What to look out for in tech in 2013

Here's our quick rundown of 13 key technology launches and evolutions that will be taking place in the coming 12 months.

If you love technology then here are 13 reasons to get excited about 2013.

Early in the year, we’ll see the much-anticipated ‘comeback’ of Blackberry, with its make-or-break new BB10. Can it scale the heights again?

Expect new consoles from Sony and Microsoft, a lot of new Apple gear - and some unexpected tech surprises.

Here's our quick rundown of 13 key technology launches and evolutions that will be taking place in the coming 12 months.


A new updated Xbox
When Microsoft finally announce the successor to its best-selling Xbox 360 console, we very much doubt it will actually be called the Xbox 720. The machine looks set to have - according to the rumours - Microsoft’s motion-sensing Kinect at its heart, doing away with the need for controllers. It could also feature Blu-ray - plus a far bigger slant towards downloadable games and content. Microsoft want their box to be the hub of every living room, hence the release of all sorts of apps for the Xbox 360 bringing films, music and connectivity to the console. The good news is, we could see it on the shelves just ahead of Christmas 2013.

The follow-up to the PlayStation 3
Rumours are now swirling that the PlayStation 4 won't actually arrive in the flesh until Spring 2014 - but it will probably first be on display E3 in 2013. A recent leak suggested its classic-design controller will split in two to enable it to also become a Move sensor. It would be surprising if it wasn't called the PlayStation 4 given previous naming conventions - it’s also rumoured to have 4K resolution compatibility, and could be the first mainstream gadget to show films at four times hi-def resolution.


See the bigger picture with 4K

Next year should see the arrival of the first mainstream TVs featuring 4K, also known as Ultra High Definition or UHD. It has four times the resolution of 1080p HD - it's already been used during the Olympics with the resulting images shown on massive cinema screens. It will take a few years for mass-market pricing of tellies - the first two are more than £20,000 apiece -  but broadcasters including the BBC are already experimenting with it.

Print your own products at home in 3D
The 3D printing phenomenon has already caused excitement in 2012 but next year it should really explode into homes thanks to mainstream machines like MakerBot and the Cubify Cube. Both should fall below the £1,000 mark allowing home inventors to create designs and turn them into real and colourful hard plastic products from the comfort of their living rooms. By building up a product in tiny layers using plastic mainly, but also metal on more expensive machines, we could eventually be printing out shoes, jewellery and even musical instruments from designs we buy on the web.

Apple's iPhone 6, iPad 5 and iPad mini 2
It wouldn't be a surprise to see the iPad mini gain a Retina screen, an addition which could potentially make it the best tablet computer available - and rumour suggests this could happen sooner rather than later. A much thinner iPad 5 in-keeping with the new iPod touch and Mac ranges would be likely while an iPhone 6 will no doubt arrive in September or October with many moaning it's failed once more to live up to the hype and rumour, despite millions still buying it. By then Apple will hopefully have sorted their Maps too. Who knows, we may well see that much talked about Apple TV as well!

The wide availability of 4G

The past couple of months have seen the first superfast mobile network launched in Britain from Orange and T-Mobile owners EE. But in 2013, we will see Vodafone, O2 and possibly 3 come to the party once the Government holds its much-anticipated 4G Auction. They're in desperate need of the cash it will raise too, so it shouldn't be much longer until a fair chunk of the country has the ability to download movies and music without any waiting and stream on the move with no lag or buffering. It should also ensure outlying areas of the country get broadband across the airwaves, opening up the internet to those who've previously been denied it due to slow fixed-line speeds.

A Kindle phone from Amazon?
The online shopping giant has already branched out into offering all sorts of downloadable entertainment from music to films to books and its latest Kindle Fire HD tablet takes advantage of having so much content available at their fingertips. So it would be a mistake not to assume they could be working on their own mobile phone to take a byte out of Apple's business. If they do manage to bring one to market, expect it to be cheap as chips with Amazon again making their money from people downloading music, books and apps once they’re signed up.

A home of appliances talking to each other
Smart appliances with the ability to connect to the internet and be controlled from afar are now becoming more popular. Recently we've seen apps that can turn your central heating on and off when you're out while startups such as Lockitron are creating software that turns a mobile into a set of keys, opening your front door. But the next big advance will be common home devices such as kettles, toasters, ovens and fridges that become smarter. Soon you'll be able to boil up a cuppa from an app or turn the dinner on to cook when you're leaving the office, not to mention start the washing so it's spun and ready when you get home. Appliances will also be able to talk to each other and to you using the web, giving you details of what you need to buy to stock up the fridge. It's dubbed The Internet of Things and will only get bigger, more creative and far more intrinsic to all of our lives.

More exciting news from Google's Project Glass
We're unlikely to see a mass market version of Google's futuristic glasses in 2013 but thankfully we're bound to hear a lot more about them to keep us enthralled. Like an accessory from a sci-fi movie, these specs have a little screen that can bring to life the world around you. From displaying directions when you're walking to overlaying maps of the best places to visit, they will be able to connect to your mobile to power the internet connection - although there are rumours that eventually they will have built-in 4G. They will also be able to take pictures and stream video and likely do a host of things we can't even yet imagine or dream of.

Our lives fully contained in the skies
Already the need to have a hard drive on your computer is becoming less and less important. Cloud-based systems that contain all of our files, music tracks, films and other data have surged in popularity over the past 12 months and this looks set to continue. Google Drive and Microsoft SkyDrive will give access to all your personal stuff on the move using mobiles and tablets and your own personal cloud will become the centre of your digital life sharing content and preferences across all different devices and hooking you up to other services from the likes of Government.

Cyber-terrorism will be on the rise
With the increasing importance of connectivity on our lives, it's undoubted that the threat from so-called "cyber-terrorists" will increase. Attacks that attempt to shut down power grids and utilities may still be the stuff of movie fiction but viruses such as Stuxnet and Denial of Service attacks on major websites have already shown the dangers faced by countries, businesses and communities that now need to be online and connected 24/7. A recent report by the UN highlighted the lack of international agreement on the issue and this is likely to be a bigger issue for Government policy in the coming 12 months.

Flexible and Foldable screens
The next wave of the tablet revolution will surely come down to the design of the screen, with roll-up and foldable displays having been talked about for the past few years. Rumours suggest Samsung could show off an unbreakable fold-up mobile phone screen at CES 2013 and this could spark a real futuristic race for putting new types of entertainment and communication devices in our pockets. Other display advancements for mobile could see gesture-based controls used in the same way they are on our consoles, rather than touch-based ones.

A fightback begins from BlackBerry
One of the first technology launches of 2013 will come when BlackBerry maker RIM announce their latest software version on January 30. BlackBerry 10 promises a "re-designed, re-engineered, re-invented" operating system in a bid to hit back at the success of Apple's iPhone iOS and Google's Android. They certainly need to produce something spectacular to turn around their fortunes but with a flagship touchscreen-only device on the horizon, will the lack of a QWERTY keyboard for now be an own-goal considering how much of BlackBerry's original success was built on the popularity of having a device with one?