It’s that time of year again when we whip our crystal ball out of the drawer and take a look at what software is in store for the coming year. We were proved right with all our software predictions for 2009, so I’m trusting the ball to work its magic once again. Here we go with a guide to what to expect from the coming year:
1. Chromium OS
This was an easy one, because Google has already released the source code for its shiny new operating system. The OS is being touted as the perfect solution for netbooks, because it’s entirely based around the web and thus doesn’t require cavernous hard disk space. We were initially underwhelmed by Chromium when we gave it a run-out a couple of months back, but the OS is sure to look a lot different come the end of the year, and Google’s reputation alone should be enough to convince hoards of people to make the switch to browser-based computing.
2. Internet Explorer 9
For the last few years poor old IE has been kicked, battered and stamped on by web users like a cute puppy who got old. Microsoft began work on Internet Explorer 9 a few weeks ago and unveiled some details of the browser at its Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles in November. When finally released, hopefully towards the end of the year, IE9 will be equipped with new hardware-accelerated text and graphics to make web sites look better. The new version’s Direct2D browsing technology is designed to significantly speed up web applications, which is necessary if Microsoft continues to push the wonders of cloud computing. Internet Explorer 9 could see Firefox turncoats flocking back to their roots. Alternatively, and more likely, no one will notice much difference in the browser and its release will pass with no great fanfare.
3. Adobe Creative Suite 5
Rumor has it that the new versions of Photoshop, Flash et. al should be with us around April. It’ll be a new era for the design suite because the Mac version has been completely rebuilt in Cocoa, and will no longer run on PowerPC chips. Judging by the sneaky peeks we’ve seen here and from what was announced at Adobe MAX 2009, designers will be whimpering with delight when CS5 finally becomes available. New goodies you can expect from the suite include ‘wet look’ 3D Photoshop paint brushes, native iPhone game compiling in Flash, and a ‘Smart Paste’ tool for Dreamweaver that makes it easier to integrate vector graphics and Illustrator-created content into your web sites.
4. New Apple OS
I’m already bored of the new Apple Tablet and it hasn’t even been launched (or even confirmed!) yet. Rumors are rife already about what OS/UI this ‘alleged’ device will run. Some say it will run the full OS X, others are adamant that it will us the iPhone OS. My money is on a new variant of OS X that lies somewhere between the two, which will include loads of smart gestures and will be shackled tightly to iTunes.
5. Firefox 4/Firefox Mobile
Two massive releases from Mozilla that are penned for release this year. Firefox 4 for Windows and Mac should arrive around October, and early tidbits of information and flashes of screenshots suggest it’ll be worth the wait. According to Stephen Horlander, product visual designer at Mozilla, the new interface will be radically stripped down to bring it in line with its leaner rivals, Chrome and Safari. Take a look at the screenshots on Stephen’s site if you want an idea of how it will look. Finally, this year will also see the arrival of Firefox Mobile. It’s already available for the Nokia N900 but expect releases for Android, Symbian, and Windows Mobile, too.
6. Windows Azure
The new Azure platform is Microsoft’s attempt to drive people up into the cloud. The environment is designed to help businesses develop their own cloud applications and services, implementing them alongside their existing services. I’ll be honest here and say I really don’t understand what Azure actually does and I was none the wiser after watching Microsoft’s incredibly vague overview video outlining the benefits of the platform on the Azure home page.
7. Google Goggles
Expect Google to ramp up its production of mobile software this year. Besides knocking out new updates of its Android platform and making stacks of money from its Nexus One phone, Google will continue to experiment with new interfaces for mobile devices. It’s highly effective Voice Search tool has been followed up by the development of an augmented reality app called Google Goggles. Essentionally, it allows you to point your phone at something and Google will tell you what it is, which is pretty cool. Thankfully, Google has said Goggles will block searching on people’s faces, which is a relieve for anyone who values their privacy.
8. Location-based services
A more general prediction is that 2010 will be the year when location-based services finally come into their own. Uptake of location-aware smartphone devices will increase exponentially and thus more of us will be trackable via satellite. This means we expect to see shops flashing ads to your mobile as you walk past them, automatic check-ins as you walk into an airport, and everyone on Facebook knowing exactly where you are at any given time.