16 trends from Mobile World Congress that will reshape the year ahead

It used to be that January’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) set the tone for the entire year in tech – but it doesn’t tell the whole picture anymore. We won’t see the hottest smartphones, tablets, and wearables until Mobile World Congress, now the largest mobile show in the world, in February. That’s when the entire picture of the future crystalizes.

Fortunately, we’re on our way back from Barcelona as we speak, and we just wiped the fog off our crystal ball. Here are 16 Digital Trends you will want to know about in 2016.

The year of VR | Age of accessories | Where’s the wearables? | Twinning phones

The year of VR

The year of VR_

Last year, wearables were the hot new category making waves. This year, it’s virtual reality. At the end of 2015, Samsung put VR on the map with Gear VR – a product that is leaps and bounds ahead of any other phone-based VR headset. It gave Galaxy phone owners high-quality virtual reality for 100 bucks. At CES, Facebook showed its final Oculus Rift headset, and at MWC we got final launch details for our favorite VR system, the HTC Vive, which actually lets you walk around and interact with virtual worlds.

But HTC wasn’t alone. It feels like almost every major tech company, from LG to SK Telecom, has its own VR product, service, or technology. What we don’t know is how many people actually want to use VR on a daily basis. The success or failure of Oculus and Vive will give a strong indication how much virtual reality the world can stomach.

Read more here.

Age of accessories

In the last couple years, a lot of smart eyewear and smartwatches hit the market – emphasis on “a lot.” Oddly, wearables were rare this year at MWC. In 2016, we’re seeing a few struggling wearables, but a lot more power players turning to new accessories, like the 360-degree action cams by LG and Samsung, or little robotic toys, like the Sony Agent. These devices are all Bluetooth enabled and designed to easily sync up with smartphones. And many are tangentially related to VR.

Read more here.

Where are the wearables?

Seriously, where are they? If it weren’t for the very fun Avegant Glyph, we would have struggled to find any solid wearables at MWC this year. CES and other shows haven’t been much better, either. Some watch makers are finally adding basic smart features to their watches, and fitness bands are still creeping along, but it looks like we’ll have to wait until the second half of 2016 before we get to see the next generation of smartwatches, or any other wearable products that try something fresh.

Read more here.

It’s hard to tell phones apart

Outside of the swappable modules on LG’s G5, we haven’t seen a lot of outward innovation in the design of phones. Most major phones we’re seeing have a 5- to 5.7-inch screen, are made of metal, have fingerprint readers, and don’t have a lot of new, unique apps on them. They all look fairly similar. Yet, we’re seeing more of them than ever. The major smartphone makers appear to agree on what a smartphone should look like and how it should operate.

Read more here.

Photography

How iPhone photographers connect the world using only ‘basic’ gear

August 19 is World Photography Day, marking progress from the daguerreotype to the iPhone. But how do today's photographers create a connection to viewers using basic gear? We talked to iPhone photographers and influencers around the world…
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Mobile

How to get ‘Fortnite: Battle Royale’ on an Android device

'Fortnite: Battle Royale' is one of the biggest games in the world right now, and it's finally on Android, even if getting set up is a bit long-winded. Here's how to play 'Fortnite: Battle Royale' on an Android device.
Emerging Tech

Stanford A.I. can realistically score computer animations just by watching them

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a computer system that’s able to synthesize realistic sounds for 3D animation, based entirely on its knowledge about the physical world.
Wearables

Samsung's new Galaxy Watch touts ultra-tough glass, multiday battery life

Samsung has finally introduced a sequel to the Galaxy Gear S3 smartwatch -- called the Samsung Galaxy Watch. The new device features a slick design, Samsung's Tizen operating system, and a heart rate monitor to help you track your fitness.
Mobile

A library at your fingertips: The 101 best free Kindle books

You shouldn't always have to pay for a good read. Here are our picks for the best free Kindle books, so you don't have to sort through thousands of titles on Amazon and Google Play. We divided them into various genres, so dive in.
Apple

New patent suggests multiuser support could one day come to Siri

A new patent suggests that a major improvement may be in the works for Apple's digital assistant. Nothing has been confirmed, but Apple may soon work on implementing multiuser support for Siri.
Wearables

Huawei could announce a trio of new smartwatches at IFA in late August

The Huawei Watch 3 may be a ways off from release, but that doesn't mean Huawei isn't working on what it could look like. A new patent from Huawei hints at a smartwatch with space to store a pair of true wireless earbuds.
Mobile

Apple aficionados, these cute pillows are made just for you

Created as "a cuddly tribute to the tech that changed our lives," these cute pillows will be hard to resist for diehard Apple fans. Each one features an iconic Apple product, including the first iMac and the game-changing iPod.
Mobile

iPad battery explosion prompts Apple Store evacuation in Amsterdam

An iPad battery exploded in an Apple Store over the weekend, causing breathing issues for staff members, and requiring the fire brigade and an ambulance to attend. The incident took place in Amsterdam.
Mobile

Airport’s low-tech solution to digital chaos involves the humble whiteboard

A U.K. airport has suffered a major computer error, caused by data connection problems, which has stopped flight boards from showing crucial passenger information. The solution is wonderfully low-tech.
Mobile

Free yourself! How to unlock a phone from the icy hands of your wireless carrier

Do you want to know how to unlock a phone through your carrier or a third-party service like DoctorSIM? Regardless of which way you want to go, we've compiled a list of requirements and methods for doing so.
Wearables

Part smartwatch, all fitness tracker, the Charge 3 is a blast from Fitbit’s past

Fitbit announced its next wearable: The Fitbit Charge 3. The new fitness tracker features a touchscreen OLED display, smartwatch capabilities, enhanced fitness features and more. Here's everything you need to know about it.
Wearables

Apple registers six models of Apple Watch Series 4 in European Union

Ready for an all new Apple Watch for 2018? It looks like Apple may be planning a complete redesign with improved health features. Here are all the details about the upcoming Apple Watch Series 4.
1 of 4