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What to expect in 2013 from tech giants

The pace at which tech companies are innovating and changing the way we view the world has never been faster. In 2012 it never felt like the tech giants forgot to take a single day off.

Apple released the once mythical iPad mini. Google announced Project Glass, an augmented reality head-mounted display. Instagram made every smartphone user feel like a professional photographer, and then sold for a billion dollars. Apple and Google sued each other (or related companies) enough times to make even Judge Judy cringe. Microsoft launched Windows 8 and the Surface. Facebook crossed one billion users, held it’s IPO and learned how cruel the stock market can be. Twitter made drastic changes to its platform and found itself being used as the main method of communication during revolutions all over the world. 

The list can, and does, go on and on. It’s an exciting time to be part of the tech industry, especially when it’s your job t cover the latest news. 

With 2012 now behind us, what should we expect in 2013? That’s a tough question, but an expected an inevitable one. 

Below, I’ve rounded up some of my predictions for the tech industry in 2013. There’s both educated guesses and complete shots in the dark mixed throughout, so take it all with a grain of salt. 

Google

Early in the year, Google will begin shipping its Project Glass developer kits to those developers who were lucky enough to sign up (and shell over $1,500) to be one of the first public users of the futuristic gadget. More or less a pair of glasses, save for one lens, Project Glass aims to replace a cellphone with a head-mounted display complete with a cellular connection. E-mails, text messages, navigation, voice calls, video calls and many more common tasks we’ve come to expect from our smartphones will be available at a glance — literally. Getting Project Glass into the real world and out of the labs will be a huge step towards a retail launch, currently expected in 2014. 

As for Android, Google’s mobile platform, we should see Google continue to refine the design and overall look of the operating system (OS) — adding key features along the way. Over 2012 we watched, as the OS was refined and performance increased. Look for this trend to continue in 2013, especially with the likes of Matias Duarte (formerly in charge of Palm’s webOS) at the helm of Android. 

Apple

Apple will continue to integrate iOS and OS X features into one-another. Creating a unified, but not singular, user experience. Apple offers the best app ecosystem, and arguably the best feature ecosystem, when it comes to using multiple devices across the platform. 

iOS 7 should be released towards the end of the year with a few new features, and more subtle tweaks to the overall look and feel of the OS. With Jony Ive having recently been put in charge over the overall design of iOS, the changes may end up being more than just subtle; but it’s unclear how soon his design impact will be felt in iOS. 

Mac OS X 10.9 will more than likely be previewed in the first quarter, with release this summer. Small refinements, better iCloud integration (perhaps a Dropbox-like system) and possibly even Siri could all show up in the next released. 

I don’t see Apple releasing an entire TV set, as its been rumored for awhile now, but I do see the current Apple TV platform seeing the introduction of apps, paving the way for a much larger product down the road. 

Of course we’ll see a new iPhone along with a new iPad and iPad mini at some point, but with the latest release cycle it’s anyone’s guess as to when that will happen. 

Amazon

Amazon continues to innovate when it comes to tablets and eReaders. The Kindle line is still successful, even with the likes of the iPad holding the majority of overall market share. The Kindle Fire line actually sells for less than what it costs Amazon to have it manufactured (it makes money from you buying content, not from equipment). Look for Amazon to continue this trend with new hardware, more content partnerships. 

There’s been speculation Amazon will be releasing a Kindle phone of some sort. 2013 just might be the year it happens. Look for more Kindles, maybe a phone, and a larger Amazon Instant Video catalog as it continues efforts to compete with Netflix. 

Facebook

Advertising.

It’s how Facebook makes money, by selling your eyeballs to advertisers. This won’t change in 2013, in fact it will become more aggressive. Expect to see more ads when using the Facebook mobile apps, and yes, even in Instagram. 

As with Amazon, rumors of a Facebook phone have been circling the Internet like a good meme for the better part of two years now. Will it happen in 2013? No one but Facebook can say, but ask yourself how many Facebook apps you have installed right now if you’re using a smartphone. It sure looks like we might be being prepped to use a Facebook phone sooner than later. 

BlackBerry 10

Research In Motion, the makers of the once popular BlackBerry platform will launch BlackBerry 10, its latest operating system for smartphones on January 30th. A lot of hope and hype has been put into the impending release. If you’re still holding onto your BlackBerry 9930, waiting for something better from the Canadian company, you just might get it this year.

Trends

I think in 2013 we are going to see an even bigger push for at-home 3D printing solutions. 3D printers, and the blueprints for items to be printed, are getting cheaper and smaller by the day.  It won’t be long until we are able to repair broken products by downloading the proper 3D files and printing a replacement part from the comfort of our own home.

Another big push will be for more health-conscious smartphone accessories. Items such as FitBit, Nike+ FuelBand and the Jawbone UP are all going to continue to grow. Other solutions such as the MyBasis watch will finally see release in 2013, hoping to have an impact on the health market. 

There’s a lot to be excited about in 2013 when it comes to tech. The best, or possibly the worst, thing about tech is that it all changes so fast. The rumors and speculation are always a step behind. The Facebook or Amazon phone may never happen, but then again, it may just happen this year. Only time will tell.

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