Whatever your personal penchant in the world of all things tech—the latest in gaming and gadgets, the newest social media must-tries, cutting-edge wireless innovations—everyone can certainly agree that 2015 has been a good year for the industry. Companies and corporations large and small have rolled out some truly extraordinary things, from changing what we pay for our cellphone plans to apps that make our lives easier or just more fun.
CNN Money has compiled a nice little list of things the year has brought, providing a good bit of foreshadowing of what’s to come in the near and long-term future.
Cell Plan Revolution
If the traditional concept of a cellphone contract has been slowly slipping away, it finally kicked the bucket this year. T-Mobile, Sprint, AT&T and Verizon each debuted some startling changes that made plans cheaper and better by cutting the clutter of fees and equipment charges and going for flat-rate pricing. The newest version of your favorite phone may go up a little, but you’ll recoup any up front loss in the long run.
Apple Does it Again
Certainly one of the biggest stories of the year was the roll out of Apple’s iPhone 6s, and especially its one-of-a-kind 3D Touch feature. Depending on the amount of pressure you put down on the screen, a host of options are at your disposal, including link previewing, a quick jump to your contact list and “live” photo taking that transforms boring old shots into works of art.
Google Keeps Intriguing Us
The Internet behemoth unveiled the Now on Tap feature that cuts down on the amount of time you need to find something on your phone from minutes to mere seconds. From any website or app on your Android phone you can hold down the home button and get immediate cues as to what’s currently on your screen. Now on Tap also features an interactive voice command feature that lets you tell your phone what to do or simply ask questions related to what your currently viewing.
Microsoft Takes Over the Laptop/Tablet Hybrid Scene
Bill Gates introduced not one, not two but three new Surface laptops this year, including the Surface Pro 4, a more powerful yet affordably priced model that’s super thin and lightweight. The unique keyboard and pen are much improved, and the inclusion of the latest Intel processors make it lightning fast.
Two amazing tech legends made headlines this year—one no longer with us and one still very much with us. The movie Jobs introduced the next generation to one of the greatest minds every to find a place in the tech industry, a figure at once revered and yet tragic. But no matter your opinion on the dearly departed Steve, there’s no denying the impact he made for Apple and the tech world in general. Likewise Mark Zuckerberg remained in the public consciousness thanks to Facebook’s all-time high stock price and his almost relentless launch of new features—including universal search—for his social media darling. He also showed his generous side by bringing Internet technologies to developing countries and helping provide educational opportunities for at-risk kids.
The Friendlier Skies
Let’s be honest: Wi-Fi on airplanes has been nothing short of a nightmare for a long time. But GoGo, the power behind those in-flight connections that has earned both praise and scorn, upped their game late in the year by providing data speeds that are seven times faster than previous versions. Finally, realistic streaming may become a reality to these winged cattle cars.
Apple Keeps it Amazing (Again and Again)
The Apple Watch was, by all accounts, the best-kept secret ever, right up to its appearance this year. The multitude of styles and price points put it within nearly every person’s budget, and the sheer coolness of the gadget is still making waves. A host of watch-centric apps run the gamut from fitness to messaging, phone calls to music, and the company is already working out a lot of the bugs with interfacing and battery life that plagued the initial models.