30 December, 2015
Technology related to the Internet continued to speed ahead in 2015. With so many products and apps, here's what we thought were the hottest trends.
Periscope broadcasts around the world
Twitter brought us live-streaming video this year. The Periscope app was launched on Twitter's social media site in March. Periscope showed what people were doing at the moment. It was also used by news outlets to report breaking, or happening, news on location. Companies used Periscope, as well, to talk about their commercial products.
The people who watch live streaming on Periscope can make comments or write a note that is seen on the Periscope screen. A map shows where people are broadcasting from.
You can broadcast stories with Periscope anywhere there is an Internet connection.
Started in April 2015, Blab broadcasts conversations of two, three or four people on its website. Sign up for the video service with Twitter and watch people talk about all kinds of subjects.
Blab conversations include science, cooking, news, TV shows or other subjects. You can make comments and ask questions.
You can launch a Blab conversation as long as you have another person to join in. You might be asked to join an existing conversation.
Tech that you wear -- like a bracelet that measures breathing, heart rate or the number of steps you've walked ?continued to be popular.
Some companies introduced new smart watches. Smart watches send notifications that you've received a phone call or text message. The devices can measure physical activity, too.
However, the company Nike ?a giant in sports clothing and gear -- gave up on wearable technology in 2015. It stopped selling its FuelBand fitness tracker.
Another company, Pebble, offered two smart watches in 2015. The first, Pebble Time, broke records on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter in March. It raised the most money ever for a project.
Pebble Time shipped in June 2015. It works with both Android and iPhone.
Pebble also developed Pebble Time Round. Claiming to be the thinnest smart watch ever, Pebble Time Round says its battery will last a week without recharging.
The Apple Watch was released in April. The watch connects to an iPhone to provide notifications, make and receive phone calls and text messages, and tell time.
The watch also works as a fitness tracker and has apps to control music, get stock prices and more.
Streaming music services
In June, Apple launched its streaming music service, Apple Music. The service is free for three months. After that, users can still listen to the music for free, but with advertisements. To avoid ads, Apple offers monthly paid memberships.
Apple Music is available in more than 100 countries.
The streaming service has more than 30 million songs, and it works with iTunes. Apple Music has had some issues with controls and playing back music. Updates to Apple Music solved some of these issues.
Apple Music is available on iPhone, iPad and Android.
Spotify is a service available in 64 countries on the Internet. It plays music, much like a radio station, through an iPhone, Android phone, or computer using Spotify's website. You also can download the Spotify player.
Spotify's Year in Music 2015 shows which artist was streamed the most (Drake), who had the most streams in a single day (Justin Bieber), and the Most Streamed Song of 2015: Lean On (featuring M?and DJ Snake) by Major Lazer.
Listen to the Top 100 Tracks of 2015 Global to hear the most popular songs around the world this year on Spotify.
The power of your voice
The quality of voice assistance improved this year. Speaking a command to your phone is quicker and easier than typing in commands.
Some things you can do with your voice are search the Internet, get directions, find a place to eat, find a nearby movie or control the lighting in your home.
And people with physical disabilities are greatly helped by voice assistance.
Some of the popular voice assistants are named Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google Now.
Self-driving automobiles arrived with Tesla's autopilot mode in October. Tesla's autopilot can steer, speed up and come to a stop at speeds over 29 kph.
A company called Best Mile announced this year that it is making final preparations to operate buses that drive themselves. It plans to offer this service in Switzerland next spring. These buses will hold up to nine people who are brave enough to ride in a bus without a driver.
Tablets replacing laptops
Both Microsoft and Apple introduced new large tablets designed to replace laptop computers. Both tablets have a stylus and keyboard.
Microsoft started selling the Surface Pro 4 tablet with a 31-cm screen two months ago. The Surface Pro 4 runs Windows 10, the same operating system as a computer, making this tablet a true replacement of the computer.
The stylus and keyboard are included with the Surface Pro 4.
Apple introduced its biggest iPad ever in October, launching the iPad Pro with a 33-cm screen. Unlike the Surface Pro, the iPad Pro uses iOS, Apple's mobile operating system. It requires apps to work.
A stylus, called the Apple Pencil, and a keyboard are available, but not included with the iPad Pro.
One way tech did not change was with continuing data breaches. Companies and government agencies around the world had records stolen, allowing hackers access to personal and financial information.
Many companies and other organizations had data stolen in 2015.
- Anthem, a large health insurance company in the U.S., with over 80 million records stolen
- Home Depot, a store that sells materials for houses, had records stolen from over 56 million customers
- Ebay, an online auction site, had 145 million records stolen
- U.S. Office of Personnel Management, a U.S. government agency, had 25 million records stolen
- Japan Airlines had data stolen from over 750,000 passengers
- TalkTalk, a U.K. telecommunications company, had records stolen from 157,000 customers
- British Airways had "tens of thousands" of passenger records stolen
And that's a look back at the year in personal technology.
I'm Kathleen Struck.
Carolyn Nicander Mohr wrote this story for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
What tech trends do you think were most important in 2015? What tech trends do you think are ahead for us in 2016 and beyond? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below or on 51VOA.COM!
Words in This Story
app n. application, or computer program that performs a particular task
streaming adj. playing continuously as data is sent to a computer over the Internet
smart adj. controlled by computers and able to do things that seem intelligent
notification n. something that gives official information to someone
conversation n. an informal talk involving two people or a small group of people
battery n. a device that is placed inside a machine (such as a clock, toy, or car) to supply it with electricity
introduce v. to make (something) available for sale for the first time
fund v. to provide money for (something)
autopilot - n. a device that steers a ship, aircraft, or spacecraft in place of a person
accelerate v. to move faster : to gain speed
laptop n. a small computer that is designed to be easily carried
stylus n. a small tool that is used to write or touch buttons on a computer
keyboard n. the set of keys that are used for a computer or typewriter
mobile adj. of or relating to cellular phones, handheld computers, and similar technology.
data breach n. the unauthorized or illegal viewing, access or retrieval of data by an individual
* Data Breach image courtesy of Mark Warner via Flickr and Creative Commons