2011 technology wish list (Feature)
By Jay Dougherty Dec 31, 2010, 2:06 GMT
Washington - A new year rolls in. A new opportunity arises to make wishes for the future. And in the world of technology, there's plenty to wish for. Despite the great gadgets introduced in the recent past - iPad, Android, Windows 7, smartphones, and more - there's room for improvement in almost every corner of technology today. Need proof? See how many of these technology wish list items would find a place on your own tech wish list for 2011.
--- Sanity in advertising
Advertising on the internet has got out of control, and in 2011 let's hope some sanity settles in. There's no doubt that internet content providers struggle to make money using a medium through which users want and expect to get information for free. Most providers have turned to advertising as the solution.
Unfortunately, ads are now too often ruining the internet experience. Full-page ads that block you from content, floating ads that obscure what you're trying to read, and ads that gray out information shortly after you begin reading are just a few of the annoying advertising models adopted over the past year. There has to be a reasonable alternative, and in 2011 content providers need to search for it, lest they lose their users to frustration.
--- A search engine for sites with no ads
If we can't hope for an end to ad overload in 2011, at least we could wish for a new search engine that culls ad-free sites from the rest and presents us with only those sites in our search results.
Put this wish list item in the category of 'why hasn't anyone thought of it before.' It's already possible for web crawling spiders to distinguish sites with ads from those without them. And the fact that there's still a healthy universe of websites that adhere to the original concept of the internet - noncommercial information sharing - means that such a search engine would have plenty of sites in its database to attract users. The existence of such a search engine just might be a wakeup call, too, to those sites that have become overrun with ads - and thus almost unusable.
--- More sites that are mobile-friendly
Most smartphones allow you to surf the web. There's just one problem: doing so on a smartphone is a test of one's patience. Websites could solve this problem by offering up mobile-ready versions that are optimised for smartphones.
To be sure, some already do. Check out mStart.mobi (http://mstart.mobi), for instance - a search engine designed to serve up only those sites that are designed to be viewed on a mobile phone. Unfortunately, you probably won't find very many of your favourite sites among the offerings. That needs to change, especially since the growth of smartphones is set to explode, with recent studies suggesting that a half a billion smartphones will be sold in 2011 alone.
--- Cheaper SSDs
Solid State Disks (SSDs) remove one of the biggest performance bottlenecks in desktop and notebook computers today - the traditional hard drive. Instead of rotating magnetic platters, SSDs store data on special memory chips, and they can serve up information many times more rapidly than can traditional hard drives. But SSDs are also many times more expensive than regular hard drives. In 2011, prices should start coming down significantly, however, as larger-capacity SSDs push down prices of today's lower capacity models. Here's to hoping they do - and fast.
--- Free hotspots
Wireless internet hotspots - which allow you to access the internet wirelessly while away from home - are widely available these days. They're in airports, coffee shops, and even on trains and airplanes. The problem: too often, these hotspots are only available for a fee, and unless you're desperate to surf the net or send an e-mail message, the fee is usually too high to warrant paying it.
Of course, businesses that offer hotspots have to pay for internet access themselves, so they have a right to charge customers if they wish. Regardless of cost, though, more businesses are seeing the wisdom of offering wireless hotspots for free: free wireless gives businesses a competitive advantage over those that do not offer free wireless, and a gratis hotspot can engender customer loyalty and goodwill - two valuable commodities. Hopefully the trend of free hotspots will grow in 2011.
--- Death of the ribbon bar
For every person who loves the ribbon bar that has replaced the traditional menus in Microsoft's Office 2007 and 2010, there seem to be 10 people who loathe it. Those who like it tend to be new users, or people who never spent much time in Office before. Those who hate it are everyone else.
Ribbon bar haters may one day be persuaded of the superiority of the ribbon bar, but for now, most of them really just want the option to return to traditional menus. Microsoft refuses to provide that option. To make matters worse, many other software vendors are starting to follow Microsoft's lead and introduce ribbon bars of their own, again with no option to return to traditional menus. Let's hope 2011 brings back choice. After all, billions of people grew up using applications that featured File, Edit, and View menus. Why make them learn a new way of performing familiar tasks?
--- Have a wish-list item of your own? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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