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A snowball effect in personal tech: Looking ahead into 2024 | Latest News India

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A snowball effect in personal tech: Looking ahead into 2024 | Latest News India
A snowball effect in personal tech: Looking ahead into 2024 | Latest News India


Part of the speed at which personal technology is evolving has to do with need, but much of it is pure momentum. Remote-work tools are a good example of the former; artificial intelligence (AI)-led apps exemplify the latter. As we glide into 2024, evolving experiences will be the broader focus of new products and services on all fronts.

The dichotomy in the smartphone space is represented by the dumbphone or feature phone on the one hand, and cutting-edge models such as the X100 Pro on the other. The OnePlus Pad (above left), meanwhile, could give the iPad some tough competition.

Key debates will revolve around privacy, and simplicity. Already, the return of dumb phones (also euphemistically called “feature phones”) on the one hand and the excitement over wearable pins that can help take calls and read email on the other represent this growing dichotomy. AI will, of course, add a new layer of complexity to the landscape overall.

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Starting up Let’s begin with the microchip/processor. The effort to make this foundational element of most tech interactions smaller, and thereby more power-efficient, continues. Added to that effort is a drive to now also make the chip more attuned to the AI-led tasks it will inevitably need to run. In smartphones, Qualcomm has been doing this with the past couple of generations of its Snapdragon smartphone and wearables-focused chips. Apple’s Silicon and Google’s Tensor chips will be working towards this goal too. It is time for laptops and desktops to catch up.

Early 2024 will see the release of the first laptops powered by Intel’s new, consumer-focused Core Ultra chips. These are statedly 70% faster than recent generations of chips, when it comes to processing for generative AI models and computations.

Canva Magic Studio, the Adobe Firefly generator, and Anthropic’s Claude chatbot illustrate a growing number of tools and use-cases that will welcome optimised AI performance. “If you love OpenAI’s Dall-e or Google’s Imagen, the aim is to allow you integrate them as an app inside the Canva ecosystem, for instance,” Melanie Perkins, co-founder and CEO of Canva says, indicating the broadening scope of AI integration.

AMD will respond to Intel’s new performance benchmark, as will Qualcomm. The latter is also contending with developing competition from Apple’s M series chips, hopes resting on their Snapdragon X Elite platform.

A whole separate generation of AI-focused chips is being readied, meanwhile, for developers of AI’s founding blocks: the large language models. LLMs are trained in a process that demands considerable processing power, so these chips will be vital to overall evolution in this space.

Intel’s Gaudi 3 chips for AI companies arrive in 2024. Intel will also be working with UK’s Stability AI to build an AI supercomputer. Rival chipmaker AMD’s Instinct MI300 chips to train and run LLMs (which, they claim, will be the “highest performing accelerator in the world”) are also due for release in 2024. Microsoft and Meta are already on board as customers.

Microsoft is building custom chips too. The Azure Maia 100 and Cobalt 100 will be used to train LLMs, while reducing dependence on Nvidia. The latter, meanwhile, will hope to solve its availability and pricing issues (the Nvidia H100 reportedly costs between $25,000 and $40,000, due to shortages) ahead of the expected release of their H200 AI chip.

Next in computers Evolving operating systems are another key frontier in computing. Microsoft’s Windows 12 may be released in the second half of 2024. Much of the AI play already unfolding with Windows 11 updates (which will continue into the new year) is a precursor to Windows 12, which will have considerably deeper integration. The billions Microsoft has invested in OpenAI lead us to this inevitable point.

The Copilot “everyday assistant” will underline the new functionality that productivity and workplace apps under the Microsoft 365 umbrella will adopt. There will be AI-led email draft generation in Outlook, a notebook method for conversing with a chatbot, summaries of Teams meetings, and more. Whether all this will make interactions with these apps any smarter remains uncertain.

Lingering questions about the long-term viability of foldable or hybrid computing device forms remain. There have been sparks over time, mostly efforts made by Microsoft and Lenovo. By and large though, the PC ecosystem is struggling to overcome its inertia.

Does moving away from Microsoft Windows and Apple’s macOS open up better avenues for an alternate hybrid computer? The Apple iPad may face its toughest competition yet, if evolving refinement of last year’s OnePlus Pad and Xiaomi Pad 6 provides a springboard.

New journey for smartphones In this year and coming ones, most of our daily use of AI is likely to shift to the smartphone. These devices will therefore need to acquire the ability to interpret software and user experience with equal skill, if they are to smoothly take this step forward.

Beginning with the premium Android flagship releases expected from OnePlus and Samsung this year, phone makers will increasingly reference unique features as they aim to compete in this space. Google Assistant on Android is expected to evolve, with a smarter personality, tentatively called Pixie. Samsung’s AI call-translate feature for its next set of Galaxy phones will attempt to break the language barrier in real-time speech. OnePlus’s Android software tweaks will build on the first-generation OnePlus Open’s software and seek to utilise a foldable screen to the fullest.

Xiaomi, for the first time in its history, is reworking its smartphone operating system completely, phasing out MIUI and replacing it with HyperOS. The new operating system will offer end-to-end data encryption and large foundation models for AI-led apps.

New form factors are desirable. Samsung’s dominance in foldables has been challenged successfully by a refined OnePlus Open, and that battle will resume later in the year, with successors. Apps that make better use of a larger foldable display to enable new use-cases will likely become more crucial.

Designs look set to see a bit more colour. Appreciation for the Emerald Dusk hue by OnePlus and the transparent glass back on the Nothing Phone (2) will likely embolden designers. As will a push towards a premium experience; this push has already prompted the more-affordable upcoming Xiaomi Redmi Note series to adopt a leather-like finish on the back, in place of plastic or metal.

With camera performance such a key deciding factor among buyers, collaborations with phone makers and camera makers look set to be stepped up. Xiaomi will reap benefits from Leica’s involvement, as the former makes a concerted effort to establish itself in the premium smartphones space. New hardware in its flagship models will include infrared light and reflectance tech within each lens. Vivo’s partnership with Zeiss will define that company’s upcoming flagship phone, X100 Pro, which is expected to offer a still-rare-in-smartphones 1-inch main sensor, and multi-focus portrait capability.

How will these needs and features be reconciled with the desire for a sleek, light, easy-to-use device? That balancing act, alongside the evolving price tags, will be key.

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