Now that we’ve attempted to pick the big winners in the upcoming year (while also looking back at some letdowns of this past year), we wanted to turn to some of the cutting-edge technologies that look the most promising and/or interesting for the smartphone space in 2011. Specifically, what features or functions will make a splash next year, or at least start to gain a foothold that will translate to widespread adoption a bit farther down the road. Keep in mind that this is an especially difficult type of thing to predict, simply because this industry tends to take such unexpected twists and turns. It’s taken much longer than once thought for video calling to take off in the US, for instance, while certain promising services, like streaming television, have apparently proven to be a niche market. (Qualcomm recently sold all of the spectrum it once used for its failed MediaFLO digital TV network.) Before you go about giving us your own thoughts, take a look at what some of our editors had to say on the issue:
Multi-core processors — In 2011, we’re going to see big performance improvements in smartphones thanks to multi-core processors. This might enable a new wave of immersive interfaces that otherwise wouldn’t be possible today with just one CPU. It’ll also help multitasking tremendously, and possibly increase battery life (as multi-core CPUs typically have intelligent power saving features).
Contactless payment — Next year will likely see the first widespread North American adoption of contactless payments, thanks to NFC support in Android 2.3 Gingerbread, touchless payment-enabling microSD cards from Visa, and carrier cooperation in developing and testing universal technological standards.
Windows Phone 7 — It all comes down to how well Microsoft will start/continue supporting the system with updates. New business features need to be implemented in order to gain business user market share but we already know that’s planned. WP7 in its current form is intended for personal use but once it will be ready for business use, it will be great with its Exchange, Sharepoint and Office integration.
DLNA — The ability to stream content (music, movies, TV, photos) from a hand-held device to a network-connected TV in HD, without wires? Nerdvana.
Tablets — Simply put, tables will EXPLODE onto the scene (even more so). With the Playbook, Honeycomb, and iPad 2 coming tablets will gain the spotlight and be what’s featured on morning shows across the US. I just hope prices on mobile data become more reasonable with a higher cap due to the tablet influx. We may see phones incorporated into 7″ tablets also. Bluetooth anyone?
Glasses-free 3D displays — These have been around for a couple of years now, but unfortunately only as prototypes. As Sharp has already created a couple of devices using this technology it should become more mainstream in this next year.
3D displays — While there are plenty of practical uses for the technology, the “wow” factor alone could make this one a winner.