Year of Tech: Beam me up, Scotty!

10 December 2013 - 02:05 By Pearl Boshomane
A depiction of Elon Musk's Hyperloop, a passenger-carrying pod inside a tube
A depiction of Elon Musk's Hyperloop, a passenger-carrying pod inside a tube

Pearl Boshomane rounds up the best and the worst of technology

Best Innovation

Elon Musk's Hyperloop transport system sounds like something out of a science fiction movie. Touted as a fifth mode of transportation, it consists of a passenger-carrying pod inside a tube and will apparently travel at 962km/h. No one has offered to build it yet, although Musk has made the plans publicly available.

Most Talked About

Apple once again stole the spotlight. Not for coming up with innovative new products but for perfecting what they already have. First, Apple users went crazy for iOS 7, an all-new mobile operating system that promised to turn your device into a whole new phone or tablet (they were exaggerating), and then they gave away the software free of charge. They also brought out a new iPad (the Air) and a new iPhone (the 5S and 5C). Phew.

Epic Fail

The YouTube Music Awards were a great idea in theory. The world's leading video streaming service comes together with musicians and fans to give out accolades and live-stream the filming of music videos. Unfortunately, the final product was a mess.

Trend To Watch

The phablet. For those who don't know, that's a phone that also doubles as a tablet - or maybe it's the other way around. We don't know. Samsung has been the market leader with their popular Galaxy Note. If you want to look like you're holding a TV against your face when you answer a call, the phablet is for you. (See the review on Page 19)

Best Website

Netflix is nothing new but 2013 has perhaps been its best year yet. The streaming service became a content producer, making its own television shows and releasing entire seasons in one go, to the delight of binge watchers. Its biggest hits included the multiple Emmy-nominated House of Cards, Arrested Development and the prison comedy Orange is the New Black. While Netflix is still not available in South Africa, M-Net has brought some of its shows to our TV screens. Thank goodness.

Failed Comeback

BlackBerry was hoping their Z10 touch-screen smartphone would help breathe life into the dying brand, but things didn't quite pan out that way. They then made a foray into the tablet market, but their PlayBook was a damp squib, both in sales and design. Their much-loved BBM service was released as an app to other smartphone users, but that also failed to save them.

Special Mention

Siemens Southern Africa combined technology with charity when they built the Mandela School of Science and Technology. Located in Madiba's home village of Mvezo, the school has state-of-the-art equipment with a special focus on the sciences.

What we hope for in 2014

That Google will finally release their wearable computer, the Google Glass.