The Wrap – Best technology of 2018

For the last few hours of 2018, we’re covering the tech trends that made 2018 exciting. We’re joined by leading technology commentators Adam Turner and Geoff Quattromani to find out what was big in 2018 and what’s coming in 2019. That’s a Wrap.

Transcript

For the last hours of 2018, you’re listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and possibly the world’s, and there are mere moments before 2018 crosses over into 2019. We’re not quite at the hindsight year of 2020, but we’re getting close, and that means it’s time to ask some questions about technology.

For instance, we don’t yet have robots to do our bidding, but we’re getting close, and while The Jetsons took place in 2062, we clearly have some time, but we’re gradually making those strides.

In fact this year, those strides were clearly evident from the push towards the smart home. One of 2018’s major tech trends, it’s one that has the power to help you in your life.

Geoff Quattromani: From the beginning of 2018 for me it was all about the smart home. Going into CES in Las Vegas, that was all we heard about and we expected it for the next 12 months.

That’s Geoff Quattromani, a tech commentator for for the Today Show and Your Money, who says that the smart home isn’t just a trend for this year, but one for the next as well.

Geoff Quattromani: I really think 2019 is when the smart home will just be known as the “home”. You know, we’ll start to see products that are so easy to integrate that when your next lightbulb dies, you will buy a Philips Hue lightglobe because it makes sense, not because it’s hard to install or you need a techie to help you with it. It will just become commonplace, and that’s very exciting for me.

The smart home is more than just turning lights on and off in your home. It’s about making your home that much more accessible, and it’s hardly surprising to see it as one of the key parts of 2018.

Smart security systems and smart door locks can talk to each other, and your phone can get an alert when someone comes home, even when you’re on holiday. There are smart appliances coming, and the aim is to create a balance and cohesive connected home.

In fact, the ides of a smart home this year was punctuated by entertainment, which helped bring the smart home to life for many people, starting with the speaker, with journalists agreeing that smart speakers were a favourite. Geoff told Pickr that his favourite product of the year was a Sonos, and he wasn’t the only one.

Adam Turner: I think it’d be a split between the Google Home Max and the Sonos Beam soundbar. You know I like my good sound quality. I love Sonos, but it’s nice to see Google getting up with that same kind of quality that puts all the other smart speakers to shame.

That’s Adam Turner, Technology Journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald, who told us that smart displays also had a place, but it was one that seemed a little unsure.

Adam Turner: I was actually really interested in smart displays because they’re kind of the logical next step, but in some ways they feel like a step backwards, cause they’ve all spent the last couple of years saying “voice is the future, you don’t need a touch interface, you don’t need a screen, just talk to your devices”, and we’re like, yeah OK, and now they turn around and say “oh by the way, stick this screen in your kitchen”. So it’s really interesting to watch them try and find their place in the home and justify their place when you’ve already got a smart speaker, and I think probably the kitchen is where they make the most sense, so it’ll be interesting to see how they run with that.

We weren’t quite as down on the smart display as Adam, but much like Geoff and Adam, our favourite products of the year were based in sound, too, and almost all had a degree of voice control.

The Sonos Beam is simply one of the best soundbars you can find, especially for its $599 price point, and was one of only a handful of products we gave five stars to. Likewise, Google’s Home Max is an impressive Sonos:5-like speaker, but with Google integration, something Sonos doesn’t yet have, even though it’s coming.

Meanwhile, we think smart displays offer a great start for people unsure about the smart home — and certainly unsure about talking to their speakers — but with a little visual cue and stimulation. But while Sonos and Google both have great products, the question will be on which brand can get people to cross over into the smart home.

Adam Turner: Google just has that greater brand awareness, and as they’re now making the speakers that are the same quality as the Sonos speaker in terms of sound but you’ve got that built-in integration, it really, it depends on how good a job Sonos can do with Google Assistant because we’re still waiting, at least in Australia for Google Assistant to work on a Sonos, so I think that will determine where they go next year.

It’s no wonder that the smart home is much of what made technology in 2018 memorable, as it’s something that goes beyond mere tech trend. It’s something real and tangible, and it’s relatable.

And next year, it will be even bigger. With CES just around the corner, we can’t wait until companies tell us how. But that’s in a few weeks.

For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. The Wrap can be found at Podcast One, Apple Podcasts, and the Pickr.com.au website every Friday and occasionally then some. In fact, this year, almost 60 episodes of The Wrap have gone online, and we’d love it if you could leave us a comment to tell us how we’re going.

The Wrap will be back in the new year to cover more technology in the space of five minutes, something we don’t think thing anyone else is doing. For now, let us be among the first to say happy new year and stay safe. We’ll see you next year on The Wrap. Take care.

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