3 mobile tech advances that would be great in 2014

3 mobile tech advances that would be great in 2014

Summary: Next year could be a great year in mobile tech if these advances become reality.

Tech advances in 2014 (Image: James Kendrick/ZDNet)

It's time to put 2013 behind us and look forward to next year. Call these predictions, wishes, or guesses, but these three mobile tech advances would be nice to see in 2014.

iPad bump

Apple's been accused of just incrementally improving the iPad for a few years, even though the iPad Air's weight loss was impressive in 2013. What I'd like to see in 2014 is a major push forward, with a surprising big technology jump.

One such jump that would be impressive is an improvement in battery technology. Imagine an iPad Air with double its already good battery life. This is feasible as Apple has a solid track record of putting decent battery life in the iPad, even while improving performance. An iPad Air with 20+ hours on a charge while keeping the size of the current tablet from Apple would be a major bump.

Windows RT improvement

Windows 8 is a solid OS for tablets, but Windows RT with its restriction against installing legacy apps is lagging behind. This is unfortunate, as tablets based on ARM technology have a lot to offer to the Windows tablet space.

Wouldn't it be nice if Microsoft or a third party developer produced a Windows 8 app that allowed installing a single legacy app in an environment that could be distributed through the app store? It would kind of wrap that legacy app up in a Metro bubble. That would allow legacy apps to be installed on Windows RT, opening that up to a broader audience.

This would be good for Windows 8, too, as it would allow running legacy apps on the Metro side of things. Legacy apps would be just like Windows 8 apps, and that would make things seamless.

I would think this is technically feasible with enough bright minds behind it, maybe we could see this in 2014. It would be an important advancement in this writer's opinion.

Android BlackBerry phones and tablets

BlackBerry has been on the ropes for a while, and not even its BB10 OS could get it back in the fight. It's been suggested that the company's products might do better if Android devices were part of the product line, and this writer hopes we see that in 2014.

BlackBerry hardware has always been first-rate, so putting the most popular mobile OS on it would be a good fit. A Playbook tablet with Android KitKat would frankly be awesome, and consumers might snap them up. The same could be said for phones, with a good BlackBerry handset running Android.

The company could produce good apps to take advantage of Android while adding value for buyers so it would be a win-win all around.

What do you think?

These are the things I'd like to see appear in 2014 but your wishes may be different. Leave a comment in the section below with the advancements you'd like to see, and why. Maybe together we can catch the attention of those in a position to make them happen.

Topics: Mobility, iPad, Laptops, Tablets, Windows 8

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  • The big problem for MS with legacy applications

    Is the need to emulate an x86 CPU, with all its quirks, inefficiencies, and just all round poor design.

    Can it be done? sure. Not an issue.

    Would it be usable from a performance perspective? Nope.

    ARM CPUs would have be nearly 4 times as fast as they are now.
    • Huh?

      All around poor design? These aren't your momma's x86 chips. Intel and AMD converted much of the architecture to RISC based years ago and they've reduced the pathways while boosting FPU, and reducing power consumption for years now.

      ARMs biggest strength is the power savings but, even the nest ARM CPUs can only match the new Intel Atom CPU in performance... They get pounded heavily by Core I series CPUs and adding a separate GPU to the mix makes it a blow out.
      • Incorrect...

        Intel *tried* to move to a RISC-based architecture (ala Itanium) as its 64-bit move; result = epic fail on the consumer PC side. AMD hit the nail on the head with its design that wrapped the 32-bit legacy CISC instructions inside the new 64-bit wide instruction/register/addressing space: result = full compatibility with "legacy" Intel 32-bit CISC apps; Intel ended up licensing AMD's tech. The downside? The 32-bit apps run slower on 64-bit hardware vs. comparable 32-bit hardware (i.e., same clock speed, cache size, etc.).
    • You don't need to emulate anything.

      They could easily just require you to recompile the application for the arm architecture. Jailbroken windows 8.0 devices can run recompiled software just fine. Trying to run an x86 emulator on an arm processor probably wouldn't work that well anyway.
      Sam Wagner
      • I'm guessing you have NEVER developed anything in your life

        Anybody who thinks that you can just recompile code for a completely different platform (with a different endian) is completely illiterate about how software works.
      • Baytrail is easier

        ARMs processors have their place but I am just not sure if a Windows tablet is it. Baytrail and future Intel x86 processors have achieved both power conservation and lower price point to make ARMs chips in Win devices pointless to a degree.

        The big security feature ARMs offers over x86 is obscurity of viruses, no way to include that in x86. But RT is also locked down via DRM, there is no reason a x86 cannot be locked down in the same way. But this would require MS to expand the App Store to include desktop apps that are signed. Freeware apps are getting so ladden with crap/mal/spyware that I simply do not trust to install them any longer anyway. Personally I like the app store model in that it provides a centralized clearing house and update center. Linux distros have used this model for years very well.
        Rann Xeroxx

      First of all you cant emulate, ARM CPUs are not complex as X86. So there. shut it
  • Allow apps install outside the store

    This is a message for Microsoft and Apple: on Windows Phone, Windows RT and iOS devices it would be nice to be able to give apps to people without paying a fee to a store. I find that quite annoying to rely on a worldwide store to give apps to a few people.

    That is what is basically stopping me from becoming a mobile OSes developer.
    • hmm

      Jailbreak it?
      • Not a good idea

        Updates stop and warranty probably over. No thanks. And I don't want to do it on my own devices, I'm not going to tell people to jailbreak their devices to install my apps...
    • That hasn't worked out the best for android.

      Look at the massive pirating problem android developers have. I like openness in general, but I also want developers who work hard to get their pay as well.
      Sam Wagner
    • Sideloading apps on Win 8.1 is easy.

      I do it all the time. It doesn't require Jailbreaking or any of that nonsense.

      However, I usually only distribute those to friends, family and beta testers. At $19 per year for store registration, it really is a moot point. If $19 is keeping you from becoming a mobile OS developer, well.......maybe you shouldn't be a mobile OS developer.
  • BB with android?

    "BlackBerry hardware has always been first-rate, so putting the most popular mobile OS on it would be a good fit."

    Change Blackberry to HTC and you have the exact same sentence. How much money is HTC making these days? Other than Samsung, what other manufacturers are making money with android?
  • Windows RT...

    Why does everyone say we need legacy apps on WinRT? You already have Win8 with Haswell chips for that. No one is asking for Mac apps on ipad's...

    That's just such a ridiculous request, why do I need a Windows 7 app on a tablet OS. What you need are more Metro apps on WinRT! Oh and by the way, Metro apps run on WinRT and full Win8... Hello is anyone listening? Metro apps run on both architectures...that's the future of Windows.

    Stop looking in the rear view mirror...
    • Agree 100%

      It is a new platform. People should use the apps developed for it. End of story.

      You want legacy support?? The buy/use something else.
    • Because...

      "Why does everyone say we need legacy apps on WinRT?"

      I could give you lots of reasons. Marketing was confusing for one. In places like Best Buy, the Surface RT with its 16:9 aspec and keyboards looks just like a Windows notebook. Especially when it's sitting next to the Surface Pro. Both looks identical at a glance. Consumers in the market for an iPad is not going to consider something resembling a notebook. That's why people feel it needs legacy Windows apps to survive, it failed at being an iPad competitor. It failed at standing on its own merit as a tablet/slate device.

      No one is looking for OS X apps on the iPad because Apple's marketing from day one was clear. It's something that sits between a notebook and a smart phone. 'If it doesn't do certain functions better or more enjoyable than on a desktop PC (photo, mail, web, casual games....) then there is no reason being'. It doesn't have a OSX desktop mode because it's a tablet/slate device, not a desktop PC.
      • Agree with you with regard to marketing but...

        Microsoft is the worst, THE WORST when it comes to marketing to the consumers. Many of their ads are cringe worthy, and I am not even talking about the dancing morons ads. As of late they have gotten better with the comparison ads, use case ads, etc. Of course then they muck it up with the ones that showcase features from both Surface RT and Pro lines together but do not distinguish between the two. Even naming all their products "Windows" and now "XBox", god Microsoft, just build reputations around new products.

        With that said, RT does not need legacy apps. What RT does need is to get all the settings into Metro settings menus and the menus need to be enhanced with a lot more "advanced" pull downs. Personally I would not completely do away with the desktop, just hide it well so that you have to do something like three steps to get it back. Personally I like the desktop on RT as I like to fiddle with my tech and hop in the registry, local group policies, and other settings. This gives a bone to people like us but hides it from the masses.

        And Windows "Threshold", the code name for the next Windows iteration, is rumored to have floating Metro "windows" on the desktop to run Metro apps and possibly desktop apps in Metro snap panes. This will allow greater adoption of Metro apps for full desktop users and expand the App Store while also getting desktop users to use the Metro environment more so that later the desktop can be removed.
        Rann Xeroxx
    • Because the current RT apps are terrible

      This is not some trite subjective fanboy proclaimation, this is just plain true. Even the most die-hard Microsoft fanboy would agree that apps in the Windows Marketplace are clunky, difficult to move through and often times don't exist at all.

      And please, for the love of all things, change RT tablets to be 4:3. Why is it only Apple can see this is the best physical form?
      A Gray
  • only one out of three... well really none out of three.

    One Apple wont do a major improvement even if they could which I doubt.
    Two, there is not a snowballs chance BB will benefit from Android in any way.
    ARM is still a bit weak for virtualizing x86 apps but there is a way it could be done if they were precompiled so to speak. Lets say you used binary translation for the virtualization. If you pre-translated the app and installed it in that form you might achieve adequate performance. That would require doing the same with all the necessary libraries or otherwise implementing native virtualizations for them. It would require a large footprint. You'd probably be better off running them as virtualized x86 apps in the cloud offered as a modest fee service.

    However, what practical advantage is to be gained from running legacy apps? Really what is your hang up with this idea? you should be regularly complaining about running OSX apps on iPad or Linux apps on Android. Perhaps some serious couch time will clear this up.
  • Well, in respect to running Windows Legacy Applications on Windows RT

    here is my comment.
    0. We are going back to desktop app to run these applications and it will be PITA for the solid UX that Modern UI provides for finger friendly navigation.
    1. If the application is developed using .NET, it will be easy and performance may not suffer. If Microsoft provides a guidance around it, it will be easy for developers to do that.
    2. If the application is developed using unmanaged frameworks such as C++ and prior, it will be definitely an issue like others mentioned and performance will be an issue. Like previous posters mentioned, if you want to run legacy apps, why not get a haswell/baytrail based Windows 8 Tablet!

    Just my two cents.
    Ram U