20 tiny tech advances that would make 2014 awesome

We shouldn't have to squint at meaningless stuff like "H - Non-Fast Coloureds" all the time. And why do some machines have save water buttons? If you can save water, save water all the time on your own. And generally be quicker. The weather's getting less predictable so we have less available drying time nowadays.

7. Standardise game controller "invert" options

All it would take is a meeting between Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. They could all agree on which way is up and which way is down, then give everyone an account that synchronises options across platforms. Then, we'd never have to remember whether we play games with controls set to normal or inverted, nor would we have to wade through options before playing every single game we are tricked into thinking might be fun to own and play.

Failing that, make inversion setting the first thing that happens. Before the opening cut-scene. Before the menu. Before the logos. Maybe even sell "inverted" and "non-inverted" versions of each game. It's that important to our continued mental wellbeing.

8. Batteries 2.0


More juice needed

There needs to be a "Moore's Law" for batteries. They haven't got better for decades. Radios from the 1970s still run on the same tech we use today. Can't there be nuclear batteries? Graphene batteries? Even a battery that runs on diesel would be better, as at least we could then refill them instead of having to wait for a charge. Yes, we're working them harder than ever before, but battery makers have been resting on their laurels for years. We need... more... power.

9. Ban auto-playing video on websites

It never used to happen. Then it started happening and everyone went mad about it, so it stopped. But now, now there seems to be a second-wave of desperate monetisation going on out there in internet land, auto-playing videos are starting to appear again. Vine has the right idea in muting the volume when clips auto-play themselves, but it still feels like a special kind of privacy-invasion whenever it happens.

10. Screens that don't rotate when you lie down

Yes, yes, there's a toggle in Android that lets you turn this off and seize manual rotational control like you're docking with the ISS, but phones are more clever than this and it's silly blanket banning your phone from ever going sideways. Phones need to be aware of what's really happening instead of just pretending they have the faintest clue.

If it's dark, early, late, and our faces look rough, or the accelerometer has just felt us flump down on something soft, we're probably in bed or sideways on the sofa trying to focus on the EPG. So be a bit more generous on the angles of lean before you whack it into landscape mode. And if we angrily flip the phone up to get it back to portrait orientation as soon as it rotates, bloody well learn from that and don't do it again four seconds later.

11. Stop asking us if we'd like to use your app


We just want the internet

If we wanted to install the Daily Mail app, we'd install it. All we've done is follow a link someone posted on Twitter so see what today's fuss is about, so there's really no need to ask if we'd like to install the app before looking at the page. It's yet another intrusive form of advertising, only the sites we're trying to give our custom to are advertising their own tatty apps.

12. No more restarting to update Windows

We've probably already delayed the installation process for days because it's rather annoying, so why the rush to restart the computer to "finish" updates? Let it happen naturally, the next time we turn the computer off or, more likely, the next time there's a power-cut and we have no option but to momentarily step away from our umbilical connections to the internet. Or make it so it just happens without any reboots. That's what Steve Jobs would've demanded.