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It may not have been a classic year, but with an exponential rise in smartphone usage and the release of more tablets than a hypochondriac could handle technology embraced more and more areas of our daily lives in 2013. It also embraced more and more lives in 2013 with a further rise in silver surfers and people jumping online via mobile who had previously steered clear of the internet.

In terms of new products here’s a few that stick in our memory:

Smart Watches

In April the first of 85,000 in the opening run of Pebble watches were despatched. Connecting via Bluetooth via an iPhone or Android phone to display notifications, messages, and other simple data of the user’s choosing on its small black-and-white LCD screen, the Pebble is one of a handful of new wrist-focused ‘display’ tools aiming to make smartphone usage even smarter. The Pebble is also an example of crowd-funding success, after Kickstarter backers made it the highest-grossing campaign with US$10 million backing.

Another new iPhone

Following it’s new pattern Apple upgraded the Retina display iPhone 5 with an iPhone 5S launch as the summer drew to a close. A new fingerprint sensor was seen by many as a gimmick rather than security but the 64-bit A7 chip, an improved camera and a new iOS 7 have seen it become something of a winner with the public, much more so than it’s slightly lower spec, colourful but plastic iPhone 5C sibling launched at the same time.

Two new gaming machines most will just dream of… for now

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without short supply of a gaming machine or two and both Microsoft’s new Xbox One and Sony’s Playstation 4 are set to be rarer than a winter heating bargain bill this festive season. Whilst availability may be in doubt, the sheer power and where these new gaming machines will take home entertainment is not. Microsoft is clearly looking at the Xbox generation to use the Xbox One as the sole entertainment machine with ads promoting its internet capability, multi-media interactions as well as solid gaming pleasure. Sony’s PS4 has similar functionality but it’s strength is being pushed on its gaming power. With a more limited games base at launch than its Microsoft rival, that is a key hook on which it hopes to snare those upgrading their gaming machines.

Technology will always advance with new fads and new ideas every year, but 2013 has also been a massive year for social media. The rise of Instagram and Pinterest even for business success took many by surprise but in 2013 the big talking points have again been centred around the big players.

Facebook looks to think for us

Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan -  FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan – FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Facebook rolled out Graph Search in 2013 – a new way to search – it’s big data, for small fingers at your fingertips – whatever their size. The new search functionality makes search on Facebook far easier and more user friendly in terms of posts, updates, check-ins, pages, apps, groups etc. Coupled with that better user experience Facebook also implemented clickable hashtags in 2013.Helping link together the millions of similar conversations across its 1.19 billion active monthly users, one of the things Facebook hope it does is highlight those with similar interests to you. Ironically, one of its other big moves – in updated its News Feed algorithm – means keeping track of what others are saying is a little more problematic. Facebook prefers to sell its tweaks as a way of providing a more “customized newspaper”- like experience. The impact of the EdgeRank algorithm is beginning to show in 2013  and whilst many are complaining about the rise of ads in their timelines the new 20% rule for ads – images in ads can’t be made up of more than 20% text certainly indicate where Facebook sees the future of interaction.

Twitter got people tweeting about it

As well as the word tweet making the official dictionaries Twitter celebrated by going public with an initial public offering in November 2013. Ironically in October Twitter announced a net loss of US$134 million at the end of October but its ad platform continues to prove successful – especially in the SME sector – and with 232 million monthly active users that could be quite a revenue. Adding to its value Twitter has made a few tweaks to help make it a must use platform. One of these was Twitter images showing automatically in  streams instead of just as links. With rich content posts four times as likely to get engagement as text only this visual marketing ploy should help it boost clickthroughs and the like.

Google+ huffed, puffed, re-buffed and then integrated

Google+ got an updated look and feel as Google looked to push the social networking platform some more. The new messaging system Hangouts brought free video conferencing to all and then with the integration of Google products – from one login to sharing posts – the Hangout direct link to YouTube to offering YouTube live streaming also offered technology for free to those who previously hadn’t considered it. Google’s big push is for integrating products to make business dealings slicker and more efficient. Managing ad campaigns, updating URLs, monitoring social and measuring it all via analytics all became much easier to do together in 2013 and continues to evolve

Video has grown

Twitter Vine

We now watch more and more ‘tv’ not on the TV but on tablets, smartphones and computers than most ever thought possible. Video is important to us. Twitter’s Vine introduced us to the world of 6 second video snippets that are infinitely more shareable than most YouTube clips but in 2013 Instagram offered a rival by adding video to its already successful visual platform and with more capabilities. Instagram videos can be easily posted to other social sites, including Facebook,  enjoying auto-play on timelines and lasting up to 9 seconds longer than Vine videos.

And what about 123-reg – How did we progress in 2013?

Well we extended our Premium Domain service to allow customers to take advantage and list for sale their old but goal domain names. We also launched cloud servers to offer flexibility alongside even more computing power. With the year drawing to a close we have also made great in-roads into domain name propogation lags with much improved time to live configurations and our first stage of the 123-reg mobile-ready website has gone live making domain name searching and buying a much more pleasant experience on smaller devices. We launched the new look 123-reg Content Hub and went live with our viral Customer Service video.

So 2013 may not go down in the annals of technology history as a new era, but it certainly broke new ground and the results for much of it are yet to come with 2014 offering some very exciting possibilities indeed.

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