Renaissance smart glasses
The year 2021 could also be called the year of smart glasses. Many years after the legendary Google Glass glasses, when not much was happening in the industry and manufacturers focused mainly on large virtual reality headsets, the idea of smart glasses returned. This year we saw many concepts and several finished products. Interestingly, individual manufacturers often take a completely different path.
The year 2021 brought a lot of new smart glasses, each of which is different.
One of the most interesting works is Ray-Ban Stories, created in collaboration with Meta (Facebok), which is used primarily for content sharing. Other compact glasses were HTC’s Vive Flow, which are compact VR devices that connect to a smartphone. For a change, Xiaomi Smart Glasses have ambitions to become a replacement for the phone. Then there are TCL augmented reality glasses or Huawei EyeWear, which want to look like ordinary glasses with a speaker and voice control.
If there is anything that completely defines the year-round situation in the smartphone market, it is clearly a chip crisis. The scarecrow, which at the beginning of the year wrinkled the smaller producers, gradually became a huge problem even for the biggest players. She even touched Apple, which had to stop making iPhones for the first time in 10 years.
Despite the chip crisis, we have started new business in this business
We also experienced situations where manufacturers were forced to calculate which product had a higher priority for them, so that the chips they could use as saffron were included. The situation also shuffled the cards with the entire chip market, and chip manufacturers that we have seen only exceptionally on branded phones have come to the fore.
In addition, phone manufacturers have begun to make their own chips. Google has introduced its own Tensor processor, Oppo has rushed to the MariSilicon coprocessor, and more are likely to be added. For a change, Apple began putting its chips into computers.
Wear OS 3 as a new smart watch engine?
The year 2021 can also be called a year of smart watches, whose sales grew strongly this year, surprisingly at the expense of bracelets, as statistics show. However, one of the key events, which will manifest itself mainly in the future, may be the arrival of the new Wear OS 3 from Google.
Wear OS 3 on a new watch from Samsung. More will come soon.
It was introduced in the spring and with its development Google helped Samsung, which became the first manufacturer to use it in a modified version of the product. But most of all, it is a promise for the future. Google’s platform has gradually faded in recent years, leading manufacturers to create proprietary solutions and market fragmentation. However, the new system can start the smart watch market nicely.
Fighting big brother
For users, two inconspicuous buttons when launching the application, for their creators and sellers of advertising is absolutely crucial and often existential. By the time Apple came up with the seemingly nice idea of giving users back control of their privacy. This is because the App Tracking Transparency feature gives the user the option of passing on additional information about the device, which was used in various metrics.
The user always has the choice of whether or not to allow data transfer.
This move has hit Facebook and other big players who make a living from advertising the hardest. If the user does not allow the transfer of data, these companies will lose access to their data and thus the exact targeting of advertising. But in the end, companies had no choice but to adapt.
The third major mobile platform
The year 2021 was also interesting in that, after several years of Android and iOS dominance, our third mobile operating system – Huawei Harmony OS – grew up here. The system uses the code of the open Android and Linux Kernel and builds on Huawei’s own services with the entire ecosystem, which has already started on the system from Google. In appearance, HarmonyOS is very similar to Android with some elements similar to iOS.
HarmonyOS is intended to be a platform for various devices
But the advantage is its versatility. Although it still runs primarily on devices from Huawei (although this is also gradually changing), we can find Harmony OS in devices from smart watches to phones to smart cars, for example. So far, the disadvantage of the system is the lack of applications due to the absence of GMS, but this is gradually changing and thanks to the support of APK files, it is possible to install Google-independent applications manually.
Selfie on display
For several years now, we have seen phones with cutouts or bullets in the display, which are taxed on the extended display to the edges on the front. This year, however, we have finally seen how to get rid of these “beauty flaws”. The phones came with a selfie camera under the surface of the display. First, it started at the beginning of the year, ZTE, whose Axon 20 hid under the screen, but due to the different pixel structure, at least on bright surfaces it was like a fist to the eye. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 is similar.
New display technologies are intended to completely cover the integrated camera.
It wasn’t until the progress of the year that this mess was fine-tuned and the new ZTE Axon 30 or Xiaomi MIX 4 came along, which already offers a high level of image fineness even above the display, and you practically don’t know about the camera. Now all that remains is to improve the image quality of the front camera itself, which suffers due to the display layer above it.
Mobile data is still expensive for the Czechs
Unfortunately, the continuing trend in 2021 in the Czech Republic was also expensive mobile data. Already at the beginning of the year, our country turned out to be absolutely tragic in an independent British survey, when it placed at the bottom of all over Europe, and even in the world we can envy even less economically developed countries.
The Czech Republic is the black sheep of Europe with the price of mobile data
Unfortunately, this was also confirmed in the autumn by the European Commission, according to which we clearly have the most expensive tariffs in the entire European Union. The question is what must happen for local operators to respond and change. Ideally, consumers would stop using inadequately priced services en masse – but this is difficult to implement in the case of mobile services that are irreplaceable. The Czech Telecommunication Office wants to try to regulate the wholesale price of mobile data, but first it has to defend its arguments before the European Commission and it is not very successful yet …
Sideloading and lower fees
In 2021, the court battles of Epic with Apple and Google continued again. However, these cases eventually gained a far greater overlap and opened up some major issues. One of them is sideloading. This was a virtually forbidden word for a company like Apple, as it was about allowing applications to be installed from alternative sources cost Apple a lot of explanations this year. The European Commission has also intervened, which sees Apple’s behavior as a restriction of competition and would like Apple to allow the installation from elsewhere.
Allow or disallow installing apps from alternative stores?
Closely related to this are the developer fees and payment style. Developers, smaller companies, but also states do not like the high 30% fees of Apple and Google, which has led to pressures that have halved for smaller developers. In some countries, government agencies have also come into play, forcing large players to offer alternative payment methods where the customer can avoid commissions altogether.
One sad end and one uncertain return
The year 2021 took us one of the traditional phone brands – LG – a little unexpectedly. At the beginning of the year, we were looking forward to its scrolling displays on the phone and were surprised by the exotic LG Wing, and only a few weeks later came the news that the company ended up with smartphones and focused only on other electronics in which it excels – mainly home appliances and televisions.
At the end of the mobile business, LG showed very interesting phones.
The opposite scenario met Honor, which, on the other hand, became independent after the sale by the Chinese Huawei and was no longer subject to American restrictions. Thanks to this, it was able to return smartphones to global markets, including the Czech one. Since then, we have seen two flagship models, but even so, the company may not have won yet. US senators are circling around and finding out if ties to Huawei have not been maintained …
Every year we witness a gradual improvement in the quality of the cameras of the phones, improving the resolution, pixel size, postprocessing and other parameters of photography. The camera’s sensor itself gradually increases in time, but mostly only slightly due to the physical limitations of the phones. That’s why it was quite a surprise when we first saw a 1 “sensor in smartphones this year.
The year 2021 brought the first 1 “sensors to telephones
The Japanese Sharp Aquos R6 came with it for the first time in the spring, but its use in the new Sony Xperia Pro-I was much more interesting. So it’s only a matter of time before it gets to other phones, which can unlock the potential for even better photos. The larger sensor can absorb more light, better dynamic range and generally helps to shoot in poor light.
Goodbye 3G, welcome 4G and 5G in the Prague metro
Mobile 3G networks said goodbye to the Czech airline this year, all three operators switched them off throughout the year, and the last transmitters went out at the end of November. The freed frequencies from the 2,100 MHz band, where 3G networks were running, will serve to increase the capacity of the currently most used 4G (LTE) network and, in some cases, to “throw in” the new generation of 5G.
You can catch the mobile signal all over the subway, usually even 5G!
At the end of this year, both of these technologies (4G and 5G) finally reached practically the entire Prague metro network. Operators with the Prague transport company boast how they managed to do so a year before the deadline (it was originally set at the end of 2022), but first of all, compared to other European cities, there was a huge shame that coverage in the metro was not yet available. So now we’re just taking a step.
Regulation for a better future?
The European Commission has had a busy year this year, which may have made some phone manufacturers wrinkle. She came up with many suggestions to help consumers in the future. The proposed unification of charging connectors resonated the most. If the design passes, all smartphones (as well as other small electronics) would have to offer a USB-C connector, which of course Apple doesn’t like.
According to the European Commission, USB-C should be a single connector
Related to this is the unification of standards for fast charging and the removal of adapters from phone packaging in the name of ecology. There is also speculation about extending the guaranteed software support of the phones in order to extend their life cycle, so that customers do not have to buy a new mobile phone as often. The European Commission sees five years as the optimal period. The Germans even talk about seven years of support. The change would most affect Android phones, which usually have two-year, maximum three-year support.