, hurry up and roll out USB 6.0.

3. Stop reminding us about missed messages


Okay, we get it

If you've told us once we have a voicemail, we will remember that. We're probably not listening to it on purpose, because we don't want to hear it and are scared about what it might say, or frightened that it might mean we have to talk to someone about a grown-up matter perhaps involving money or hiring a tradesman. So you reminding us of it by sending me endless texts about it only serves to raise our stress levels and makes us less likely to ever read it.

Just leave us alone, stupid phone. We bought you because you look nice and can go on the internet and was technically slightly better than everyone else's at time of purchase, not because we want to talk to people.

4. Make it obvious where downloads are

Some sort of arrow or flashing icon system ought to appear in computers, so that the PDF it decided to dump in some random hole on the hard drive is easily discoverable. How many times have we downloaded something twice, simply because the effort of finding the first version of the thing is too much? And that's on desktop computers. Multiply the suffering by 100 should you want to work out where LG decides to put things when you download an MP3 on your phone.

5. Autocorrect that's not an embarrassment

Substituting the word "penis" in a conversation with relatives should never be a thing we have to explain. Apps like SwiftKey have the right idea, in that they scan genuine conversations for the likelihood we're about to use certain words, but even in the very latest Android 4.4 code we see some baffling wrong-word suggestions. Daily. Every time we type anything, in fact. Penis.

4. Washing machines with just a STOP/GO button

washing machine

One button, that's all we ask

All they do is go round and round, what difference can all the settings really make? They seem to just make it take longer. Surely a smart washer could sense by weight or light wavelength what sort of stuff is in it, then sort the settings automatically? If it detects the thick fibres of heavy man clothes, give them a five-minute rinse. If it's fiddly and lightweight woman clothes in there, delicately swill them about for nine hours as if savouring a particularly fine sherry. Can't be hard to implement that sort of thing.