As we’re finally done dipping our feet towards 2018, let’s look at some of the big plans of well-known major players in the tech industry. Here are just some of what to look forward to from the biggest tech brands across the globe.
Google has grown to be much more than just a search engine. It has expanded its product and research to several technologies. Here are some of the changes and projects we expect Google to do this 2018.
Google continues to improve its roots in search engine optimization with expected changes this year. One of the changes would be adding more emphasis on RankBrain, an algorithm update. RankBrain stemmed from Google’s advancements in machine learning which enables better interpretation of queries and precise matching with relevant page content. With processes of 63,000 searches per second, RankBrain will prove to be significant this year.
The popular tech firm would also focus on Accelerate Mobile Pages or AMP. It is an open-source initiative that allows publishers to produce mobile-friendly content once and have it instantly load everywhere. Users searching on their mobile devices will be immediately directed to relevant pages and businesses can create smooth and fast-loading websites. This result will need marketers to be familiar with AMP so as to generate better websites and more online presence.
Google will also continue to provide relevant search results using real-time integrated penalty filters. This filter is incorporated in the latest update of Penguin, Google’s real-time filter within the search algorithm. This initiative eliminates spam websites in real-time.
Google recently reported that sites should start to use HTTPS instead of HTTP for better website security. This change comes with an incentive of a minor boost to a website’s search ranking. However, according to recent tests, the boost will not be more than 1%. Google plans to further increase the added rank boost so as to encourage websites to switch to HTTPS.
Google plans on adding new features to Gmail. The popular email service is already testing features to make Gmail faster, and dynamic using the AMP technology. The main plan is to make email pages automatically update. An example of this new feature is users automatically seeing updates of flight information in a booking confirmation email. Gmail will first use this feature to bulk senders such as retailers, or magazine subscriptions. The new feature would allow recipients to see current sales regardless of when the email is opened. The feature will roll out later this year.
Human Reviewed Content
Reports say Google plans to employ 10,000 human content reviewers to moderate YouTube videos. This is a response to YouTube’s cut down on ads and after advertisers pulled out of YouTube due to last year’s issue of ads appearing next to terrorist videos and inappropriate videos of children. As a result, YouTube is striving to push for transparency and human review of content. YouTube will also start to release regular reports regarding data on flagged videos and the actions done by YouTube.
It was recently reported that Google is planning to build three underwater cables to be completed in 2019 in order to expand their cloud business. Subsea cables will be planted in different routes: Los Angeles to Chile, the US to Denmark and Ireland, and Hong Kong to Guam. These cables will make it possible for Google to deliver better cloud service experience. The servers can still provide good service performance even if a server in one region causes a problem.
As Facebook continues to become a widely-used social media platform, how does it intend to use its influence this 2018?
Streamlined News Feed
In early January, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on his account a message that would spell Facebook’s major plan for 2018. According to the post, Facebook wants to make “... sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.” This idea will result in a more streamlined news feed, thus cutting down on media, business, and public posts and allowing for more personal content from close family and friends. Zuckerberg says they expect users would spend less time on Facebook due to this change but they believe this is for the good of the community and their business in the long run.
On a later post, Zuckerberg says that Facebook will be making a series of updates regarding their initiative to streamline newsfeeds. The first step they took is to prioritize local news content on users’ newsfeed. The idea sprung from people telling Zuckerberg that they want more local news on their feeds. Facebook hopes to build a stronger community online and offline by exposing its users to more of its local news, thus increasing their community awareness. Facebook will start with the US and will continue to expand to more countries this year.
The widely used messaging app will also undergo some changes this year. Due to its popularity, stickers, emojis, and gifs will continue with the addition of new features emphasizing visual messaging for better interaction among users. Messenger will also push the idea of making the messaging app a platform for customer service for businesses. Due to its convenience for both businesses and customers, Messenger serves as the preferred method for consumers to reach businesses and vice versa according to a study by Nielson. As a result, Messenger will add advanced features and improve its messaging experiences for all businesses for a seamless and valuable customer engagement. This initiative helps Messenger transform into a business communication platform.
2017 saw the cultural and financial revival of Microsoft under new CEO Satya Nadella. As they continue to hold down their footing in the tech industry under a new leadership, what will 2018 hold for Microsoft?
After two Windows 10 updates last year, we are expecting another two upgrades for the OS. The first update is expected around March to June, during Spring time. The update might contain major improvements to Windows, Timeline, and Sets.
Xbox One X
Last November, Microsoft released Xbox One X leaping ahead of Sony and introducing a new version of a gaming console. However, no new games suitable for the console was ever introduced upon its release. As such, gamers will see new game releases for the Xbox One X, such as the Sea of Thieves released on March 20.
Microsoft will update the Office applications which will be released during the second half this year, while previews will ship mid-2018. Office 2019 includes the usual applications with the addition of servers such as Skype for Business and Exchange. Some new features include new and improved inking features, new formulas and charts for Excel and visual animation for PowerPoint. The update focuses on usability, IT manageability, and voice and security for server updates.
Blockchain-based digital ID
Earlier this year Microsoft joined ID2020, a nonprofit public-private partnership spreading awareness on the challenges faced by people living without identification. Using the technology, Microsoft aims to provide a legal form of identification for 1.1 billion people worldwide. The result is a prototype using Microsoft’s Azure and Accenture’s blockchain. It uses a fingerprint or iris scan to create and secure a legal ID. The ID can be accessed on a smartphone app for assistance at border crossings or access to basic services such as healthcare. The goal now is to spread this technology starting with refugees.
Microsoft uses advanced technology to help millions of lives with no IDs. Know more ways technology can make a difference.
IBM will start the year with reassigning over 30,000 workers and cutting down on 10,000 positions. With a workforce of 20% onshore staff, 20% nearshore staff, and 60% offshore staff, IBM aims to reduce employee costs and improve the bottom line. Despite working with a smaller staff, what are some of the big plans IBM has this year?
Why did IBM choose to hire more than half offshore staff? Read the benefits of IT outsourcing.
Early December last year, IBM launched the first line of its Power9 machines called “Newell” Power AC922, also previously known as “Witherspoon”, with two Power9 processors having up to 1TB of memory per socket using industry standard 64GB DDR4 RDIMM memory sticks. According to reports, IBM will also ship 128GB memory sticks in the second quarter of the year. This upgrade should boost Newell/Witherspoon’s memory capacity to 2TB per socket. Newell aims for data analytics, HPC simulation and modeling, and machine learning workloads.
Global Integrated Delivery
In a video during a recent team building, General Manager and VP in charge of service Diane Diggelmann says that IBM is the “backbone of the world’s economy.” This year IBM plans to make that happen by having “technology-run/practitioner-directed services” and a “simplified work environment where cross-functional delivery squads will have an end to end accountability for the delivery of their service” as a means to re-brand IBM. Although plans are a work-in-progress, IBM encourages their staff to be flexible with changes happening in the firm removing barriers and uniting as one. Also mentioned in the video is the news that IBM’s reorganization is nearly done. New local leadership and strategies will be announced in the first quarter. The video message ends with Diggelman saying, “I look forward to working with you this year as we continue our Globally Integrated Delivery journey with a strong start to 2018.”
Most of us most likely have not heard of the Chinese tech firm called Tencent. Despite its unknown presence in most parts of the world, Tencent is a giant tech company with a rich pool of investments including Snapchat, Spotify, Tesla and even Hollywood film and TV. Due to China’s state censorship, foreign competition was eliminated and Tencent has flourished in the world’s most populous digital market. Tencent’s success is thanks to three things: “its messaging app WeChat; the biggest mobile gaming franchise in the world; and an ecosystem built around its 1 billion users that apes many services offered by the Silicon Valley firms that do not operate in China.”
Apart from those already mentioned, they are also investors of a diverse range of enterprises. According to Jamie McEwan, an analyst at Enders, Tencent has been “... allowed to grow and massively diversify their business without the level of scrutiny or competition you might see in western countries.”
The question now is: what will this growing Chinese tech firm do next?
Content, Marketing, and Technology
In a video conference last November 2017, Tencent announced their plans for the year 2018. One big part of their plan is to expand into media content while consolidating their product technology capacity. This includes diverse high quality and star-studded television programs, and reality shows to appeal more to the youth. Tencent also plans on producing more content-driven documentaries and investing in production such as BBC’s Blue Planet II. Aside from these, the giant tech brand also plans on expanding into children’s programs, comics, and animation, fashion and live music streaming.
An example of this initiative is Tencent’s recent partnership with Lego. The partnership would create licensed videos, games, and other content for Chinese children. The partnership also includes showing Lego videos on Tencent’s platform and co-developing the Chinese version of Lego Life, a social networking platform. The unveiling of the first releases from the partnership might take place later this year.
In the same conference, Tencent introduced six marketing cooperation scenarios associated with Tencent IP content. Two of these scenarios are based on the large paying members of Tencent video. Tencent also presented how video ads can help advertisers to identify user profiles and consumption habits, finding target customers and sending relevant content to target customers thus optimizing marketing resource allocation.
According to Tencent Vice President and Tencent Penguin Pictures CEO Thirty Sun, “Nowadays, well-produced, publicly acclaimed and popular content is becoming the more competitiveness of the Chinese video industry. This is the core value that Tencent Video Platform will continue to promote and uphold.”
With countless of releases and innovations Apple made last year, how will Apple continue its lineup this 2018?
This 2018, Apple is rumored to unveil three iPhones. The first phone is said to be a follow-up to the iPhone X with the same 5.8-inch OLED display, design, and functions, but hopefully with a better battery. This is rumored to be accompanied by a 6.5-inch iPhone, which is something like an “iPhone X Plus.” Apple will also allegedly introduce a more affordable phone with a 6.1-inch iPhone with an LCD display, possibly called the iPhone 9. Prices might start at around $700. Lastly, plans for a new version of an iPhone SE might include a new design and color options and a new processor.
Overall, Apple is planning to further improve its functions and address issues encountered with previous models. For one, Apple is set to improve the back camera for its 2018 lineup. The phone brand also hopes to lower price ranges making it more affordable to midrange and low-end markets. Consumers can only know for sure until official announcements from Apple are released. Possible unveiling of the new iPhones may be some time around September 2018.
After the successful launch of the iPad Pro, and 9.7-inch iPad in 2017, Apple will keep the ball rolling with more iPad releases this year. A new series of iPads are being prepared that might adopt designs and functions from the iPhone X such as slimmer bezels, face ID, and the absence of a home button. This new line of iPads will include a faster processor, but will still have an LED display due to budget and technical constraints. Apple might also develop an Apple Pencil but reports of new features are still undisclosed. This 2018, we might also be expecting low-cost iPads with a rumored price of $259 for the 9.7-inch 32GB model. The release of new versions of the iPad might be around March and/or September 2018.
Due to the complaints received last 2016 with the MacBook Pro with TouchBar, Apple is expected to unveil a new user upgradeable Mac Pro with a USB-C Thunderbolt display. We might also see MacBook and MacBook Pro introduce 8th generation Kaby Lake Refresh chips, and possibly faster RAM and SSDs. As for the iMac, we might see an updated 21.5 and 27-inch machine with 8th-generation Coffee Lake chips from Intel. This upgrade is said to be 32% faster than its predecessors.
Plans for major features and additions for the iOS 12 were unfortunately delayed until 2019 due to bug risks. An example of a supposed update was a redesigned home screen for iPhone, iPad, and CarPlay. Instead of these, iOS12 will focus more on security and performance addressing issues from previous updates. The unveiling of the iOS12 might take place on June during the Worldwide Developer Conference.
Apple Watch Series 3
Apple might release a possible 4th generation Apple Watch along with a redesign. Rumors say the new Apple Watch might use micro-LED displays which allows a thinner and lighter display. The addition of sensors is also possible.
This year, we might finally see the AirPower, a wireless inductive charging mat designed to charge a handful of select Apple devices at the same time. AirPower will work with the iPhone X, iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, the AirPods, and the Apple Watch Series 3. However, there are no official announcements on the exact release date and price.
Airpods will also have their first update since its release in late 2016. Improvements are rumored to have better microphones and battery life, improved sound quality, wireless charging using the AirPower.
Samsung announced it’s targeting to sell 320 million smartphones this year according to a report from GizmoChina. This target is higher than their competitors Apple and Huawei with 200 million and 150 million phones sold per year, respectively. What does Samsung have in store for 2018 to be able to target such a big goal?
Samsung Galaxy S9
Samsung is also set to launch their new line of S series, the Samsung Galaxy S9, coupled with a Samsung Galaxy 9 Plus. The new series officially revealed last February 25 just a month after the release of the Galaxy A8 series. The S9’s features offers the same display design and size as Galaxy S8, and a glass coating that repels water off the screen. It also showcases an upgraded 10nm innards, a tough chassis, a new camera with varying aperture, and the ability to capture in super slow motion with 960fps. Consumer release date has already launched this March 16.
Before the S series, Samsung already began 2018 by releasing the Galaxy A8 and Galaxy A8 Plus. The new phone release reinvents the capacity and durability of mid-range phones. The two smartphone models feature design and battery life from the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, brand new chipsets (including a 6GB RAM for Galaxy A8 Plus), and dual front cameras giving an edge to the new Galaxy A series. However, despite being a mid-range phone, prices for the A8 and A8 Plus are a bit higher than its counterparts.
Last September 2017, news surfaced of Samsung’s plan to release a foldable smartphone this 2018. This somewhat radical idea has been going around since Samsung showcased a flexible display in 2013. Although Samsung is aiming to release the foldable smartphone this year, they are still solving several issues. As of date, no news of its official launch has been announced, so we’ll just have to wait and see.
Update: Samsung has recently confirmed that a Galaxy Note 9 is set to be released this year. Speculations say that this might be a "radical" smartphone due to its design. The display might feature a fingerprint scanner that was supposedly integrated with the S8 and S9 but ran out of time.
Samsung QLED TV
This 2018 Samsung will continue to use and improve QLED for their TV displays. QLED allows for a wide range of brightness and saturation, but Samsung ran into its limitations last year in terms of black levels. Couple these limitations with QLED’s price tag and OLED’s popularity last year and it was a clear win for OLED. Samsung is now determined to turn the tables by improving its black levels and improving viewing angles, among other spec upgrades.
For the second half of 2018, Samsung will showcase a new tech called Micro Full Array (MFA). MFA allows for brightness up to 4000 nits (unit of luminance) and black levels down to 0.001 nits up to par with OLED. This new tech promises a wide range of lighting control, a first for LCD TVs. Due to this high specs, the TV will only be available in a massive screen size of 75 and 82 inches and will have at least an 8K resolution. Bringing an 8K TV to the market seems questionable and impractical as there is no content broadcasted in that quality yet. However, for Samsung, it prioritizes maintaining clarity and sharpness, gradations and the finer details. Samsung aims to take in a 4K video and upscale it to 8K without losing quality through what Samsung calls “AI Upscaling.”
But wait, there’s more. By the end of 2018, or possibly early 2019, Samsung plans to commercially bring Micro LED to the market, another first. Micro LED came from Samsung’s LED Cinema technology. This tech uses “modular LED panels pieced together to create a gigantic picture.” Downsize the big cinema screen to a 146-inch 4K TV and you have a display offering diverse picture quality and contrast.
Samsung NW700 Sound +
To accompany the large quality displays Samsung will put out this year, Samsung has recently revealed their new premium lifestyle soundbars. The NW700 Sound+ soundbar exceeds previous models and uses sound-enhancing features, such as wide range tweeters, distortion-cancelling, and multi-speaker control. The sleek and slim design makes the soundbars wall-mountable and visually appealing with Samsung’s TV line. Meanwhile, the N650 offers a panoramic sound experience using the Samsung Acoustic Beam. The speakers give an immersive experience with optimized sounds well-suited for gamers and movie enthusiasts.
Samsung might also introduce a smart speaker in the first half of 2018. Entering an already competitive market, Samsung will focus on audio quality and managing connection among smart home appliances such as lights and locks. It will run on Samsung’s virtual assistant, Bixby, and synchronize with a range of Samsung devices such as the Galaxy smartphones and smart TVs. As of now, no official announcement of its launch has been made.
Know more about the latest tech trends this 2018 and be on top of your game.
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