Like the year before it, the biggest stories and tech innovations in 2024 will likely revolve around artificial intelligence. But that won’t be the end of it. Sandwiched in-between the latest large language model updates will be trends that will change everything from how we measure our health and perceive our world to how we compute and consume content. Here’s what I’ll be watching in 2024.
Okay, let’s get this out of the way. There will be a lot of AI in 2024. A LOT. A TON. Got it? Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI will continue to lead the Generative AI charge but they’ll be joined by newcomers like Samsung with its Galaxy AI, Amazon with its more powerful Alexa, and whatever Apple is secretly working on and that should get a splashy launch at WWDC 2024.
Apple has a lot invested in Siri, so don’t expect them to pull a ‘Bing’ and replace their digital assistant brand with ‘Apple AI’ (although that does have a nice ring to it). There will be no half-measures here, though. I think 2024 will mark the beginning of Apple’s big, consumer-facing AI bet and, if they’re doing it smart, it will tie into not only the best iPhone, best iPad, and best Mac, but its fastest-growing sector: services. Who knows, perhaps a subscription to Apple One will give you access to Siri Max, Apple’s more powerful and versatile AI. Apple will also blend AI into its creative tools like Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro.
Granted, this is all guesswork on my part but I am certain that Apple knows by now that it can no longer stand on the sidelines in this AI race.
We’ll all be using ‘AI phones’, which will be a lot like the phones you have now but with the added ability of reality manipulation.
In the computing space, many consumers will get their first taste of an AI PC and, to be honest, be underwhelmed. It’s not enough to simply have an ultra-smart assistant on your Windows 11 (or Windows 12) PC, you have to know what to do with it. While consumers will struggle to find the value in CoPilot, businesses will quickly discover the highs and lows of AI-generated work.
Along with the rapid pace of AI development across apps, desktop interfaces, devices, computers, and more, I think we’ll see our first glimpses of AGI or Artificial General Intelligence. This is AI that appears to use human-like reasoning to solve problems. It thinks like our squishy brains do. I don’t know if it will be a new GPT-Mind, Gemini-Overlord, or something else. I do think that whoever is ready to show it off will first purposely trick us into believing we’re engaged with a sentient human. When that happens, we’ve entered uncharted territory.
Put a ring on it
The big trend in wearables will be smart rings. The best smartwatches and bands aren’t going anywhere, but we’ll come out of CES 2024 having seen a whole bunch of new screen-free, finger-ready health, wellness, and fitness-measuring devices.
There will be more functionality and a lot more fashion. Along with smarter rings will come health-friendly earbuds that track your heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety, I think there’s a lot you can tell by sticking a finger…er…earbud in your ear canal. Again, the over-arching trend in 2024 is low-profile technology that does, for instance, the same thing as your now unbanned Apple Watch Series 9, Google Pixel Watch 2, or even the smartphone in your pocket (though you’ll still need that to check your stats).
There’s also a decent chance that smart fabric will take another run at the wearable brass ring in 2024. Smaller and smarter sensors that don’t feel like wires, metal, or physical buttons might make a smart shirt that can track your vitals more practical. At the very least, 2024 should net us some decent smart socks.
The other area of smart wearable growth will be in smart glasses. We already have a nice collection of Alexa and Meta-enabled smart lenses. Meta’s Ray-Ban Smart Glasses are pushing the boundaries of on-face intelligence with the possibilities of the glasses using their onboard vision and AI to identify the world around you and even make suggestions.
That trend, for all its privacy implications, will continue in 2024. The smart glasses we’re deeming to wear will get even smarter and, I bet, cheaper. More people will be wearing them and you won’t even notice until your friends seem a lot smarter than normal.
The rockstar wearable: Vision Pro
Appel’s Vision Pro, expected to launch sometime in February of 2024 is the polar opposite of low-impact, low-friction wearables. They’re goggles you wear on your face to either mix your reality with a computer-generated one or for full immersion in a VR world. The optics and silicon inside these nearly $4,000 headsets are Apple-level impressive.
2024 will mark the first time consumers outside of a very small set of journalists (I’m lucky enough to be among them) will try out Vision Pro in Apple stores around the country. It’ll be a make-or-break moment for Apple’s big bet. I think people will be bowled over but few will buy. Apple may be using the Vision Pro as a come-on for a far more affordable headset that could arrive mid-year 2024 or early 2025. That will be the Vision Pro (Vision Pro Lite?) most people buy.
What I can’t quite determine is what kind of impact Apple’s Spatial Computing strategy will have on the computing world at large. I don’t see it changing habits in 2024 but it should get people thinking. 2025 should be interesting.
Folding and unfolding
I fully expect the foldable phone and device industry to maintain course in 2024. Samsung, Motorola, and Google are committed to the folding form factor. Samsung will roll out a Galaxy Z Fold 6 and Z Flip 6, both of which will be thinner and lighter than their predecessors but that will offer little in the way of major innovation. Google will do the same, while Motorola shows the industry how to price foldables affordably.
I don’t see Apple entering the foldable fray this coming year. There is a small chance that Apple will unveil something like ‘FoldKit’ at WWDC 2024 to help Apple developers prepare for a folding iPhone before the end of the year 2024 (very unlikely) or for the early part of 2025 in the form of a folding iPad mini.
Because folding phones are all based on flexible OLED screens, we might see some more creative uses of that display technology in 2024. Imagine a mashup of wearable technology and a wraparound wrist screen (or even on one of those smart rings I mentioned above). We’ve seen glimpses of something like this before but it’s never been thin or practical. Maybe that changes this year.
The golden age of social media is a speck in our rearview mirrors, but I don’t think the age of social media is over. As I write this, Instagram’s Threads vaulted to the number one app spot. Now, this has a lot to do with them opening up the service to Europe, but that act reignited interest and has reinvigorated the platform that just a few months ago some wrote off for dead.
Still, we’re no longer able to view social media unless it’s through the prism of free speech. That’s something that, for better or worse, Elon Musk and his X platform have foisted into the actual public square. Threads has not solved the problem of how to allow free speech and ensure that it’s not harm speech. It tends to lean hard into stopping a lot of speech. Over at X, anything goes and it’s not a fun place to be.
2024 may be the year that regulation forces everyone to truly contend with the issue in a lasting way. I don’t, by the way, mean US regulation. Here, where I live, we seem incapable of creating legislation that has any real impact. All the tech regulation is coming from the EU and because tech companies operate globally, they have to start by following those edicts and then, for expediency, apply them to their global markets. You do understand why your iPhone now has a USB-C port, right?
We’ll see more of the same in 2024 and that could mean a very different, and maybe safer, if not a little more boring, social media experience.
As for who the players will be: Threads will ascend; X may hang on, but just barely; TikTok will continue its Teflon-like run against possible bans; Facebook will be less relevant than ever; and everyone will still be using Instagram. Tons of other small social media companies will rise and fall, but I will be shocked if any of them stick.
8k is just OK
I include 8K in here because I think prices for the best 8K TVs will plummet in 2024, but we still won’t have any 8K content to watch on them aside from what we shoot on some of our best Android smartphones.
2024 should be a big year for new EV models from a lot of different car companies. The competition will help lower prices, but if we lose subsidies here in the US, that may not matter much. The good news is that the charging network is about to undergo a radical standardization which means that you won’t have to worry that the EV you just bought might not find a charging station before you make it to Grandma’s house.
On the innovation side, more of these EVs will become software-based, meaning they will all get significant over-the-air updates, and on a semi-regular basis. This should be good news, but then think about how your aging uncle feels when Apple updates his iPhone. Right. Not everyone will love this new mode of car ownership.
Also, speaking of EVs, we may in 2024 finally get to have a serious talk about all those cheapo EV scooters that keep catching fire in people’s homes and apartments. It feels like the hoverboard battery fiasco all over again, but no one is talking about it. Yet.
2024 is when sustainability and eco-friendly products fully transform from lip-service into action. We will see a lot of carbon-zero products, recycled materials, old-tech reclamation projects, and many more self-repairable gadgets.
We’ll have more battery-sipping hardware and a lot more solar-powered options. It will certainly make us feel good, even if all these efforts represent just a drop in the bucket for the level of societal, cultural, and consumerism change we actually need to reverse the effects of climate change.
What you won’t hear in 2024 is any company say: “We’re not releasing a new model in 2024 because the one you have right now is good enough and will make you more than happy enough for the next two years.”
WiFi 7 should get fully ratified this year and move from a smattering of mesh network devices and a bunch of Intel Meteor Lake PCs to homes and offices, so everyone can experience 320MHz connectivity. The only thing that will slow down adoption is cost. Companies will not be anxious to upgrade their routers, and consumers who rely on cable companies for their home network connectivity hardware won’t get upgrades for years.
You’ll also hear a lot more about 6G, but after going through the 5G hyperbole tunnel, it’s unlikely any of us will show the same level of enthusiasm. If cell companies and smartphone manufacturers are smart, they’ll keep the 6G chatter on the down-low until they have something real to show us.
The Back Seat
In 2024, I don’t expect to hear much about:
The Metaverse: It’s not dead but as empty as the vacuum of space.
NFTs: My favorite current TikTok is of some rube bringing his NFT to Antiques Roadshow. The NFT owner says he paid $10k for the NFT of a monkey smoking a cigar.
“Do you know how much this is worth?” asks the auctioneer.
The NFT owner replies excitedly, “No. How much?”
“$14,” says the auctioneer.
Now this is comedy.
Crypto will go through another tough year but not as tough as 2023. I just think there’ll be a lot less heat around it. It may finally become respectable.
X: I mentioned the former Twitter above, but in 2024 people will be so over it and Elon Musk that it will cease to matter.
Humane AI Pin: Sorry but I don’t get this and a new year will not change that.
You might also like