Friday, March 12, 2021

What Are The Killer Features for 2021?

 2020 is about two and a half months past now.  But time is time and no amount of artificial partitions we put on our time here on earth matters much in the grand galactic scheme.  Still, we are little transient creatures with incredibly limited time as individuals and as a species.  Having said all that, what is in the offering for 2021 as far as killer features for 2021? Because I did not get any killer feature in 2020.  My guess is we probably will not get much in the way of killer features for almost anything.

It has been a while since anyone has used the term "killer feature".  And it has been a while since I read or heard "iPhone killer" or "Tesla killer".  Maybe that is because both the iPhone and Telsa are doing quite well and previous killers of these products amounted to nothing.  

Personally, I do not see anything on the horizon that would be considered killer features for the tech market in general.  Most of the products slated to be released this year are likely incremental improvements on existing products or features.  

iPhone 12 will go to iPhone 13.  Tesla's killer feature may be lower prices for the Model 3 and Y as it battles new electric vehicles coming to the market.  Facebook will be Facebook - it will continue to suck the soul out of society and copy features that someone else comes up with.  If there is a killer here, it's Facebook stealing and trying to kill off the competition.  

There are a couple that could be considered killer features but I went ahead and googled the words "killer feature" and I found some.  Some might be close to being killer features but I think the rest are mostly an attempt at click baiting. 

In no particular order,

  • Spotify getting lossless audio.  Meh.  I listen to most of my music on my Apple earbuds, AirPods Pro, and on the phone speaker.  I don't know how others do it but I imagine a vast major of music lovers are more like me than not - higher audio quality will not matter too much.  Have you tried to listen to music through Alexa?  Right.
  • Quick sharing in Windows - In the Apple world, it's called AirDrop.  The new feature will allow Windows and Android to share files and links with each other.  Unfortunately, that's likely limited to Windows 10 and people who use Samsung's Galaxy devices.  No go for others.  I'm surprised Google or even Microsoft, you know, the people who brought us Windows, has not developed an AirDrop like feature yet.
  • Google Pixel phones will offer some biometric features - reading heart rates and breathing.  This is being done not through new hardware but what is already on the devices - the camera.  I've used this before on the iPhone a few years ago.  I don't know how accurate it is but I was amazed at how well it worked as I timed my heart beats the old fashion way. It was close enough.  
  • Google Maps will allow users to pay for parking through the maps app.  I hardly call this a killer anything and more of a convenience feature.  The maps app itself is a killer app, back in 2007.
  • Windows Edge will get vertical tabs.  I think this is close to being a "killer" anything but not a deal break.  Essentially, instead of having the tabs accord horizontally like all browsers now, Edge will display them horizontally on the left.  Maybe you can move them to the right if that is your preference.  As it is now I've got two columns of white spaces on both sides, wasted space.  More information will be displayed as a result.  
  • Android Auto to get shortcuts.  I know what shortcuts are.  Control-C.  Control-V.  But the shortcuts for iOS and Android are more complicated and helpful if you know how to use them.  I barely do as I think most people are.  So, it's good for folks who are well versed with shortcuts and creating them.  Nice to have but not a killer feature.  In general, mobile warriors should use shortcuts more often or start to learn how to use and create them.
  • Samsung Internet to gain new privacy features.  People do not give Samsung enough credit but it is a large developer of apps.  And this shows that Samsung continues to invest a lot of time and effort in making the Android experience better, Samsung style.  Privacy will be front and center for Internet 14.  I am sure Google and Samsung takes privacy seriously and not allow Apple to hog all the attention when it comes to privacy and tracking.  But between Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samung, or another company, I put my trust with my privacy with Apple until someone else proves to me that they will take privacy as seriously as Apple or more. 
Any of those look like killer features to you?

Look, coming up with real killer features or apps is not easy.  I just think the phrase as been over used to the point that any new upgrade is being advertised as a killer feature.  As sad as this is, the ability to maintain a customer's privacy is a killer feature.  The rampant and reckless tracking all over the Internet and apps has created disaster after disaster with user data being misused or leaked.  Apple clamping down on that with the upcoming iOS 14.5 has had seismic effort across social media and the advertising industry with Facebook crying foul.  

Half way through March already, we are getting into the new releases season for many tech companies.  If there are killer features or apps, we should see them soon.  All the low hanging fruits on the killer feature trees have been plucked.  Where are the killer features going to come from?

To my mind, Apple has not released a killer anything since the Apple Watch which itself is doing a number on the traditional watch market.  Speaking of the Apple Watch, health technology may be where we see a lot of killer features in the months and years ahead.  

Privacy and health.  If what I think the trend is going, wellness and peace of mind is going to be important for users and tech companies should do well to consider this when they develop new products.  I would not mind a plethora of killer features, devices, and apps to keep me and my family healthier and feel safer.

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