Every year a huge number of smartphones & laptops released with many changes in the specifications, but very fewer changes in the design. This made everyone think the innovation in technology is dead. From past few years, there weren’t many innovative design changes in the smartphones & laptops, and to name a few, the one-end & double edge display from Samsung and the flexible [curve] display from LG are notably showed innovation in design, but the remaining all are more into specifications.
Well, this year there were many innovative design changes in smartphones & laptops from the major brands like LG, Lenovo, Microsoft, Xiaomi & our favorite brand Apple :p To make this easy, I have listed down the top 5 with innovative design changes irrespective of their specifications and price. Also, the list is more of released gadgets than that are exist in the concept or as a prototype. So, I’m not going to talk about the upcoming technological changes like the onscreen fingerprint scanner smartphone from LG & Samsung, the fully bezel-less smartphone from Lenovo etc. as these are still under development and are yet to be released in the market. So, let’s get started with the list of top 5 innovative design changes in all gadgets released in 2016.
5 Innovative Design Changes in Gadgets – 2016:
Lenovo Yoga Book with Touch Keyboard
There were times we thought the tablets are officially dead as their sales coming down day-by-day. Many major brands have already stopped making tablets and were pouring more concentration on smartphones, laptops & convertibles. But, the Chinese brand Lenovo came up with an interesting concept that changed the way we use the tablets. The company launched a convertible Yoga Book that works in 4 different modes – Create mode, type mode, watch & browse mode as its hinges can be operated in 360°.
But, what’s so special about the tablet/ convertible/ hybrid laptop is the touch keyboard. For more than a year, the company has been working on many prototypes to optimize the keyboard, and now they are successful and launched an innovative touch keyboard called Halo keyboard with the Yoga Book. I consider this as an innovative design change in tablets, as no other tablet now supports an optimized touch keyboard like the Halo keyboard. Let me explain the features, so you will also agree with me –
- The touch keyboard is not always on, and it works on-demand. So, whenever you need it, open the Yoga book in type mode and the Halo keyboard automatically lights up
- The keyboard is optimized in a way that it can auto-complete & auto-correct whatever you type, making you work quickly & accurately
- As the Halo keyboard also supports haptic feedback, with a single pinch on the keyboard you can enjoy different features
- For a graphic designer, the keyboard comes with extra features like, you can draw on the keyboard [keeping the halo keyboard turn-off] which will be shown on the main display. This is like a drawing board and to make the drawing easy, the Yoga Book also comes with a stylus that works like a real pen. So, you can also pinch and zoom on the main screen and correct the art from the keyboard
- For journalists & students, taking notes was never easy but now with the Yoga Book, it becomes very easy. Just place the type pad over the Halo keyboard and write normally with the stylus [real pen with real ink] like you write in a normal book. Whatever you write on the touchpad will be copied to the main screen with your handwriting style
What else you need in a keyboard? Isn’t the Yoga Book innovative?
Xiaomi Mix – Bezel-less smartphone
The next innovative design change in the gadgets can be seen on Xiaomi’s latest concept smartphone – Mi Mix which is a near bezel-less smartphone. There were many other concept smartphones like the one from Sharp but they are left as concepts, but the Xiaomi actually launched the smartphone and it is on sale in China.
So, what’s so special about this bezel-less smartphone? Most of the smartphones we see follow a similar form factor and have a max of 75% screen to body ratio, but the one you are seeing above actually has a 91.3 % screen-to-body ratio. Isn’t it amazing? No one had ever thought Xiaomi will come with such a new concept in smartphones as the brand is known for mimicking the design of major brands like Apple & Samsung.
On Mi Mix, the innovative design change is not just the full-screen display, it’s more than that! In general, every smartphone user would have known that the top bezel [near] of every smartphone have the proximity sensor, speaker etc. But, on Xiaomi Mix they are actually invisible, so how did they make it work?
This is possible by the new technology called the ‘Inner beauty’ developed by Elliptical labs. Here, they replaced the proximity sensor with the ultrasound software. This design also helped to make the device speaker go completely invisible so, how these things work?
The actual use of any proximity sensor is to turn off the screen during calls or when not in use, and on Xiaomi Mix this is possible based on algorithms which detect when the phone’s near to your ear etc. So, the proximity sensor-free actually enables the phone work even on bad weather conditions too.
Just like the ultrasonic proximity, for the speakers a piezoelectric ceramic is used which vibrate based on the received analog signal [converted from digital] which in turn vibrates the metal frame, thus making a user hear the voice clearly.
Though Microsoft failed in making brilliant windows phones, but never failed in the convertibles. The new design of surface studio blew people’s mind. If you still think Apple is the only brand that shows innovation & precision in their products, then you should change your thinking. Microsoft’s Surface Studio & the Surface dialer are one of a kind and this made Microsoft enter the PC segment giving a stiff competition to iMac. Now, let’s check out the features of Surface Studio & dialer.
- Talking about the surface studio, it has a 28′ PixelSense display and has way higher resolution than 4K
- The zero-gravity hinges are simple yet brilliant. it helps the surface display move weightlessly and from ground, it makes an elevation of 20º. This is to give support for graphic designers to work easily
- Using the surface pen you can draw anything like you used to on a normal paper, and the display can sense your elbow or any accidental press on the screen making the art free from errors
- The new surface dial has a minimalistic design but has many innovative features., just keep the dial over the screen and it popups several functions. All these functions help to perfect the art you’re drawing!
This article would be incomplete if I don’t talk about the new Apple MacBook Pro. Leaving the critics aside, as I am talking about the innovative design changes, so I would be talking more about the changes & the technology behind it, than the pricing. The new MacBook Pro was unveiled recently and the leaks are completely true as the new MacBook Pro doesn’t have any function keys and it is replaced completely with a Touch Bar. Along with Touch Bar, this is the first MacBook to incorporate the Touch ID. So, let’s take a look at the features –
- The company claimed it’s the best MacBook Pro they ever designed as it is lighter, thinner and the display is more vivid than the previous ones. But, what’s really interesting is the Touch Bar
- For the first time in the laptops segment, we are seeing a touch bar along with the keys. Though this design change replaced the function keys, but gave a chance for unlimited shortcuts
- The Touch Bar shows relevant functions based on what you are doing!
- If you are emailing someone, the touch bar will show the text suggestions, emojis etc. making it easy to frame the e-mail perfectly
- Not just mailing, the Touch Bar shows shortcuts on many apps like –
- on Photos – You can change the picture by dragging the touch bar. Also, it will show several shortcuts like adding filters, rotating the image etc.
- On Final Cut Pro – You can adjust the timeline of the video, making it easy to edit the video perfectly.
- On Safari – Gives you an easy way to browse through tabs, favorites etc.
- On KeyNote – Easily adjust the color of the text and helps you move from one slide to another
- Not just these, you can even customize the touch bar on some apps, attend FaceTime calls, or you can get the old function keys set by press & holding the FN key
LG G5 & Moto Z – Modular Smartphone
It’s supposed to be Google who should have launched the modular smartphone, but for unknown reasons Project Ara has been canceled. After that, LG released G5 which is a fully modular smartphone and gave a hope to the modular segment.
The modular concept is unique and it is not like conventional smartphones with fixed specifications. With this concept, you can attach or detach phone’s main accessories like the camera, battery, speakers etc. Based on the modular concept, Lenovo-owned Motorola launched Moto Z – it’s very first fully functional modular smartphone.
What’s so special about Moto Z comparing to LG G5 is you can add everything on the rear side of the phone, just like you add the back cover. It’s just like swiping the back cover whenever you need it. But on G5, you need to change the bottom side of the phone every time when you add the extra accessory. So comparing to G5, the magnetic dock system on the rear side of Moto Z has extra benefits, and is reliable.
Leaving the comparison apart, these two modular smartphones showed the innovative design changes in the smartphone segment and proved that innovation is not dead and in the coming days you will see more smartphones with the same modular concept.
These are the innovative design changes in gadgets I saw in 2016, let me know if you find any other design change that is not covered in the list so I can just add it up here. :)