As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace, it’s not surprising that new terms are introduced, or old terms take on new meanings.
If you’re not a tech-geek, the new terminology can be intimidating and confusing. And since many of these terms impact your buying decision, as demonstrated in recent Apple’s product announcement, understanding tech terms has never been more important.
I know first hand that when you take the time to dig into a tech term, you typically find lots of information, much of it irrelevant or confusing.
Since I spend much of my time answering questions about tech terms, I thought I’d break down 5 of the tech terms work explaining in 2017:
1 - Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
- If you’re like me, you may have had your first exposure to a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when connecting to your employer's network outside of the office.
- VPN’s have become more popular for personal use, especially on smartphones, since they provide greater security when using public Wi-Fi.
- Apple has supported VPN’s for quite a while, but in iOS 10, the setting was made more prominent, causing many people to wonder if they should be using a VPN.
- If you need Wi-Fi access outside of your home or work network, a VPN is a great option since it provides and extra layer of protection when accessing public Wi-Fi.
- However, VPN access is not free. You’ll have to secure a paid monthly service, and for most people, the task requiring a VPN access can wait until you get to your home Wi-Fi network.
2 - LTE capable
- LTE is an acronym for Long Term Evolution and is the standard for wireless communication of high-speed data. In plain english, it’s the term used to describe your cellular connection.
- When you purchase a smartphone, there is hardware built-in that supports LTE capabilities. Some older smartphones can’t take advantage of newer, faster speeds. The latest version of the Apple Watch is now LTE capable, which means it can make voice calls and use cellular data without an iPhone.
- Your cellular provider, like Verizon, Sprint, or AT&T, also talk a lot about the LTE capabilities of their networks, which are constantly evolving to help support the increasing demand of mobile devices.
- The ‘G' in 4G means generation, and the number increments with each new version. In 2017, the most widely available speed is 4G, which is better and faster than it’s predecessor, 3G. Cellular companies are working on 5G, which is expected in 2018.
- It’s important to note that even if your smartphone is capable of 4G-LTE, if it’s not available in the area, your connection automatically shifts to 3G.
3 - Intelligent Personal Assistant
- 'Intelligent personal assistant' is the official term used to describe Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon’s Alexa.
- Wikipedia also refers to this type of technology as a virtual assistant, which is software that can perform tasks or services for an individual.
- Since virtual assistants are now built into smartphones, they have become more widely used and increasing competitive. As of May 2017, Siri has the largest market share at 34%, followed by Google Assistant (19%), and Amazon Alexa (6%).
- There are a few more terms associated with virtual assistants, like natural language processing (NLP) which recognizes your voice and executes commands. Artificial intelligence (AI) is used to continually learn, and is supported by machine learning.
- This type of technology may see like something out of the Jetson’s, but it’s here to stay, and extremely useful in your day-to-day life when you learn how to leverage it.
4 - Augmented Reality
- In September of 2017, Apple announced ARKit, which allows app developers to take advantage of augmented reality (AR) technology built into newer iPhone’s.
- That means we’ll likely be seeing more uses for augmented reality, which blends virtual objects with the real world, compared to virtual reality, which replaces the real world with computer simulations.
- If you’re a football fan, you’ve likely seen AR in action for years, in the yellow lines that indicate line of scrimmage and other markers superimposed on the field during live play.
- The new AR apps for the iPhone will use the camera, superimposing objects, allowing you to change angles and get another view. You’ll also likely be able to use gestures on your iPhone to interact with objects presented in augmented reality.
- Stay tuned for the exciting new Augmented Reality apps that will likely be introduced in 2018.
5 - Qi Standard
- When Apple announced the new iPhones in September of 2017, one of the exciting new features included was wireless charging capabilities.
- With a new glass back, the latest iPhones were now capable of rapidly charging by laying on a charging mat, which uses the Qi standard.
- Qi, pronounced like the ‘chee’ in ‘cheese', is a Chinese word for energy flow. It is the universal standard for wireless charging and has been used since 2008 to charge all kinds of electronics. The Qi standard is included in wireless charging stations in public places, like airports and hotels.
- The new iPhone’s don’t come with a charging mat, but do come with an old-fashioned cord for charging. To wirelessly charge, you can purchase a Mophie wireless charging base ($60), which Apple recommends, or stay tuned for the new Apple AirPower, schedule for release in 2018.
If you want to dig deeper into any of these terms, simply do a google search. I found lots of information to support any level of curiosity.
Do you have a tech term you'd like explained? Leave a comment below.
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